For the Kansas City Chiefs, Kareem Hunt's NFL debut did not begin with the smoothest transition. On his first career carry, the former Toledo Rockets running back fumbled the ball. The opposing New England Patriots recovered but did not capitalize on the favorable field position as a result of the turnover.
But Hunt earned a second chance, and has now ingrained himself in NFL history because of it. The Toledo graduate now owns the most yards from scrimmage — 246 — for a debut in NFL history.
The Chiefs' running back never lost a fumble as a Toledo Rocket in 856 touches. He fumbled once during his freshman year but recovered it himself. Just like that play, Hunt immediately recovered on Thursday night en route to a monumental debut performance.
"I just had to forget about it," Hunt told NBC's Michelle Tafoya in the network's postgame interview. "I didn't have a perfect game like I wanted to and I've got a lot to learn from."
The running back compiled 148 yards on just 17 carries, punching it in for one rushing touchdown. He added an impressive six catches for 98 yards, collecting two receiving touchdowns from quarterback Alex Smith.
Hunt's first touchdown occurred in the late second quarter. With 13 seconds remaining in the first half, Kansas City sliced into New England's 10-point lead by dumping the ball off to Hunt, who dove into the left portion of the end zone.
Hunt's most crucial play of the game occurred at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Down 27-21, Smith launched the ball to Hunt on a streak route down field. The rookie caught the bomb over his shoulder and defeated Patriots' defenders Cassius Marsh and Malcolm Butler in a foot-race to the end zone. The Chiefs gained a lead they would never relinquish.
Hunt only added to the victory later on. He scored his lone rushing touchdown of the night, diving into the end zone from four yards out to extend the lead to 35-27.
On the ensuing possession, Hunt bolted down the left sideline for a 58-yard gain to set up the Chiefs for yet another score. Then, he achieved the final first down of the game to clinch a 1-0 record for Kansas City.
Here is Hunt giving a shout out to his alma mater, Toledo, postgame:
Hunt is now enshrined in NFL history with 256 yards from scrimmage in his first career game. He bounced-back in the most poised and impressive manner possible. As a rookie selected in the third round and playing for the injured Spencer Ware, Hunt was thrown into a difficult position, but he is already flourishing in his starting role. He is now just one of three players in NFL history (Marshall Faulk and Billy Sims) with 150 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in a debut since 1970, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Hunt, Toledo's all-time leading rusher, totaled more receiving yards Thursday night than he did in each of his first three collegiate seasons. He also earned more receiving touchdowns than he scored in his entire collegiate career. The Chiefs are utilizing him as a versatile running/receiving back, and it will be interesting to watch Hunt take the field for his second time against the Eagles on September 17 to follow up his historic debut.