Tyreek Hill's 'Cheetah speed' and athleticism turn heads

CARSON, Calif. -- Tyreek Hill calls it "Cheetah speed," his name for the gear he slips into in the open field.

Hill got into Cheetah speed several times on Sunday in the Kansas City Chiefs' 38-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. It started with his 91-yard punt return for a touchdown two minutes into the game and continued with his seven receptions for 169 yards and two additional touchdowns.

Cheetah is Hill's nickname for himself, and it's not just self-promotion. He may well be the NFL's fastest player.

His speed was the single biggest factor in determining the outcome against the Chargers. Even the Chargers were in awe of how fast Hill moves.

"That guy, Tyreek Hill, is unbelievable to watch," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "What a dynamic player. ... I don't know if I've seen anybody better, the things he can do speedwise, in all my time playing."

Hill's punt-return touchdown was well blocked. Hill said he knew as soon as he caught the ball he would score, even though he was 91 yards from the end zone.

But Hill still might have been caught if he wasn't so fast. Like most opponents, the Chargers found it futile to chase Hill.

Since Hill became a regular receiver, the Chiefs have often pondered whether to remove him from return duty. But special-teams coordinator Dave Toub feels Hill is not only the Chiefs' best candidate for the job, but the best in the league.

His speed is the biggest reason. Hill also likes to return punts because it helps him get into the game as a receiver.

"It gets me hyped," Hill said. "It gets the offense rolling. It's fun being back there and being able to make a play for the team.

"Coach Toub even said it was going to be a touchdown. During the whole week he was like, 'Guys, we've got a chance, we've got a chance. We just have to block it up.' It turned out to be a touchdown."

Hill outran defenders on his 58-yard touchdown catch from Patrick Mahomes on Sunday. But the rest of Hill's skills were on display on Sunday as well. His route running has become more meticulous and he made a spectacular catch of a 30-yard pass.

He landed awkwardly and hit his head. He was checked for a concussion and cleared to return. He later scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard reception and then proceeded to celebrate with a backflip.

"Tyreek's really worked on his route running and everything in order to make him one of the best receivers in this league," Mahomes said. "Today kind of showed that he has improved on that part as well as the speed that he can bring at any time."

Hill has nine plays of 50 or more yards since Week 15 of the 2016 season. No other NFL player has more than four in that span.

Four of Hill's nine plays have come in the past four games against the Chargers, who have more difficulty in defending him than any other Chiefs opponent.

Hill caught seven of Mahomes' 15 completions. Kansas City's other two main receivers, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce, combined for just four catches.

"It's hard to double him," coach Andy Reid said. "There are people around him where they can't just put him as the primary focus."