While Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes playing on the same field lived up to the hype Sunday as arguably the two best quarterbacks matched up, a national sports columnist wrote that Brady sensed the torch passed to Mahomes a while ago.
Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel wrote that it really happened in the 2019 AFC Championship game, the first postseason meeting between Brady and Mahomes. Sunday’s result confirmed as much as Mahomes out-gunned Brady in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The game was hyped as a potential passing of the baton in the NFL, but whether Brady ever admits it, that was done in the postgame locker room when Brady wanted to make sure the kid got some heartfelt advice,” Wetzel wrote.
Brady and the New England Patriots barely got past the Chiefs, led by the 2018 NFL MVP Mahomes, that day. Brady hasn’t shied away from talking about how good he believes Mahomes is.
“He’s a terrific player, obviously, being league MVP a couple years ago, 50 touchdowns,” Brady said in a press conference last week according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s pretty hard to do. There’s not many guys who have done that. And then to continue that last year with the Super Bowl championship and playing at an extremely high level this year. He’s just getting more and more comfortable. So much about playing quarterback is having experience, learning from year to year, improving your routine and he’s just doing a tremendous job.”
Mahomes looked tremendous Sunday with 462 yards passing and three touchdowns, helping his team build 17-point leads twice. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill beat Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis on all three of his TD catches from Mahomes.
“Very few guys that I’ve ever seen in this league or any league can back peddle, eight to … 11 yards in the pocket and throw a dime 25 yards down the field,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in the postgame press conference. “He has an unbelievable skillset.”
Brady started slow but didn’t back down as he finished with 345 yards and three TDs but two interceptions. He found star wide receiver Mike Evans twice in the fourth quarter on TDs of 31 and four yards, which trimmed the Chiefs’ lead to three points late.
Brady and Mahomes may never meet on the field again unless both teams meet in the Super Bowl this season or next.
Shaq Attack 2.0
The Chiefs nearly made it 24-0 in the second quarter, but Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett turned the tide with a forced fumble deep in Bucs territory. Defensive end Will Gholston recovered the fumble.
Brady then led the Bucs’ first scoring drive of the game, capped a 37-yard play-action TD strike to Ronald Jones III, after opening with four punts. The Bucs trailed 20-7 at the half instead of 24-0 or worse.
Barrett finished the game with a sack, three tackles, and a couple of hits on Mahomes.
Band Back Together
Offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet returned to action on the Bucs Sunday.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud confirmed both returning before the game, giving the Bucs all of its O-line starters back for the first time in four games. Marpet had been out with a concussion, and Smith had an ankle injury against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11. Center A.Q. Shipley filled in on the line the past two weeks with Marpet out before sustaining a career-ending injury.
Smith and Marpet back on the line helped the Bucs get some life back in the running game with 75 yards on 13 attempts after 42 yards on 18 carries the week before.