By Owen Russell
The Kansas City Chiefs took on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 57 last Sunday night. The game was a roller coaster of a contest, resulting in a last second lead change. Kansas City kicked what would become the game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining to win 38-35. Patrick Mahomes earned his second Super Bowl MVP, and cemented himself as the sport’s best quarterback.
Sunday’s game felt like a fitting final bow for an outrageous NFL season. Iconic quarterbacks from the past decade took a step back this year. Tom Brady retired. Aaron Rodgers failed to lead Green Bay to the playoffs. Russell Wilson was embarrassed in his first year as a Bronco. Many analysts and fans agree that this year marked a changing of the guard for the NFL. With that said, Super Bowl 57 served as Patrick Mahomes’ coronation as the league’s new despot. Having two MVP trophies, two Super Bowls, and two All-Pro selections in five years as a starter, Mahomes reigns undisputed as the NFL’s fresh new face.
Heading into the NFL season, there was conjecture over which young quarterback would rise above the rest and win the Super Bowl. The decline of NFL stalwarts Brady and Rodgers created a power vacuum, with plenty of worthy contenders. Josh Allen helmed a Buffalo team that entered the season as the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl. Joe Burrow of Cincinnati was coming off his first trip to the Super Bowl in 2022, and hungry for redemption. In line behind them remained a collection of hungry young talent chomping at the chance to show the world they have what it takes. As the debate raged on, perhaps the most obvious answer went overlooked.
Kansas City’s franchise quarterback entered this season teetering on the cusp of legend status. In four years he had been to the Super Bowl twice, winning once against San Francisco and losing against Tampa Bay. He claimed MVP honors in his first full year as a starter in 2018. He sat at, or near, the top of the league in every statistical category. Mahomes was threatening to join the likes of Montana, Manning, and Brady.
To prove his supremacy, Mahomes put together the best season of his career. He led the league in yards, touchdowns, and quarterback rating. The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West for the seventh straight year and earned first place in the conference with a 14-3 record. Mahomes compiled his second MVP season all without the help of Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs traded Hill back in March of last year. It could be argued that Hill was Mahomes’ most explosive weapon. This year without Mahomes, Hill was second in receiving yards, second in receptions, and third in first downs. Losing a weapon like Hill could have sunk a lesser quarterback, but Mahomes adapted.
He shared the wealth, spreading the ball out to seemingly everyone. Mahomes’ distribution was on display in this year’s Super Bowl. Seven different Kansas City players caught a Patrick Mahomes pass. Each of Mahomes’ touchdowns was to three separate receivers (Travis Kelce, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney). Some credit should be reserved for Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for involving everyone, but Mahomes recognizes the reads and catches the defense off guard by sending the ball to an unexpected receiver. Like when Mahomes found former New York Giant Kadarius Toney on a five-yard touchdown which made Philadelphia look foolish. Mahomes sent his receiver in motion, tricking the defense into following. Nobody assumed Toney would cut back, but he did, allowing him to waltz into the end zone.
Plays like those defined Mahomes’ MVP season and Super Bowl 57 victory. Despite being down 24-14 at halftime and having a nasty ankle injury that plagued him since the Divisional round, along with the noise of another heir-apparent waiting in the wings, Mahomes stood tall. He found the right man at the right time and played the best football of his stellar career.
In his postgame press conference, Mahomes came off as remarkably professional, maybe even underwhelmed. He praised his teammates and his coaches, humbly placing the spotlight unto others. He spoke with the poise of someone who has been there before, and someone who will be there again. As he said towards the end of the press conference, “We feel like the work’s not finished.”