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With Tyreek Hill's injury, Mecole Hardman delivers for Kansas City Chiefs

DENVER -- It wasn't until kickoff that the Kansas City Chiefs informed Mecole Hardman that fellow wide receiver Tyreek Hill landed the wrong way on his heel during pregame warmups and suffered an injury that would keep him out for much of Saturday's game against the Denver Broncos.

Hardman, the Chiefs' speedy alternative to Hill, said he locked in and readied himself for a big game at that point.

"Definitely I flipped a switch," Hardman said. "I'm ready for those kind of situations when they present themselves.

"You definitely have to have an extra boost knowing that you're going to be targeted a little bit more and the team is going to need you a little bit more."

Hardman delivered for the Chiefs in their time of need. He had the first 100-yard game of his career, catching eight passes for 103 yards, in helping the Chiefs finish their regular season with a 28-24 win.

"Finally," said Hardman, in his third NFL season. "I finally got 100. It's been a long time since I've seen 100 yards. I think it's back to South Carolina vs. Georgia [in college] since I've seen 100 yards.

"It's a great achievement. It's something to definitely be proud of, especially since we got the win. Hopefully I can get some more of those."

Hardman had been close to 100 yards earlier in his career, getting 97 as a rookie in 2019 against the Baltimore Ravens and 96 last year against the New York Jets.

But his season high had been 76 yards, and there was little thought he would have a big game against the Broncos until Hill's injury, which limited him to 16% of the Chiefs' snaps.

"We were able to get the ball in [Hardman's] hands quick and you saw him just explode. He was playing fast, very fast," coach Andy Reid said.

Hardman delivered the Chiefs' two longest pass plays of the game, 44 and 21 yards.

"He's made plays happen all season long," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "He might not have the big numbers as far as stats on the whole entire season but in big moments he makes a lot of big plays. He has all the talent in the world and we'll need that going forward into the playoffs.

"No one [else] is Tyreek. He's a special player [the likes of which] has never been seen in this league. But Mecole is pretty close. He has a lot of speed, he has a lot of shiftiness. ... I'm sure he wants to get more stats and all that different type of stuff but he's prepared for this moment."