Even on one leg Patrick Mahomes is better than Trevor Lawrence on his favorite day. If you weren’t aware, Lawrence had never lost on a Saturday until yesterday, when the Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-20. In a game that was supposedly predetermined, postseason football happened and the league MVP caught an ankle injury early on in the first half.
Playoff football has a funny way of making the audience sit up and pay attention. So with Kansas City backup QB Chad Henne entering the game in the second quarter with the Chiefs backed up on their own two-yard line, our collective eyes were on Arrowhead Stadium.
What happened next was perhaps the most important drive of KC’s season, and it ended up being the franchise’s longest drive in postseason history. The 12-play, six-minute touchdown march put the home team ahead 17-7, and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
And just in case you thought the schoolyard bully had been bloodied, Mahomes returned in the second half and led the offense to drives for a touchdown and a field goal while the defense limited the Jags to a touchdown and a garbage time field goal that only served the people who took Jacksonville and the points.
Next Sunday will mark Kansas City’s fifth straight AFC title game, and if the Chiefs can get back to the Super Bowl, the rest of the conference will officially be playing catch up. What we saw Saturday was a confident, well-coached team that knows who it is.
Regardless of who the opponent is, Mahomes will face a week full of questions about his health, and this is the exact kind of scenario that he can rise to in order to solidify his spot as the NFL’s alpha dog. No. 15 makes the game look so easy that it’s only fair that he’s forced to play at a severe disadvantage.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers’ seasons are done, and the most logical challengers to the throne face off in Buffalo today. We’ve wondered all season if KC is sleepwalking, or isn’t as good as we thought. They were put in a position that would make most teams sweat profusely, and navigated it with the ease of an adult tying their own shoes.
Travis Kelce broke the record for most receptions by a tight end in a playoff game (14), and came one catch away from tying the record for any position. Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco racked up 95 yards on the ground. Kansas City outgained Jacksonville despite their leader missing half a quarter and spending the second half with his ankle under 2 inches of tape.
The caveat for all the Patrick Price commercials and Andy Reid cameos is football fans expect the rings to follow. While Mahomes is separating himself from his peers, he’s entering a new stratosphere, one where we stop comparing him to active signal callers and start measuring him against the greats.
It’s elite company to keep, and can make everyone from Rodgers to Peyton Manning look pedestrian. The chat that Mahomes is about to enter is a beast, and he’s competing for so much more than another Super Bowl appearance. When the game comes as easy to a QB as it does to Mahomes, fans want to see him pushed to the limit.
And that’s what the playoffs are about. Murphy’s law is in full effect, and the hurdles spring up at random. The fun part is seeing who can keep their poise when the house is a smoldering ember, and Mahomes passed his first test of 2023 with relative ease.