Tyreek Hill is headed back to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since the 2021 AFC Championship Game
It was because he was the Miami Dolphins’ biggest difference-maker on offense that Tyreek Hill was voted team MVP by those who cover the team, and there was a time his impact might have been enough to get him NFL MVP consideration.
That’s the Tyreek Hill the Dolphins need to have Saturday night when he returns to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since the 2001 AFC Championship Game, not the Tyreek Hill of the end of the season.
It’s not going to be easy for Hill to be that impact player, not only because of the well-publicized nasty weather forecast but also because Hill again is likely to play at least than 100 percent.
And that’s not even mentioning the distraction of having to temporarily move his family while is South Florida home gets some repairs after being damaged by a fire last week.
HILL GOING BACK TO BASICS
That Hill was able to miss only one game after the ankle injury he sustained in the Monday night loss against the Tennessee Titans in Week 14 is almost a feat in itself given the injury sure looked like a high ankle sprain, which normally requires a longer recovery period.
Since he’s been back, we’ve seen Hill periodically grimace or get up limping after catches, a clear sign he’s playing with pain. And, to make matters worse, the injury report this week showed him with a new injury, one to his quad.
Without question, the injury has contributed to his lower numbers down the stretch — after recording eight 100-yard receiving performances in his first eight games, he failed to reach triple digits in the last four (he did have 99 yards against Dallas).
More troublesome have been some drops, which is what led to Hill spending extra time with the JUGS machine after practice.
“I mean, I’ve been busting my tail, man,” Hill said. “Dealing with a lot of stuff as far as injuries and stuff like that. Just trying to get back to the basics. I try to catch JUGS like each and every day after practice. Even though I don’t got to, I try to get back to the things that got me to this point, which is attention to detail, the fundamentals and the techniques that the coaches taught me or even my dad taught me going back to the roots.
“When you’ve done so much, you’ve got to find new ways, create new ways to entertain yourself because the season is long, the season gets boring. I’ve said this before, you’ve got to find a way to fall in love with the boring things and I feel like I’d kind of gotten away from that and now I’m back to it, refocusing just on catching the ball and stuff like that and I feel like I’ll be all right.”
“JUST ANOTHER GAME” FOR TYREEK HILL
So Hill ended up with eight 100-yard games and eight below 100 yards and there’s an absolute correlation between his success and that of the team.
When Hill goes over 100 yards, the Dolphins are 8-0; when he doesn’t, the Dolphins are 2-6.
So maybe it’s as simple as Hill needing to have a big outing for him to enjoy a better outcome than his last game at Arrowhead Stadium because that was a 27-24 overtime loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In that game, Hill had seven catches for 78 yards, but all of the production came in the first half. His last catch came on the first play of the first half when the Chiefs looked to extend their 21-10 lead with time running out and opted to go for the touchdown from the 1-yard line instead of taking the chip-shot field goal. Hill caught a swing pass from Patrick Mahomes but was tackled for no gain by cornerback Eli Apple, who became his teammate this year in Miami.
Hill was looking forward to a return to Kansas City before the 2023 regular season schedule was released in the spring and he found out the Dolphins-Chiefs was going to take place in Germany.
Now, he gets that opportunity, although he obviously wishes it wouldn’t be happening in freezing weather.
“Well, it’s a mind-set,” Hill said. “I feel like if you believe it’s going to be cold, then you’re going to freeze your balls off. But if you go into this game not even thinking any of that, you’ll be fine. With me being me, I played there and I understand the conditions. I’m not even worried about it at all. I’m going to go out there with no sleeves and tell the rest of the guys it’s a mindset. If those guys see you wearing sleeves, obviously they’re going to think you’re soft. We’re going to go out there and do our thing.”
Of course, Hill and his teammates could have been playing at home this weekend, but they came up short against Buffalo last Sunday night and ended up with the No. 6 seed, which put them on the road.
At least, this gave Hill the chance for his K.C. homecoming, even though he kinda, sorta tried to downplay it.
“Just another game, man,” Hill said. “I’m looking forward to it. Obviously I’m very excited for it. I’m not looking forward to the cold, but to see old faces again and play inside of Arrowhead is going to be a special moment for myself. It’s going to be awesome.”