LAS VEGAS, NEV. — As I sat in the sportsbook of the Wynn Las Vegas, surrounded by both Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers (more Niners than Chiefs fans), watching the Niners go up 19-16, then 22-19, there was a general unease that overcame the room. The excitement of taking the lead, then the realization of one thing:
Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes was going to rip their heart out once again.
The feeling that people got when Tom Brady ran onto the field with the game on the line is the same one I felt when Mahomes took the field against the 49ers. No matter what San Francisco did, No. 15 was going to get them again.
And that’s exactly what he did, engineering two scoring drives and throwing the game winning touchdown to WR Mecole Hardman to lift the Chiefs to a 25-19 Super Bowl victory, Mahomes’ third in six years as a starting QB. He has as many Super Bowl victories as playoff losses and 41 touchdown passes in the playoffs to only eight interceptions.
So I’m going to do what everyone else is thinking, and just go ahead and say it: Patrick Mahomes is the greatest quarterback of all time.
I know it’s very hard to consider, especially with Tom Brady retiring after the 2022 season and still holding the record for most Super Bowl victories of all time. However, what Mahomes has done in six years’ time has simply been absurd. Since becoming the Chiefs’ starter, he has:
- Won two MVPs
- Won three Super Bowl MVPs
- Won three Super Bowls
- Six Pro Bowls
- Three All-Pro appearances
- Has 219 career passing touchdowns
- Single-season total yards leader
At 28 years old.
That’s a pretty impressive resume to have without even being in the league for 10 years. Mahomes has wowed in both his play on the field and impact when it comes to how the NFL evaluates personnel acquisition and scouting QBs, an incredible thing to think about in such a short period of time.
The revamping of the Chiefs offense, one that took them from being one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL to one of the most efficient, doesn’t have the same success if Mahomes isn’t under center. Trading away a receiver like Tyreek Hill isn’t supposed to lead to back-to-back Super Bowl victories. Mahomes’ average throw depth has gone down every single year, but every single year the outcome feels the same: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs winning a Super Bowl. This offense wasn’t supposed to work, cobbled together with an aging Travis Kelce and receivers who were inconsistent to put it lightly. Yet, they were able to figure it out by the postseason and win the Super Bowl due to that phenomenal defense and Mahomes elevating everyone’s level of play.
Most of all, you just feel the gravity of playing Mahomes. The Chiefs’ opponents this year have all fallen into the trap of going away from the game plan that brought them there, because they’re constantly afraid of Mahomes getting the ball and destroying their franchise again. The thought that you’re going to try and go to a shootout with Mahomes because you don’t want to end up in the position of needing to stop him to win the game: That’s real, and it’s an effect of Mahomes being as good as he is.
Patrick Mahomes has redefined what it means to play the QB position, and then redefined it again. Going from being able to win outside the pocket and making throws off-platform to winning within the pocket and using athleticism to create windows has changed how scouts see the QB position and how QB development has changed. He’s the NFL equivalent to Stephen Curry; a force in the NFL who has remodeled how we see the game as he continues to play. The only thing stopping Mahomes is longevity, but even that wall still has time to be knocked down.
If Patrick Mahomes were to retire tomorrow, he would be the greatest to ever do it at the position. But luckily, we’ll have him for at least another decade.