It is not just arm strength.
Or the wit.
Or the competitiveness.
Or leadership qualities.
When you look at Patrick Mahomes and try to discover what makes him the best quarterback in the NFL today, it’s the best, they are all those things wrapped in the body of 6 feet 3 inches and 229 pounds of these 24 years old phenomenon.
Mahomes is the main reason why the Chiefs have the legitimate hope of winning their first Super Bowl championship since the days of Len Dawson, remember the legendary photo of him smoking a cigarette and drinking a bottle of Fresca at halftime, and Hank Stram: “Enrolling the ball through the field, boys!” – in Super Bowl IV.
Half a century has passed since those iconic scenes, and the Chiefs have known little more than the failure of the playoffs at that time. They have never returned to a Super Bowl, have had very little luck in the quarterback position, especially in the draft, and even the magic of Joe Montana could not deliver a championship when he spent the last years of his career in Kansas City.
But Mahomes … man, this guy has made up for all those near failures and all those losing seasons and all those quarterback disappointments. He is the reigning MVP, and although he won’t beat the Ravens Lamar Jackson phenomenon for the prize this time, Mahomes has the opportunity to finish his season in a much more spectacular way.
This should have been the week we saw Mahomes take on Jackson in what would have been an epic showdown between the Chiefs and the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. What a duel the MVP 2018 could have been against the alleged MVP 2019, an offensive show, as we had never seen before.
Mahomes did his part to get to the game that the AFC participant in the Super Bowl LIV will decide, organizing a remarkable return of a 24-0 deficit at home against the Texans by recovering seven consecutive scores, including five scoring passes, in a 51-31 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. But Jackson couldn’t stand his final against the Titans, Cinderella’s team this year, in a 28-12 loss in Baltimore.
So now the stage belongs to Mahomes, who must beat the Titans to keep their appointment with destiny. A victory over Tennessee in the game for Sunday’s AFC title at Arrowhead will create new memories where those of Dawson, Stram, Mike Garrett, Willie Lanier and Curley Culp will be in the minds of those old enough to have seen them win the Chiefs’ last championship and those young enough to have stories of their exploits passed down from generation to generation.
He rests a lot on Mahomes’ shoulders, mainly the hopes and dreams of a fan base so accustomed to anguish and a wardrobe full of teammates and coaches whose destiny lies with him. But he seems to welcome the enormity of the moment, a player who understands that he will have to get up when his team needs him most.
As he did last week, when he gathered his teammates on the sidelines after a shocking sequence of events that reduced the Chiefs by 24 points in the first half and told them to remain calm and optimistic. He responded with a performance for all ages.
“When you play in these kinds of games, not everything will be great, but you have to find a way to win, find a way to fight,” Mahomes said this week. “What I trust is going out and competing. No matter what the score, winning or losing, I will do my best on each play. That was how I grew up. This is how this team flows. “
Coach Andy Reid was in love with Mahomes when he began watching him for the first time during the time of Field Marshal at Texas Tech. Mahomes, son of former Major League pitcher Pat Mahomes, was a star in the Red Raiders offensive, throwing 93 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in his three years there. Some scouts wondered if his work in the open offensive “Air Raid” might not have prepared him well for the NFL, where the defenses create much smaller windows and the level of competition is enormously higher.
But Reid swapped smartly for Mahomes, let him learn for a year behind veteran Alex Smith, and then got engaged to Mahomes since the beginning of the 2018 season. The quarterback was spectacular, finishing with 50 touchdown passes, the highest of the league, as a runaway winner of the MVP trophy.
He had the Chiefs in a position to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead, producing a fourth quarter of 24 points to send the game overtime. But the Chiefs’ defense failed them once again, allowing a touchdown of Tom Brady and leaving Kansas City an agonizing loss away from the Super Bowl.
He returned for another attempt against a team of the Titans who knows it will be a difficult exit.
“You have to be prepared for everything,” Mahomes said. “The Titans are physical and will challenge you in all aspects of the game.”
You are ready to do what you must do.
“Whenever you are in the playoffs playing against these great defenses,” he said, “you have to use everything you can.” If that forces me to fight, I will. If that forces me to sit in my pocket, I will. Knowing this [Titans] team and their coaching staff, they will fight until the end, whatever happens. “
But Mahomes thinks he can, and will, win that fight.
He is the best hope of the Chiefs, his only hope, really, for this to happen.