FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie running back Kareem Hunt will have many fond memories of his NFL debut after collecting 246 yards from scrimmage and scoring three touchdowns Thursday night as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the New England Patriots, 42-27.
Hunt’s most impressive feat might have been overcoming his miserable start. Hunt lost a fumble on his first carry, a play that might have ruined another rookie.
"To start on your first carry like that and have it go like that, it would be hard to overcome for a lot of guys," quarterback Alex Smith said.
The fumble energized Hunt. He responded by rushing for 148 yards and one touchdown and by catching passes worth 98 yards and two touchdowns.
"There was a lot of learning," the third-round pick said. "There were some ups and downs, especially at the beginning of the game. I just had to keep playing through it, not get down on myself."
Hunt set a record for yards from scrimmage for a player making his NFL debut. He is the third player since 1970 with at least 150 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns in his first pro action, joining Marshall Faulk and Billy Sims.
More important, the Chiefs look to have another offensive threat. Hunt averaged 8.7 yards on his 17 carries and was just as impressive as a receiver. He got open deep down the middle to catch a 78-yard touchdown pass from Smith early in the fourth quarter to give the Chiefs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
"Once Alex threw a great ball over the middle I knew I had to go get it," Hunt said. "Once I caught it, there was no looking back. I knew I had to score. I knew we were down and we needed seven [points] quick."
Hunt did most of his best work in the fourth quarter. The 5-foot-11, 216-pound back accounted for 158 yards (76 rushing, 82 receiving) in the final period.
"It seemed like to me [in college at Toledo] that he would be stronger in the fourth quarter than he was early," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "That was one thing that jumped out to us as we looked at that.
"He’s a load and he’s talented. He’s a smart kid, which helps at that position because that’s a tough one. You’ve got a lot of things you’ve got to learn as a rookie coming in. I haven’t had a lot of rookies start for me over the years."