We learned a few things on Sunday after the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-17 win over the New England Patriots. Patrick Mahomes continues to adjust to the struggles of the offense. He was sometimes frustrated, but he had open receivers all game long against an outstanding defense. That should give hope for post-season success.
In Kansas City, the playoffs are around the corner. In one of their four consecutive tune-up games before January football, they took care of business against the once mighty New England Patriots 27-17 with relative ease.
Patrick Mahomes had two touchdowns, threw for over 300 yards, and had open receivers littering the field on Sunday. Yes, mistakes were made, including penalties, dropped passes, and turnovers, but Mahomes kept pushing and pushing until the final snap.
The internal resiliency and determination Mahomes longs for within every drive are astonishing and admirable. As badly as he wants perfection from one snap to the next, it alludes to him. Sometimes, it happens; other times, it does not. Yet, he never quits or gives up.
In his weekly column this morning, Peter King spoke to Mahomes after the Patriots win and talked about how this season has made him a better quarterback.
“I actually think it’s been really good for me as a player. You want to score every drive, but we haven’t, obviously, and we’ve had our struggles. It’s helped me grow not only as a player but as a person,” Mahomes said.
I’ve heard a lot of lip speak from NFL players after tough wins and bitter losses, but I’ve never heard players as honest as Mahomes. He is the rare player who internalizes everything and demands of himself to improve every player around him.
He leads by example, and he’s never wavered in his desire to be the best player for his teammates. That’s why Sunday’s win was so significant for Kansas City. Defeating bad teams isn’t as easy as fans think. We’ve seen plenty of upsets this season against the Chiefs and some of the top teams in the NFL.
Any given Sunday has never been more on point than in 2023. There is NO clear-cut favorite in the NFC or the AFC because a bad loss shakes up the championship tree. Everyone is on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon right now after back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys.
Yet, if they lose one of their final three games, their season is over.
That’s the razor-thin line Mahomes balances on every snap. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but Kansas City isn’t going to add players that can magically change that narrative in December. The Chiefs are what they are, and Mahomes has no choice but to play the hand he’s dealt.
Still, Mahomes is in a unique position this season. With all the adversity, the bitter losses, turnovers, mistakes, penalties, and a weak receiving group, he’s never lost faith or confidence in his teammates. That happens because he knows, beginning now, if Kansas City wants to win back-to-back Super Bowls, he needs to carry them across the finish line.
We can talk about Josh Allen, Brock Purdy, and Lamar Jackson all day during the regular season. However, they have yet to win a thing in January. If you’ve been paying attention, there’s a simple reason for their failures in January: they don’t have the cast around them with the experience and fight like the Chiefs.
Battle-tested is a phrase that can’t be duplicated unless you’ve spent years mastering the discipline to win playoff games. Kansas City has hosted five straight AFC Title games at Arrowhead. They’ve been to three of the last four Super Bowls, winning two.
That’s happened because when the playoff lights go on, so do the Chiefs. In the last five years, there hasn’t been a situation they’ve not faced, and as a collective, they know what it takes to turn a January loss into a January win. The field does not.
So, buckle up, Chiefs fans, wear the badge of disrespect with honor because Mahomes will get the last laugh.