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Kareem Hunt shines in Kansas City Chiefs' blowout victory

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kareem Hunt waited his turn and never complained. He could've whined, fussed, stewed or sulked. Instead, he wisely realized where the Kansas City offense was heading, that something special was blossoming with each passing week. His own opportunities would come eventually and the Chiefs running back would do his part when the time was right.

It was obvious a long time ago that Kansas City possesses the most explosive offense in the NFL this season, a unit that just ripped off a 45-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. What wasn't so apparent was how the Chiefs would keep all their star players happy with so much firepower to unleash. Hunt was the first to learn what it's like to live with limited touches, as he generated only 173 total yards in Kansas City's first three games. He's erupted for 595 total yards in the four games since, including 141 in the victory over the Bengals.

It's easy to say Hunt is thriving simply because defenses have become obsessed with containing star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In fact, he's also succeeding because he's done a great job of being a true team player.

"People are watching film on Pat now, so I'm going to make it easy for him," said Hunt, who had 86 rushing yards on 15 attempts, five receptions for 55 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati. "I told him that you do all the cute stuff. I'll handle all the dirty work."

To understand the real beauty of Hunt's recent success, you first have to remember what he did last season. He ran for an NFL-best 1,327 yards, caught 53 passes for another 455 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Most people had no idea who Hunt was when the Chiefs selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He wound up playing in the Pro Bowl, becoming a fantasy football darling and ultimately signing an endorsement deal with Under Armour this past offseason.

Normally, a player like Hunt would come into his second season looking for an even bigger impact. He wound up seeking the best way to fit in. It was a necessary approach on a team that was starting a second-year quarterback, one who would be surrounded by an array of weapons that included the league's best tight end (Travis Kelce), its most dynamic receiver (Tyreek Hill) and another speedy wideout who arrived via free agency (Sammy Watkins). Instead of building on his newfound fame, Hunt had to learn a few more things about sharing the wealth.

Yes, the Chiefs' offense is extraordinary because Mahomes is practically superhuman. A more underrated aspect of what makes this team special is the unselfishness that is best exemplified by Hunt.

"We play ball around here," Chiefs guard Cam Erving said. "Guys don't count touches. When a team schemes for one thing, we have another thing to come back to. Kareem has done a great job of just being patient and waiting for his moments to come. He grabs those moments when they do come and he finishes."

"He takes this offense to the next level," Mahomes added. "Him being able to run hard and being able to catch the ball out of the backfield when he's not being accounted for, I can just throw a checkdown to him and he can break three tackles and get into the end zone. He's a special player who I believe doesn't get as much hype as he should. But as he keeps rolling, I believe the hype will come."

Hunt actually set the tone against the Bengals from the start. He scored Kansas City's first two touchdowns, one on a six-yard reception from Mahomes and the other on a 15-yard catch from the quarterback. Hunt also had one of the game's most spectacular highlights in the first half, when he dashed right, barreled through a couple tackles, hurdled another defender and finished with a 21-yard gain. That effort spoke to everything that made Hunt an instant success in the league: the toughness, the determination, the ability to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way.

As high-flying as the Chiefs can be on any given afternoon, the grittiness Hunt brings to this offense is a necessary component for whatever they hope to accomplish this season. Hunt is going to receive more touches in the coming weeks because defenses literally have no way of stopping Kansas City's passing attack. Mahomes has too much playmaking ability and too much speed all around him. No team in the league can score as quickly as this bunch when their quarterback starts launching passes downfield on a regular basis.

Hunt takes no offense to the idea that if opponents have to pick their poison against the Chiefs, he's the likeliest option they'll choose. If anything, it gives him another opportunity to prove why he's meant so much to Kansas City in the first place. The Denver Broncos realized that when Hunt gained 121 yards on 19 carries and added another 54 receiving yards in a 27-23 K.C. win. He beat up the Jaguars a week after that victory (with 22 carries for 87 yards) and was deadly in a 43-40 loss to New England (80 rushing yards to go with 105 receiving yards on five receptions).

When asked if the last few games have raised his confidence, Hunt acknowledged that he never had a problem with self-assurance.

"It's not even about me, it's about the team winning," Hunt said. "Whatever I can do to help the team win, I'm a team guy. I'm down to do whatever."

The Chiefs surely will appreciate that attitude in the coming weeks. At 6-1, they've already moved through the toughest part of their schedule, a stretch that included road wins over the Chargers, Steelers and Broncos and that close defeat in New England. They'll now have the opportunity to play three straight games against teams with losing records, two of which (Denver and Arizona) will come at Arrowhead Stadium. Given how easily the Chiefs can score, they'll likely flirt with the 50-point mark at least a couple more times.

That potential for explosiveness in the coming weeks might make it easy for people to forget how hard it is to keep everyone happy in an offense as multifaceted as this one. As Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has said all year, everyone needs to be ready when their number is called in this system. Luckily for the Chiefs, Hunt already has shown that he doesn't really care when his touches arrive. The only thing that truly matters, as far as he's concerned, is what he's ultimately going to do with them.

Follow Jeffri Chadiha on Twitter @jeffrichadiha.

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