Travis Kelce obviously is a little biased. But when asked Sunday night whether Patrick Mahomes belongs in the conversation as one of the five greatest quarterbacks to play the game and if so, where would he put him in the pecking order, the Chiefs tight end didn’t hesitate.
“Numero uno, baby,’’ he said. “Number one. You’re seeing it as it unfolds. But I’m calling it right now. I’m counting on my guy being the best to ever do it when all is said and done. I know he’s the best to do it right now.’’
Mahomes is only 27. This is just his sixth year in the league and his fifth as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback. But earlier this week, he collected his second league MVP award.
Sunday night, he won his second Super Bowl and his second Super Bowl MVP award, leading the Chiefs back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35.
READ: Ranking Every Super Bowl MVP
“MVPat,’’ said Kelce after Mahomes completed 21 of 27 passes and had three TD passes against the Eagles. “You can’t say enough about what this guy means to our city and this team.’’
With a minute and a half left in the first half Sunday night, things looked grim for the Chiefs. Trailing 21-14, Mahomes aggravated his high-ankle sprain when he was tackled by Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards on a third-and-15 scramble.
Mahomes limped off the field, the Chiefs punted the ball back to the Eagles and they managed to drive 40 yards on eight plays and add a 35-yard Jake Elliott field goal at the end of the half to give the NFC champions a 24-14 lead.
This was the 57th Super Bowl. In the previous 56, teams with a double-digit lead at the half were 26-1. And none of the 26 teams that were trailing had a quarterback with a bum ankle.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid took some of the pressure off of Mahomes in the second half by running the ball more than he usually does. The Chiefs ran the ball 19 times in the second half for 119 yards.
But Mahomes shook off the ankle injury and shredded the Eagles’ defense in the second half, completing 13 of 14 passes. He also had a huge 26-yard run on the Chiefs’ final possession, as they drove down for a game-winning 27-yard field goal by Harrison Butker.
“He’s the MVP,’’ Reid said. “That’s all that needs to be said. MVP. You saw it tonight.”
“Nobody panicked. All of the guys trust Pat first of all. When he came in at halftime, I asked him, ‘You OK? Can you do this?’ And he says, ‘I can do everything, coach. Just leave me alone and let me go play. Then the big o-line stepped up for him.’’
The Eagles’ big, bad pass rush was merciless on offensive lines and quarterbacks this season. They notched 70 sacks in the regular season, the third most in league history. They added eight more in their first two playoff wins. In their previous eight games, including the playoffs, the Eagles had 42 sacks and 176 total quarterback pressures. On Sunday night, Mahomes wasn’t sacked a single time.
“They took it personal, man,’’ Mahomes said of the Chiefs’ offensive line. “They have one of the greatest defensive lines of all time. And they have one of the greatest offensive lines of all time. And we respect that and give them their kudos. But we believe we have a great offensive line as well.
“I think those guys got a little tired of being asked what they were going to do against that great defensive line. They took it as a challenge and they responded. I told them earlier in the week, if y’all play great, we’ll win this football game. And they did it.’’
Mahomes clearly was in pain in the second half. But he would’ve played on one leg if he had to.
“I told y’all this week, there’s nothing that was going to keep me off that football field,’’ he said.’
Mahomes became only the fourth quarterback in history to win multiple Super Bowls and multiple league MVP awards. The other three? Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana. Manning and Montana are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brady will be in there in five years when he becomes eligible. And one day, so will Mahomes. But that day still is far off.
“Hey, don’t brag him up too much,’’ Reid said. “I don’t want him retiring on me.’’
In Mahomes’ five seasons as the Chiefs’ starter, they have won five division titles, been to three Super Bowls and won two of them, and have made it to the AFC Championship Game every year.
The best is yet to come.
“The great ones, like Pat, make everybody around him better, man,’’ Reid said. “Nobody does it better than this guy.’’
Sunday night was the fourth time Mahomes has brought the Chiefs back from a double-digit deficit in a playoff game.
“This is a long game, man,’’ Kelce said. “You can score pretty quick with a guy like 1-5 back there. We all went into that halftime and looked at each other and said we’re not putting it out there like we know we can. We aren’t playing with the same passion, with the same attention to detail that we usually do.
“Focus and energy wins at the end of the day in games like this. You have to play your tail off and strain. And you saw everybody straining to finish in that second half.’’
Mahomes is 74-19 as a starter, including 10-3 in the playoffs. In the Chiefs’ three playoff wins, he had a 114.7 passer rating, a 72.0 completion percentage, seven TD passes and no interceptions. For his career, he has a 107.4 passer rating in the postseason with 35 TD passes and just seven interceptions.
Reid is 64. It took him 22 years to win his first Super Bowl. Now he’s got two of them with Mahomes, and possibly more on the way.
“I think I’m gonna hang around for a while,’’ Reid said when asked about retirement rumors.
Added Mahomes: “We’re not done.’’