The stage is clearly where Patrick Mahomes wants to be: On the New England Patriots’ home turf, where he was born and has spent the majority of his childhood. It’s where he wanted to be in the first place, after all, when he returned home from playing at Texas Tech to attend Memorial Day basketball games in Kyle Field. And it’s where the arm — one of the most powerful in the NFL — that made him so hot at the end of the regular season finally had been fully adjusted to over the course of a three-month playoff run.
Brock Osweiler, who has just two career playoff starts under his belt, who wanted to be a backup — instead, his former coach Adam Gase actually forced him into the Dolphins’ starting role and got fired in December for what he considered to be lackluster play — should have been the beneficiary of Sunday’s inauspicious start to the Kansas City Chiefs’ first Super Bowl appearance since the 1970 season. He put up a decent third-quarter drive, leading the Patriots to a pair of short field goals. But the Patriots’ offense was in a relatively sedate rhythm by comparison to its usual production and something seemed amiss.
But the trio of goals-line looks in the second half pushed the Chiefs, which were ahead, 24-20, to a 27-20 halftime lead — a lead that grew further when Antonio Brown’s 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter made it 30-20, and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes accounted for all three, a 2-yard fade to Sammy Watkins, an end zone bomb to Demarcus Robinson, and a trick play in which he threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill. The second Kansas City touchdown with 4:35 remaining was Mahomes’ third of the game, and Smith’s fourth interception of the afternoon.
Let the Twitter storms begin. Tom Brady for the fourth time in 16 years now trails a rookie NFL quarterback by a whopping 23 1/2 points in the Super Bowl. Mahomes has three touchdowns in the third quarter of a Super Bowl, which is now a first — and Brown, a sure-fire Hall of Famer who has just 46 catches and two scores during the regular season, also has two picks through three quarters.
Will Mahomes’ hat trick be enough to counter Brady’s attempt at something special to win a sixth title and complete his late-career comeback from four knee surgeries? Only one way to find out. We may never know. The Chiefs have gained control of the Super Bowl through game-winning drives late in each half, but thanks to a network of pocket knives in Kansas City, those weapons almost always seem to get stuck in neutral during the second halves of their games.
But Mahomes still should be able to outsmart the legendary 39-year-old Brady on his own turf.
And hey, maybe Mahomes, his game and his rookie season will be enough to convince another former Patriots quarterback who could do the same thing in Brady to pack his bags this offseason and head to Kansas City.