Patrick Mahomes and the Art of Comebacks…
The numbers don’t lie, do they? In fact, they never do.
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Feb 2, 2020 – Super Bowl LIV: At the end of the third quarter, the 49ers lead the Chiefs 20-10. Late in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes stages a comeback of epic proportions to help the Chiefs storm to a 31-20 win.
Feb 12, 2023 – Super Bowl LVII: At the end of the first half, the Eagles lead the Chiefs 24-14. Mahomes comes into his own late in the fourth quarter to help the Chiefs storm to a 38-35 win.
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Feb 12, 2024 – Super Bowl LVIII: Early in the second quarter, the 49ers lead the Chiefs 10-0. Mahomes has a single-digit passing yards in the first quarter. He switches on and almost single-handedly turns it around to help the Chiefs storm to a 25-22 win.
What’s common in all the three Super Bowl wins we are talking about? Kansas City Chiefs storming to a win? Yes. When you look closer, the Chiefs trailed by 10 points at some stage in all of them (and that’s a reasonably tough place to be in for any team in a big event like the Super Bowl) and bounced back in style. It’s almost as if it was scripted. Karma connection. Let’s call it the Mahomes connection. Some players just love to thrive in tense situations and Mahomes is surely one of them. You almost wonder if he likes to see himself and his team in such circumstances to bring out the very best in him.
On a night when he had a horrific start with poor early yardage and an interception, Mahomes once again showed why he decides when to rise. Post the kind of start he had, to end the night with 333 yards and two touchdowns is insane. He was near flawless in the third and fourth quarters.
From Pick-6 on opening night…
It was that kind of a night. It was that kind of a season. It started that way too. Hardcore NFL fans won’t forget what happened on the opening night against the Lions. Mahomes was caught in an odd spot after throwing a Pick-6 to rookie Defensive Back of Detroit Lions, Brian Branch. I still feel that Pick-6 was less of Mahomes’ own doing and more of the wide receiver, Kadarius Toney. Mahomes’ reaction post the Pick-6 and immediately after the 21-20 loss to the Lions was not very good. The live crew picked Mahomes ‘uttering a word in frustration’ immediately after that moment and even in the post-match, he stated he was ‘embarrassed’ by the way the Chiefs lost. For me, Mahomes’ reacting that way was not entirely unexpected.
After all, it wasn’t the kind of opening night Mahomes had experienced in recent memory. 226 yards for 2 touchdowns and an interception were his lowest opening night effort in five years. A year before, he had five touchdowns for a whopping 360 yards as the Chiefs had demolished the Cardinals 44-21.
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An inauspicious start to the season had created a mild chatter. Will this be an ‘off’ season for Mahomes and Andy Reid? Even though the Chiefs recovered from the Lions’ loss to notch 6 wins in a row, Mahomes himself was not at his best in the first few fixtures. Four interceptions in his first four games of the season were clearly pointing towards an underwhelming season.
That night against the Broncos…
Things went from slightly bad to reasonably worse on a night of frustrations against the Broncos. Mahomes had not thrown a touchdown pass for the first time in two years in that game. The performance that night shook the Chiefs no ends up. It also began a mid-season slump where they would go on to lose four out of six games, some of which were against quality opponents they would likely face in the postseason – Bills and Eagles. The Chiefs did comfortably make the playoffs but without a mid-season slump, they could well have been in contention for a seeding higher than the No.3 that they eventually ended with.
The postseason was a different story altogether. It is almost as if the Chiefs care only about the knockout games. Mahomes came into his own against the Dolphins in freezing weather in the wildcard game and that clearly set the tone. Only 1 interception in four knockout games and comebacks from tight situations in two of these four games cemented his legacy as a big game player.
Montana and Bradshaw in sight
In the NFL, while we look at important statistics like total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, and yards per play, analysts often look for an important stat – hidden yardage. I am not getting into that for now, maybe on another day. All I want to say is Mahomes is that hidden gem you can never write off in any situation. The Eagles realized it last year. The 49ers realized it five years ago and once again, tonight.
At 28, Mahomes has plenty of quarterback steam left in him. With three Super Bowl wins already in his kitty, he is edging slowly but surely toward Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Tom Brady is still some distance away, but should the Reid-Mahomes magic continue, Mahomes could reach within sniffing distance of Brady at some stage.
For now, all Mahomes would care about is a well-deserved offseason after a grueling season of gains on and off the field. He also has reasons to be grateful to Travis Kelce, who hogged most of the Chiefs’ headlines. It allowed Mahomes to stay away from the glare and focus on what he loves doing best – comebacks.
On another note…
Time for the NFL (and Chiefs) to thank Swift
The Chiefs’ ownership has more reasons to celebrate than just the Super Bowl win. Of course, becoming the first team in 19 years to win back-to-back titles is an incredible moment on the field, but plenty of off-field action featuring Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce has been the icing on the cake.
The AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and Ravens became the most-watched ever with 55 million viewers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is already predicting the Super Bowl viewership to be in excess of 200 million. I am extremely eager to look at the final viewership statistics of this year’s Super Bowl and am safely assuming all records will be shattered.
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Like it or not, Taylor Swift has had a massive influence on this year’s NFL. From viewership surges to jersey sales, Swift’s influence should never be understated. I read a recent report on a highly reliable business portal that spoke at length about Swift’s impact. 400% rise in Travis Kelce jersey sales; Valentine’s Day Chocolate Box sales are hitting a new high; ticket sales at record high… I can go on, but the bottom line is clear. Swift has ensured NFL is alive and kicking and fans can’t have enough of the sport.
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Until we come back again…
Rajesh Viswanathan is a former Managing Editor at Microsoft, where he actively covered American sports. He is currently the Editorial Mentor of EssentiallySports.