INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) Back in Week 11 of the NFL’s 2022 regular season, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs provided a blueprint to their greatness when they stormed back from a halftime deficit to whiplash the Los Angeles Chargers with a 30-27 win at SoFi Stadium.
During that game, the Chargers walked into halftime with a 20-13 lead. Mahomes and the Chiefs would outscore Justin Herbert and the Chargers 17-7 in the second half of that ballgame to signal to Los Angeles that they are still the Alpha Dogs in the AFC West Division. One of the key ingredients to Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII run is the bonded magic between Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
Mahomes, who led the Chiefs on a game-winning drive in the AFC Championship against the Cincinnati Bengals, had a spectacular evening against the Chargers, going for 329 passing yards and three touchdowns, including flipping the go-ahead score late in the game to Kelce. Kelce, who caught all three touchdowns thrown by Mahomes, is the layered security blanket that his quarterback can count on.
After that game, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid had high praise for his dynamic duo.
“We’re a part of it, and that’s the fun part,” Reid said. “You’d like it to last forever, but these guys grow old and it’s not [going to last forever]. So, what I do is I try to enjoy every minute of it, every play. Their chemistry is ridiculous. You know, coming into this game, that they had a plan for Kelce and he and Pat were able to work through it and make some nice things happen.”
Mahomes had some special things to say about his tight end.
“I think what is special about him is he just competes,” Mahomes said. “At the end of the day, he’s going to keep fighting until the very end. When you see that, not only is it impressive for him, but it gets other guys going. It shows that, like I say, he’s one of the best, if not the best, tight end of all time, and he’s coming to work every single day to get better. That shows you whenever you step into the facility, you are like, ‘Man, I got to get to work. If this guy is doing it, I have to be able to at least match that.’ And so that leadership that he brings, as well as the play he brings on the field, is special and it takes a lot off my shoulders.”
Kelce showed up big in the AFC title game, coming up with seven catches for 78 yards and a 14-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter on fourth down. He’s not the only one to play big. Mahomes, who has guided the Chiefs to five straight AFC title games, is making his third Super Bowl appearance. Of course, it was Mahomes who shined the brightest when Kansas City needed him.
Mahomes, playing with a high ankle sprain he suffered in Kansas City’s divisional game win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, completed 29 of 43 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. Mahomes delivered in the clutch as he always does, coming up with a huge scramble for a first down on the Chiefs’ winning drive. Harrison Butker would come in the game with seconds remaining to kick a game-winning 45-yard field goal.
Back when the Chiefs played the Chargers, Mahomes said then that performing at an optimum level when the game is on the line is something the team does routinely.
“We do this a lot,” Mahomes said. “[Andy] Reid prepares us for these moments. We knew we had a lot of time on the clock. We knew we had some time outs, so we didn’t rush. We just kind of went through what we do every single day at practice and everything like that, and we executed.”
Reid backed his quarterback’s play on this.
“Didn’t really think about that part,” Reid said about the confidence he has in his team as they prepared for a game-winning drive against the Chargers. “We just went in saying, ‘This is what we have to do.’ Pat [Mahomes] doesn’t worry about all that; he just goes in and plays. These guys, they all practice. [Chiefs Wide Receivers Coach] Joe [Bleymaier] rotates all of them. [Chiefs Tight Ends Coach] Tom Melvin does the same.
Reid continued, “Whoever goes in, goes in and plays. That’s how we roll. As far as practicing, we spend so much time on that during camp, working on it. For it to pay off, it’s a good thing. It seems like every time we come here, it comes down to something like this. I mean, it’s ridiculous.”
Game-winning drives have become second-hand for Mahomes and the Chiefs, who will be playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Mahomes and the Chiefs make it all look easy. That’s not the case, Mahomes said.
“You understand this league. It’s always going to be hard,” Mahomes remarked. “I never will take that for granted. This league, there are a lot of special players on both sides of the field. You go back to your fundamentals. You go back to not making it, ‘Hey, we have to get a touchdown right now. We have to get a touchdown.’ It’s one play at a time. How can I execute this play? Move on to the next play and keep it going. That’s usually when the good stuff happens is you just can really focus on what you have to do to make that play work.”
Feature Image Caption: KANSAS CITY, MO – JANUARY 29: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) heads out of bounds in the last seconds of the AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 29th, 2023 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire)
Dennis has covered politics, crime, race, social justice, sports, and entertainment. His work as a reporter has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, AFRO, Los Angeles Sentinel, and Los Angeles Wave. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the editor and publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper.