What happened to the idiotic narrative? You know, the one that had the media industrial complex generating many written words and overheated talk-show segments about Patrick Mahomes. And how he would be competing in an AFC playoff road game for the first time in his career.
I’m not sure what these strangely alarmed souls expected to see. Would the boisterous Buffalo fans make him cry? Would a rattled, overwhelmed Mahomes have an unfortunate accident in his uniform britches? OMG, how could Mahomes survive in a true AFC road game, surrounded by 70,000 enemies and far from his safe space at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City?
Patrick Mahomes was …
Only better than what we saw during other game days during a stressful 2023 regular season. The NFL’s best quarterback since he became a starter in 2018, Mahomes did what he does. He wins. He rules. On Sunday in Erie County, the top Chief maintained his poise and precision to take down the Bills, 27-24.
The Chiefs advanced to their sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game. Remarkable.
Let’s have a moment of respectful silence for quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills.
Do you remember the early years of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls, and their frustrating failure to get past the rugged Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs? Well, for all of their exciting and charismatic talent, Allen and the Bills can’t overcome the AFC blockade set by Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Mahomes is now 3-0 against Allen in the postseason. In the three games (combined) Mahomes has completed 75 percent of his passes, struck for eight touchdown throws without an interception, and has a passer rating of 127.4.
The pressure of an AFC road game did not jangle any of his nerves. In his 16th career postseason game, Mahomes improved his record to a superb 13-3. He logged a 131.6 passer rating that was ranked fourth in his playoff history. But this one meant a little more; the 131.6 rating was his best rating in a postseason matchup against Allen.
In the victory at Buffalo, Mahomes connected with right end Travis Kelce for two touchdowns, completed 74 percent of his pass attempts, posted his highest pass-play success rate (66.7%) in a postseason test, averaged a phat 9.3 yards per attempt (his second-best of the season) and drove an explosive offense to a series of big plays.
As an offense the Chiefs netted 7.7 yards per play, their highest rate in any game this season. Mahomes had nearly as many 20-plus yard pass plays (five) as incompletions (six). On the other side, Allen’s longest completion went for a modest 15 yards.
Despite having the ball for only seven possessions, the Chiefs scored on five of the drives and reached the 1-yard line before wide receiver Mecole Hardman fumbled away another score. The Kansas City offense has made significant strides in their 2-0 playoff run.
The victory booked Kansas City’s trip to Baltimore for a showdown against the top-seeded Ravens. Let’s hope that Jason Kelce makes the trip. The Chiefs won the day, of course. But Jason Kelce – the future Hall of Fame center and big bro of Travis – finished second with his shirtless, bellowing, display of beer guzzling. Kelce also won the pregame tailgate party, downing shots of alcohol out of a bowling ball at the behest of delighted, jacked-up Bills fans. What a spirit animal for the people. Sunday’s third winner was Taylor Swift. Of course.
Now, onto Baltimore … for an encore? To earn a spot in yet another Super Bowl? Man, it will be tough. Really tough. Coach John Harbaugh’s team has an ominous defense. This season the Ravens allowed the fewest points, had the most sacks, heisted the highest number of takeaways, and gave up the lowest average of yards per play.
Of course there’s the presumptive NFL most valuable player for 2023 – the spectacular playmaking quarterback Lamar Jackson.
In Saturday’s 34-10 liquidation of the Houston Texans, Jackson became the first player in NFL history to sculpt this incredible combination of artwork in a postseason game: 100-plus passing yards, 100-plus rushing yards, a 100-plus passer rating, two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores. Whoa. How can the Chiefs put a stop to that?
We’ll see. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s KC defense has mounted strenuous resistance all season and came up large in Sunday’s road win. The Chiefs’ excellent secondary erased the deep pass out of Buffalo’s playbook. Kansas City was porous in its rushing defense early on, but tightened up as the game raged on. With Allen romping through the traffic, the Bills ran for 94 yards on their first two possessions … but had just 88 yards rushing on their final six drives.
With the game clearly on the line, Buffalo averaged only 3.4 yards per rushing attempt on its final three possessions – gaining three or fewer yards on 10 runs, and losing yardage on four other runs. The Bills managed only 10 yards on their final eight rushing attempts of the game – and that included minus 4 yards on five carries by their running backs. It was tremendous work and a turning-point factor in the outcome.
The Kansas City offensive line – justifiably maligned for much of the season – did not allow a sack, or commit knucklehead penalties. For the entire game, the Chiefs were penalized only two times for 15 yards. The O-line also bullied the Bills’ front seven on the ground, with the Chiefs averaging 6.1 yards on 24 runs. Running backs Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire combined for 128 yards on 17 carries for a phenomenal average of 7.5 yards per run.
The Chiefs won in the air. After a slow start the Chiefs adjusted and won on the ground.
More than anything, KC won because they had Mahomes … and the Bills didn’t.
Combining the regular season and postseason, the Chiefs have a preposterous record of 87-25 with Mahomes as their starting QB. That’s a .777 winning percentage. That’s ridiculous. That’s Mahomes.
Sunday, Mahomes came away with his 13th postseason victory, and that’s a lot in only six seasons. The 13 postseason wins tie him with Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger. And Mahomes is closing in on some big names.
Here’s the list of most postseason quarterback names during the Super Bowl Era, which began in 1966:
* Tom Brady, 35
* Joe Montana, 16
* Peyton Manning, 14
* John Elway, 14
* Terry Bradshaw 14
At age 28, Mahomes already has more postseason victories than Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Aaron Rodgers, Jim Kelly, Drew Brees, Steve Young, Dan Marino, Ken Stabler and Kurt Warner.
There’s more …
Among NFL quarterbacks that competed in at least 10 career postseason games, here’s where Mahomes ranks in some important categories:
* 1st in passer rating, 106.7
* 1st in success rate, 52.8%
* 1st (tied) in yards per pass attempt, 8.53
* 2nd in completion percentage, 66.8%
* 3rd (tied) in percentage of passes that go for * touchdowns.
Mahomes is already ninth in the Super Bowl Era with 4,561 postseason passing yards. He’s sixth with 58 touchdown passes – now ahead of Drew Brees and only two behind Peyton Manning.
To repeat: the dude is 28. Mahomes has done all of this in only 16 postseason games. He’s won two Super Bowls and three AFC championships. He’s won two NFL MVP awards and is a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
And to think there were actually people out there who thought Mahomes might be unnerved in his first AFC playoff road game? Really?
Y’all need to work a helluva lot harder on your hot takes.
Thanks for reading …
A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.
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All stats used in this football column was sourced from Pro Football Reference.