It did not take long for Kareem Hunt to make an impact in his first professional game. Going against the defending world champion New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs’ third round rookie delivered what is still the most prolific game of his career – and one of the NFL’s best of 2017: playing on a national stage, in Foxboro, with the Patriots raising their fifth Super Bowl banner, Hunt exploded for a combined 246 yards from scrimmage.
Along the way, he scored three touchdowns and instantly became a star even outside of the scope of fantasy football. Fast forward one year: with New England again set to host Kansas City, it would not have been a surprise to see Hunt on the front pages or listed as the player to watch in the upcoming contest. However, that has not been the case so far. Instead, most of the focus has been on other member of the Chiefs’ prolific offense.
Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, rightfully so, is the player who gets the lion’s share of the spotlight. Two of his most trusted weapons – tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill – are also frequently mentioned when it comes to pre-game analysis and breaking down the number one scoring offense in the NFL. Hunt, it seems, flies under the radar despite being as important as any of the unit’s other starters.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty knows that the he and his teammates can’t sleep on Hunt. “We were one of the first people to see that last year,” the defensive captain answered when asked about the running back potentially getting lost amidst the other potent weapons on the Chiefs offense. “He fumbled the first play and then went on to have a great game against us last year, so we’re fully aware of what he brings,” continued McCourty.
This season, Hunt brings his usual mix of versatility from the backfield. The 23-year old carried the football 93 times for 376 yards and four touchdowns, all while also catching five passes for 66 yards and a score. While his 442 yards from scrimmage rank him second on the Chiefs behind only Tyreek Hill, his five total touchdowns are best on the team – ahead of big-name compañeros like Hill or Travis Kelce.
Yet, Hunt appears to be the forgotten member of the league’s hottest offense – but he is not lost on a Patriots defense that was torched by him on opening day last year. “I think just their whole rushing attack no one talks about because Mahomes leads the league in passing touchdowns, they have so many good receivers and then tight ends,” McCourty said when talking about the prolific running back.
“But, we’re fully aware of Hunt,” continued the veteran defender. “Whether it’s running the ball or catching the ball out of the backfield, or how he can hurt you and how hard he runs, not looking to go out of bounds; very aggressive runner.” McCourty’s head coach was also asked about Hunt but his answer did not simply focus on the talented Pro Bowler. Instead Bill Belichick perfectly summed up the Chiefs offense as a whole.
“They’re all dangerous,” Belichick said. “You can’t stop one guy in this offense. They’ve got too many guys. The quarterback is a problem. The backs are a problem. The tight ends are a problem. The receivers are a problem. They’re all a problem.” And despite being a bit of a forgotten man in all of this, Kareem Hunt is a big reason why Kansas City’s offense presents the problems it presents.