The magic moment of Patrick Mahomes
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla._This was shaping up to be the worst game of Patrick Mahomes’ career on the biggest stage of his life.
The magic that made him the NFL MVP in 2018 was missing from a Super Bowl stage Sunday night.
The San Francisco 49ers, with the NFC’s best defense and one of the NFL’s best pass rushes, were refusing to allow the Kansas City quarterback to get comfortable in the pocket. Through 48 minutes, San Francisco’s vaunted front that featured four first-round draft picks hounded, harassed and hit Mahomes.
Mahomes threw a season-high two interceptions and was sacked a season-high four times. With 12 minutes remaining and his team trailing 20-10, Mahomes was sitting on only 167 yards passing – a far cry from the 304 yards he’d been averaging in his brief career. And the Chiefs wouldn’t get the ball back for another three-plus minutes.
Then came the Joe Montana moment. The Tom Brady moment. The Kurt Warner moment.
The moment when a quarterback puts his team on his shoulders in the closing minutes of a Super Bowl and wills his squad to victory. The moment that a good quarterback transforms himself into a great one. Like Warner in 2000 and Brady in 2002, a legend was born in a 31-20 Kansas City victory.
After that interception by San Francisco safety Tarvarius Moore early in the fourth quarter, Mahomes focused on the task of winning a football game. The swagger was back. So were the big plays -- a 44-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill on a third-and-15 that set up the first touchdown of the comeback. Then a 38-yard bomb to Sammy Watkins on a second-and-7 that set up the go-ahead TD.
Mahomes completed 8-of-14 passes for 119 yards as the clock was winding down over those final nine minutes to deliver the Chiefs their first Lombardi Trophy in 49 years with three consecutive touchdown drives. One of his incompletions in that stretch was a throwaway under pressure. Another was a catch by Hill that was overturned by replay. Mahomes also chipped in 14 yards rushing on three other plays when he was flushed from the pocket. He finished the game completing his final six passes, giving him 286 yards for the night. He passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another on his way to Super Bowl MVP honors.
“Like it or not,” Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young told me a few years back, “quarterbacks are judged by their rings.”
Mahomes became the 33rd quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He joins a fraternity of one-time winners that includes the likes of Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Warner and Young.
The next challenge is to join the fraternity of two-time winners that includes Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, John Elway and Peyton Manning. The fraternity of three-time winners looms farther down the road with Troy Aikman, then comes the four-time winners Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, then finally the exclusive six-time winners club that includes only Brady.
At 24, Mahomes has plenty of time to define his own greatness. Kansas City can brace for an entertaining ride.