MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Patrick Mahomes never truly settled in Sunday night and was mostly unremarkable, but his off games are better than most quarterbacks’ good ones. Plays that are unorthodox for others are nothing special to him. Their weird is his normal.
And the Chiefs’ foresight of his unusual, unmatched ability got them their first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years. Mahomes led them to a 31-20 Super Bowl victory against the 49ers, turning a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead like it was nothing.
“He kept firing,” coach Andy Reid said. “And the guys around him just believed in him. We all did.”
Mahomes sidestepped danger and turned would-be sacks into gains all night. It was far from graceful, but he ran well. And the play that saved the Chiefs’ season, a 44-yard pass to Tyreek Hill on 3rd-and-15, was as Mahomesian as it gets: a sidearmed heave to a player nobody else on the field realized was open.
He finished 26-for-42 for 286 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but was named Super Bowl MVP for his gutsy plays near the end.
“I’m gonna keep throwing it no matter what,” Mahomes said.
The scary part for the rest of the NFL is that he’ll only get better — not just better than the uneven performance he delivered Sunday, but better than the two MVP-level seasons he already has posted.
This is as good of a time as any to remind everyone that Bears general manager Ryan Pace chose Mitch Trubisky instead in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Mahomes will have many more chances to win Super Bowls. In just two seasons as a starter, he already has shown he’s great enough to make any team a contender regardless of the supporting cast. The only other members of that elite club are Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
“As long as we keep the people that we have in this organization and on this team, with the coach that we have, I think we have a chance to be good year in and year out,” Mahomes said. “But it’s not gonna be easy.”
That’s a careful, humble answer, but we all know his belief is off the charts.
Mahomes is prolific in talent and confidence, and he wasn’t shaken at all by the 49ers’ 20-10 lead with seven minutes left. This is the same guy who rallied from 24-0 down against the Texans and 10-0 down against the Titans to get here.
The game undoubtedly was over when the Chiefs forced a punt with 5:10 remaining and the 49ers clinging to an ill-fated 20-17 lead. Mahomes is inevitable, and it took him only two minutes and 26 seconds to pull ahead on a five-yard touchdown pass to Damien Williams.
There’s every reason to think Mahomes could be the next Tom Brady. Brady’s career started similarly, winning his first Super Bowl at 24. He and Mahomes mostly skipped the usual painful process of crawling through playoff heartbreaks before finally taking the title.
“It’s pretty amazing the dynasty, or whatever you want to call it, the Patriots have had these last 15-20 years,” Mahomes said. “So for me, it’s about taking it one year at a time. . . . When we come back next year, it’s gonna [take] the same amount of tenacity and dedication.”
As for the Chiefs’ future, they still have Mahomes under contract cheaply for next season and will let him write his own contract extension soon. Plus, all of their top skill players are signed for at least one more season. There’s a clear path to succeed the Patriots as the NFL’s next great dynasty.
“Not only are we going to win it this year, next year we’re coming back,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said.
They’ll be going about it the opposite way the Patriots did — mostly in the sense that they’re driven by offense and likable — but thanks to Mahomes, they can back that up.