It was a display of jaw-dropping athleticism. It was a reminder of why he is so easy to like. And it was an impressive, even defiant statement from Patrick Mahomes.
Brought to San Diego in a trade last week, Mahomes has created a stir, as few QBs do, with his decorated high school career and sometimes surly demeanor. But he charmed this Chargers crowd Saturday with his demeanor and athleticism.
Making his third NFL start and third appearance in the playoffs, Mahomes had his left shoulder sprain popped by a Chargers defensive lineman and sidestepped a tackle from safety Derwin James on a 30-yard run.
"I felt like he showed an uncommon grit when he really needed it," said head coach Anthony Lynn. "I always knew what he was capable of, but tonight was a cool moment to see him."
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Mahomes, who played in two games in November with no TDs, had thrown for just four TDs in his two other starts, but that was when he was healthy.
The Chiefs scored on each of their first five drives, moving 74 yards on six plays to drive inside the 1 on their opening drive. He hit four of his first five passes for 54 yards, and when a Ray Rice 25-yard reception changed field position, Mahomes gave KC possession at the 18 on a 4th-and-7 play.
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After three runs, the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-9 on the 25 when someone called the wrong count to relieve quarterback Alex Smith on the sideline. Smith continued to monitor the game from the booth, while Mahomes, first-year starter for 1-15 Chiefs, ran headlong into the defensive end blocker as he reached for Smith. Mahomes spun the defender to the ground before using his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame to land a sweep to the right.
Mahomes finished 19 of 29 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, running for 52 yards and catching five passes for 36 yards. And when it was over, he told the world what was on his mind.
"I think you guys already know what I'm thinking: 'I told you so,'" he said.
He just hadn't been so sure.