Chiefs’ Super Bowl win puts Patrick Mahomes in GOAT conversation

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

Adorned with a championship hat and confetti resting on his shoulders, quarterback Patrick Mahomes joined the midfield frenzy that surrounded him late Sunday evening. Then he shouted on stage, “We’re Super Bowl champions, baby!” His team had won the Super Bowl, beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35. How great of a player Mahomes can truly be was illustrated in his vintage second-half performance for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.

Vindication was never sweeter. What he’s done has further solidified the fact that he’s still the best quarterback in the NFL right now. Six seasons since Mahomes burst onto the scene, six years later, Mahomes is a two-time Super Bowl champion. The guy is fearless and resilient, engineering a second-half, double-digit comeback and leading a gusty, clutch fourth-quarter drive that helped propel the Chiefs to triumph. He won his second Super Bowl MVP.

This Chiefs team is supremely talented. This Chiefs team is led by a generational talent who continues to amaze us with his rare athleticism. It’s an enjoyable product with Mahomes showing off his creativity, amazing escapability, arm strength and moxie, even when he’s not 100 percent. The Mahomes era is only beginning. When it comes to Mahomes, all the GOAT talk is already centered around him. Can he catch Tom Brady? Did he earn the nickname the Baby GOAT? Maybe that’s a debate for another time.

But now he’s simply the best quarterback in today’s NFL. Under heavy pressure, he played brilliantly, he performed his best when the lights were the brightest. There’s no question it was difficult for Mahomes, who overcame an injured ankle. But, as tough as he is, he played through the pain and discomfort. There’s also the heavy expectations that comes with being an elite quarterback on any big-market team. As you might have noticed, he has lived up to the hype that led to him becoming football’s most recognizable name.

You can’t deny that Mahomes has the physical tools and creative instincts that put him in a class of his own. You can’t ignore the fact that he’s on track to be the greatest quarterback of all time based on very telling stats. Nobody has been better than a one-legged Mahomes. How can anyone not think that he isn’t after he orchestrated three straight scoring drives to ice the game? How can anyone not think that he isn’t after watching him complete 21 of 27 passes for 182 yards and three touchdown throws with zero interceptions.

In the Chiefs’ last possession of the first half, Mahomes appeared to have re-aggravated his right ankle. The Chiefs got a scare when Mahomes was seen limping off the field following a tackle by Philadelphia linebacker T.J. Edwards. He laid on the grass with a football under his right leg. His reaction was a frightening one. He was screaming in pain as he dropped on the bench. He was grimacing as he lowered his head in frustration. Medical personnel examined his right ankle on the sideline. This wasn’t good.

The Eagles had a 10-point lead as Rihanna took center stage at halftime. The Eagles were flying. Their stars were dominating. The Chiefs defense couldn’t get off the field. Philadelphia’s breakout star Jalen Hurts was fantastic in his first-ever Super Bowl appearance. The one blemish on his historic performance was the game-changing fumble. Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton scooped up the ball and ran 36 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14 points. The momentum that built up over the first two quarters was gone.

There was nothing the Eagles could do that would slow down Mahomes in the second half. He made this happen, by scanning the field to throw, by stepping up in the pocket and by taking off up the field. He got it done, by spreading the ball around the field and by completing two key scrambles. He was versatile. He was deadly. He was absolutely clutch.

The second half was particularly dominant by Mahomes. The Chiefs’ exciting offense ran through the Eagles defense. Mahomes, hobbled and battered, limped around the backfield and delivered in a thrilling comeback. He took his game to another level, on the second half’s first drive — injured ankle and all — completing scrambling passes and amazingly running for 14 yards as he lead the Chiefs downfield that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Isiah Pacheco to trim the deficit.

The Eagles responded with a field-goal, but Mahomes answered back since Philadelphia’s defense had no answer for Mahomes. In what was a legacy-defining second half, he came out and went 13-of-14 passing for 93 yards and two touchdown passes. He could barely walk, let alone run around and move freely. But in one of the best Super Bowls ever, he was locked in, he was dealing and went six for six on a drive that culminated with a five-yard touchdown pass to Kadarius Toney to eventually give the Chiefs a 28-27 lead.

The night turned for the Chiefs when Toney broke free for a 65-yard punt return, the longest in Super Bowl history. Toney’s sprint downfield gave Kansas City favorable field position and Mahomes needed just three plays to fling a four-yard touchdown pass to Skyy Moore to extend the lead. Against the league’s best defense, Mahomes connected on passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce and then jetted his way up the middle to set up a game-winning field goal on the final drive in the closing minutes of the game. When Mahomes is really rolling, when he leaves it all out there, he’s nearly impossible to stop.

This game was decided by the clutch drive from Mahomes, who joins Brady as the only quarterback to appear in three Super Bowls in his first six seasons. The Chiefs have won their second Super Bowl in four years, in large part because of Mahomes’ mastery and brilliance. We’re talking about a dynasty here, with Mahomes’ name being attached to the Chiefs. That’s the benefit of having a high-caliber player like Mahomes.

Their unicorn quarterback has done nothing but put the team on his back. Their superstar became the first quarterback to win the regular-season NFL MVP award and the Super Bowl in the same season in 23 years. Their most respected player is already checking all the boxes. The roster is built around Mahomes, with the collection of weapons designed to magnify his strengths. He’s now 27, and he is the NFL’s greatest quarterback, and he is widely regarded as the heir to Tom Brady’s throne. And with a lot of football left in him, he could one day surpass No. 12 as the new GOAT. It’s not too early to discount the idea that Mahomes — so lauded after Sunday night’s heroics, just three years removed from holding up his first Lombardi Trophy — is that guy. That we are having that discussion now is because of what happened at State Farm Stadium in the desert. What he did will be cemented in sports lore.

Did you see how he played with a bum ankle? Mahomes’ versatility came in handy and, with his offensive creation, his physical attributes and his show of resilience, he was able to carry his weight of the team on his shoulders. Unbelievable. He’s the best active football player alive. He’s the best football player in the world. As the catalyst of a topflight offense, Mahomes has led his team to another Super Bowl win.

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Jonathan Mathis as known as The Sports Judge is the founder of SoCalChronicle. He is a professional Sports writer, contributor, Youtuber, podcaster @ ASAP Network, and co-host of Gonzo & The Judge Sports Talk. Follow the [email protected]


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