Patrick Mahomes not slowing down as Chiefs prepare for Tom Brady's Bucs
Patrick Mahomes continues greatest start to a quarterback's career in NFL history; Kansas City Chiefs have won 18 of last 19 games; Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost two of last three; watch Chiefs at Bucs on Sky Sports on Sunday at 9.25pm
By James Simpson - @JS_Football
Last Updated: 29/11/20 4:22pm
Patrick Mahomes did it again last Sunday.
After Derek Carr’s one-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten had given the Las Vegas Raiders a 31-28 lead against their AFC West rivals, there was just one minute and 43 seconds left on the clock.
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Against most other teams around the league, the Raiders would have reason to celebrate. They could have forced the Chiefs to kick a long field, and perhaps force a tie. At the very least, they should have been able to hold the Chiefs out of the end zone.
But it has become synonymous with the Chiefs under Andy Reid and Mahomes that even if you score late against this team, it’s probably still too early.
Inevitably, it took seven attempts, six completions, and only one minute and 15 seconds for Kansas City to race down the field and take a lead of their own when Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a 22-yard touchdown.
As rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire put it, “we’ve got Patrick Mahomes. I’m not worried about anything”.
Edwards-Helaire shouldn’t be worried about anything at all, neither should the rest of the players, the coaches, the fans… He’s here to stay. Who should be worried? Every other team in the league. The Chiefs have won 18 of their last 19 games!
In the 2020 season so far, we’ve witnessed a blistering start from Russell Wilson where he threw 14 touchdowns in his first three games. Despite not having top weapons around him all year, Aaron Rodgers is having a fantastic season with a 115.8 passer rating. How about Kyler Murray and his electric 19-passing-touchdown, 10-rushing-touchdown season?
They’ve all enjoyed their time in the spotlight and have been at the centre of MVP conversations throughout the year. But who will win the award when all is said and done? Let's be honest, it's going to be Mahomes, isn't it?
He trails only Deshaun Watson in passing yards (and Watson has played a game more), is behind Wilson (30) and Rodgers (29) with 27 TD passes, and Rodgers pips him in quarterback rating. But the Chiefs are rolling, he's heating up and his team could end up with 13, 14, maybe even 15 wins.
We knew he would be up there statistically, but what’s most impressive is that it doesn’t seem to be talked about as… impressive. For Mahomes, this is expected. While Wilson is heading towards a career year, Rodgers is looking his early-decade best, and Murray is enjoying a supreme year-two jump, Mahomes is simply hitting his career averages - and so far, it is still the greatest career start we have ever seen.
Through 41 games, Mahomes is first all-time in passing yards (12,447), passing touchdowns (103) and passer rating (110.3). And of course, he already has one regular-season MVP and one Super Bowl MVP award to boot.
We shouldn’t expect him to slow down any time. We shouldn’t even expect anyone else to be able to slow him down at this point. And if he continues at this pace, he will be regarded as one of the greatest - if not the greatest - quarterbacks to play in the league.
On Good Morning Football this week, Peter Schrager said of Mahomes: “I don’t know if any athlete has ever had this quality where, you know that in the biggest moment, he’s going to get it done. He’s so clutch.
“No one else is as consistently amazing in these moments, where you don’t even doubt they’re going to win the game.”
Kyle Brandt argued: “The Steelers might go 16-0 - they really might - and I still don’t know if I’d pick them to beat the Chiefs (currently 9-1) in an AFC title game.
“They have Mahomes, they have the best tight end, the best wide receiver, defensive playmakers who will eventually show up at some point - it’s still Kansas City.”
At this point, it would be unwise to bet against the Chiefs as Super Bowl repeat winners.
On the other side of the field this Sunday is a quarterback who has already reached that lofty, undeniable description as an all-time great. Tom Brady is second all-time in passing yards (77,526), first in passing touchdowns (566 - though he and Drew Brees (565) are neck-and-neck), and most importantly, is first in Super Bowl wins (six).
While Mahomes is just getting started, Brady has been there and done it. He’s had his 5,000-yard season, he’s done 50 touchdowns in one campaign, and he’s won MVP awards. What separated him is his consistency over time. Nineteen seasons as a starter playing at his level add up to ‘GOAT’ status.
Unfortunately for Brady, none of that past success will help him when his shaky Buccaneers (7-4) come up against the red-hot Chiefs.
Along the way to their 9-1 record this season, Kansas City have dismissed Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen… it doesn’t matter who stands in their way, they simply score more - they were only toppled in Week Five when Derek Carr and the Raiders managed to put 40 points on the scoreboard.
Tampa Bay with their new-look, Brady-led offense, started well, reaching 6-2 at the midway point of the season. But a 38-3 loss to New Orleans, in which Brady threw three interceptions, was devastating. They bounced back with a 46-23 win over Carolina, but last week Brady was again below-par, throwing two picks in a 27-24 loss to the Rams.
Brandt said: “It is starting to be a pattern that teams with good defenses beat Brady’s Bucs.
“I’ve tried to have so much patience, that they’ll put it together… At what point are they going to arrive?
“I’m worried about Brady. He can’t hit the deep ball. And he is going to need to put up fireworks against Mahomes - he is going to put up points.”
Over the last three weeks, Brady is 0 of 19 with three interceptions on deep passes (20+ yards). It is a serious problem, especially when we know he will be in a shootout on Sunday.
On Pro Football Talk, Chris Simms said: “The style of play where they’re going to put him in shotgun and expect him to make plays, it’s over.
“Brady is 43 and not going to carry your team doing that stuff anymore. They can’t play that style of football.”
Does Brady still think he is the elite QB of old? Do the Bucs have too high expectations for what he can still do? On Sunday, they will need something special to avoid falling further into a late-season slump.
Watch Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers live on Sky Sports on Sunday at 9.25pm. Coverage begins at 5pm ahead of Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts at 6pm.