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Isiah Pacheco pops off in NFL playoff debut



Isiah Pacheco
Photo Credit Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs leading 10-7 and with the ball late in the second quarter of Saturday’s divisional round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on the sidelines injured. Starting at their own 2 yard line with backup Chad Henne leading the huddle, Andy Reid’s offense needed a spark. And as they have done more and more as the season wore on, the Chiefs called Isiah Pacheco’s No. 10 in a key spot in the game.

The former Rutgers star delivered in a big way. He produced 57 rushing yards on 4 carries on a drive that ended with a touchdown. The key play of the 98 yard drive was Pacheco running 39 yards on a 2nd and 10 down to the Jaguars 4 yard line. According to Next Gen Stats, Pacheco ran the fastest speed of his career at 20.97 miles per hour on the play. The fact that Pacheco made the play something out of nothing was the best part.

Also according to Next Gen Stats, Isiah Pacheco “set career-highs in rushing yards over expected (+42) and percent of runs than gained more yards than expected (75.0%) in the Chiefs’ Divisional Round victory.”

Mahomes ultimately returned and finished with 195 yards passing and two touchdowns. However, Pacheco was a steady force in the run game that kept the Chiefs afloat when they needed a spark. He  finished with 95 yards on 12 carries for 7.9 yards per rush. He added one catch on one target for 6 yards to total 101 all-purpose yards in his NFL playoff debut. The Chiefs defeated the Jaguars 27-17 to advance to next weekend’s AFC Championship Game.

In his rookie season, Pacheco ran for 830 yards on 170 carries and 5 touchdowns. That’s an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He added 13 catches for 130 receiving yards, averaging 10.0 yards per reception. In addition, he had 29 kickoff returns for a total of 597 yards and 20.6 yards per return average. Pacheco finished the regular season with 1,557 all-purpose yards in 17 games. After being selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, Pacheco proved the Chiefs right and all the teams that passed on him wrong.

It’s great to see the former Rutgers running back having so much success in his rookie season. He was always a hard nosed runner for the Scarlet Knights. That was despite having little help on the offensive side of the ball throughout his college career. Even so, Pacheco never stopped playing as hard as he could. He also played out his career at Rutgers despite the losing and instead of transferring somewhere else. After overcoming the personal tragedies of having two siblings murdered, there is no one tougher or more deserving of success than Pacheco. RU fans should be screaming “Go Pop Go” as long as the Chiefs continue to play.


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  1. thevinman

    January 22, 2023 at 4:41 pm

    Pacheco is certainly making a big splash in his rookie year. As a Rutgers fan it is so gratifying to see.

  2. BataliBoli98

    January 22, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    By all accounts a great kid who represented the university with class and grit. I wonder what percentage of rookie running backs averaged more per carry as a first year pro vs. their last year in college. For example, as great a rookie season as Kenneth Walker had in averaging 4.6 per carry, he averaged 6.2 in his last year at MSU. As Aaron noted, it shines a spotlight on how weak the OL play has been in recent memory.
    Congrats to Isiah!

  3. thevinman

    January 23, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    With Mahomes hurt and less than 100% the Chiefs are going to need to lean more on Pacheco and the Bengals will be keying on him.

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