Duckler: Mahomes is too darn good to lose

  • FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce during the second half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Kansas City, Mo. The Super Bowl matchup features the most accomplished quarterback ever to play the game who is still thriving at age 43 in Brady against the young gun who is rewriting record books at age 25. (AP... Jeff Roberson

  • FILE- In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) congratulates Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after their NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. The Super Bowl matchup features the most accomplished quarterback ever to play the game who is still thriving at age 43 in Brady against the young gun who is rewriting record books at age 25. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File) Jason Behnken

Monitor columnist
Published: 2/5/2021 12:17:32 PM

Check YouTube. Watch video highlights of Patrick Mahomes.

Watch the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback do stuff no one had ever seen before, until he entered the NFL four years ago, running and cutting and winning, throwing from impossible angles, using both arms.

The word invincible comes to mind, used for a cerebral, athletic and cool quarterback, and it’s the reason why the Chiefs are the easy pick against the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in Super Bowl LV.

The videos tell the story: Mahomes is too darn good.

In fact, he’s the best, and a win would give him two straight Super Bowl championships.

No one has repeated since the Tom Brady-led Patriots won Super Bowl titles in 2004 and ’05. In recent years, after winning six Super Bowls overall, Brady’s  bionic-man narrative has made bigshot media outlets look foolish, after they mocked him for believing he could play until he was 45 and continue to be great.

He won another Super Bowl at 41. He got the Patriots into the postseason at 42.

And now, at 43, he’s back in the big game for the 10tht time, still throwing touchdown passes, short and long, as good as anyone in the league, still clicking on pressure-packed third- and fourth-down plays.

I’m sure my colleague and friend Tim O’Sullivan is covering those bases in his column, and there are a lot of valid points to work with as to why Brady could win No. 7.

In fact, most reasonable NFL fans would still take Brady over most others in a big game. He continues to have the edge over the young colts who kick up their heels these days and throw on the run, like Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson.

And he’s still better than the old guard, the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, some of whom have retired recently, while others are fading, like Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.

At 43, when knees ache and minds are exhausted, Brady, somehow, has kept sharp, mentally and physically, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t win Sunday’s game.

Except for one.

I had seen Mahomes play in lots of live games since he broke into the NFL in 2017, yet he still made me focus hard while watching clips of Mahomes’s Houdini-like act online. He still made my eyes widen.

And he showed why he’s still the No. 1 player in the NFL, in his value to a team, his marketability and his easy nature in front of a camera.

Brady once held that scepter, that symbol, that ambassadorship. And he remains close by, even during his senior years. Mahomes, though, has a tight grip on it now.

Brady remains the Greatest of All Time, or GOAT, an acronym used a lot around here, and a label he earned long before he threw 40 touchdown passes this season and earned another shot at a Super Bowl title.

None of that matters, though. Not when you’re this fast, this elusive and this type of leader, quiet and efficient, a player who exudes confidence and fire without raising his voice.

Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell already knew that Mahomes was great when he joined the Bucs a few months ago. Then he practiced with him.

Then he said this to the Washington Post: “It really hit me, like, oh, he might be the greatest player ever. It’s the way he practices, the way he goes about his business. I wish y’all could see the throws he does in practice. I thought he was a 10 before I came here. And now he’s probably like a 12.”

His career stats and those from this season are on par with Brady’s numbers. So is Mahomes’s record as a staring quarterback, 38 wins, 8 losses thus far in his four-year career.

But numbers are pushed aside in the case of a player like Mahomes. He needs to be seen to be appreciated, sort of like the way it was for Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers, who zigzagged his way past defenders in countless black-and-white film clips from the 1960s.

Same thing with Mahomes. He runs effortlessly, head up, ready to fire or run, making people miss, making them look slow. Or at least slower than him.

He rolls right and then breaks an unwritten rule, throwing across his body to a receiver downfield, back over on the left side. Or he rolls right, rolls right, rolls right and then, just before reaching the sideline, uncorks a dart to a receiver who on the live shot never looks as though his feet had stayed in bounds.

The replay almost always shows that they had. Pass complete. First down.

Keep watching. Mahomes gives a head fake to a linebacker, freeing him to run down the sideline. He scrambles left, switches hands and throws a pass with his left arm like a shot putter at a track meet.

He throws sidearm passes when someone’s in his face, and he throws to receivers whom he’s not looking at. His over-the-middle passes have plenty of zip, and he can throw the ball a mile.

He showed grit in last year’s Super Bowl, wiping out a 10-point lead by the 49ers and leading the charge in the Chiefs’ 31-20 comeback. Mahomes had a subpar performance, but struck like lightning when the Bucs needed him most.

He’ll play better on Sunday. Better than he did last year. He’s a year older, a year wiser, a year better.

Those clips, all from this season, tell you all you need to know. Mahones is an unstoppable force, like a cyclone or an earthquake.

Chief, 38-24.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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