'Clemson days' Sammy Watkins makes Chiefs even more dangerous

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As recently as Friday, Sammy Watkins predicted he would have the best season of his NFL career.

But even he couldn't have predicted what happened Sunday. Watkins caught nine passes for career highs of 198 yards and three touchdowns in the Kansas City Chiefs' 40-26 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Not this type of game," Watkins said afterward. "But I think the work I put in in the offseason and the trust I have in the coaches and the staff and the training and what I did in the offseason would lead up to playing good and being successful.

"I'm not a statistics guy. I love scoring three touchdowns and whatever many yards, but the objective is to get the win."

The Chiefs will need more production from Watkins after losing their No. 1 wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, to a collarbone and sternum injury that will cause him to "miss a few weeks," a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday. They will learn as soon as next week's game against the Raiders whether Watkins' Jacksonville game was the outlier or if he is fulfilling the immense promise he showed as the fourth overall draft pick from Clemson in 2014.

The Chiefs weren't surprised by his big game on Sunday.

"We've seen it all offseason," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "The way he's prepared his body, the way he's practiced, he really understands the offense on a different level than he did last year. Whenever he got his number called, he made plays."

There are signs that Watkins will continue to play well. His determination to be a bigger part of the Chiefs' prolific passing game is obvious. He was so focused on Sunday that he didn't realize Mahomes almost left the game because of a sprained ankle, learning of the injury only later when he noticed the big pad of tape on Mahomes' left ankle.

Watkins played with an abandon he rarely showed last season, when he hit triple-digit receiving yards only three times, including a season-best 114 against the Patriots in the playoffs.

He said he had never scored a touchdown like his first one Sunday. He took a short pass, made a defender miss and then outran others to the end zone for a 68-yard score.

"He made a quick move and showed off his speed," Mahomes said. "We said he was back to his Clemson days."

Watkins had 134 of his 198 yards after the catch. Such a high percentage is an indication he's on top of his game, because one of his strengths is his ability to run after getting the ball.

"From the first one on, you saw him break tackles and split seams," coach Andy Reid said. "There was no indecision after catches."

Mostly, Watkins is healthy. He played in all 16 games as a rookie for the Bills in 2014, but not since then. Even when he's been in the lineup, he's often been limited by one ailment or another.

This year, he's been available and strong at every practice except one at training camp when he was sick.

"That's probably the biggest area, right there," Reid said. "The demands of training camp when he first came to us I think was a bit of shocker. He's worked so hard that you pull for him because the things he's had are things that are freak things. You knew coming out of college. ... You're talking about one of the best receivers I've ever seen coming out of college. I mean, he was phenomenal. This is what you saw, what you saw today."