FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the second time in five weeks, the New England Patriots find themselves preparing to face a once-in-a-generation talent.
Patrick Mahomes, a man who has won one entire playoff game since taking over as the Chiefs’ starter last season, vaulted to the top of NFL history with 5,097 passing yards and a league-best 50 touchdowns in 2018. He held the mark as the most incredible player anyone had ever seen until early November.
That’s when Lamar Jackson, the most incredible player anyone has ever seen, put together a span of five otherworldly games in which he amassed a passer rating of 136.8 and ran for 401 yards. That stretch marked a permanent and sustainable evolution for Jackson, who quickly changed the game forever right after his previous five-game run had produced a passer rating of 75.2.
No one has ever seen anything like it.
But while Jackson has already led the Ravens to a presumptive victory in Super Bowl LIV, Mahomes still looms as the storied veteran who won a postseason game one time. No one has ever seen anything like it. We’re talking no-look passes to a wide open Travis Kelce in the end zone that sail 20 yards out of bounds. And don’t forget the time he threw a ball that wiggled past an overhead camera.
Sure, the camera was many yards behind Mahomes and the whole thing was an optical illusion, but it looked pretty sweet. Also, he threw a ball out of Arrowhead Stadium one time, and everyone knows that dropping a dime on the outer concourse to no one with no one defending you is both vital and significant.
The Patriots have only beaten Mahomes twice in the entire 59-year history of the franchise, and only one of those wins came in the regular season. The other Patriots win will for the remainder of history bear an asterisk because it was played in accordance with the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League. Those rules allow a team, even the New England Patriots, to win a game in overtime by scoring a touchdown on their first possession. This left Mahomes standing on the sideline in last year’s AFC Championship game, which is very unfair, believe me, everyone says so.
Since the NFL instituted its current totally unfair overtime rules in 2011, the team that wins the coin toss is basically assured victory, as proven by the fact that those teams win 52.7 percent of the time. It’s an outrageous advantage, and the NFL should institute a more fair system like the college rules where the winner of the coin toss only wins 54.9 percent of the time.
If not for the NFL’s criminally biased overtime system, Mahomes would surely be the winner of one Super Bowl and on pace to win unlimited quantities of Super Bowls during his projected-to-be storied career. It is therefore safe to rank him above such luminaries as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana and Dan Marino, who have combined for fewer Super Bowl titles (13) than we can reasonably expect Mahomes to win.
The only player we can’t rank ahead of Mahomes is Jackson, who will surely remain the greatest football player of all time until 2020 when either Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow puts together an exceptional month.
We will never have seen anything like it.
(Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. He can be reached on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown)