Patrick Mahomes Did Another Funny Little Pass
8:58 AM EDT on October 3, 2022
If revenge can be exacted more than a year after the offending incident, and in Week 4 of the regular season, then I guess Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs got some of it on Sunday night. They traveled to Tampa, the site of their 31-9 Super Bowl defeat at the hands of Tom Brady and the Bucs in 2021, to once again face down Tampa's undying quarterback and brutish defense. Things went much better for Kansas City this time: a 41-31 victory in which they led by at least two scores for almost the entire game, and a performance from Mahomes that was steady throughout and electrifying in spurts.
You'll recall that it was the Chiefs' depleted offensive line that made such a big difference in that Super Bowl meeting. The best way to short-circuit a beautiful and flowing NFL offense is to pressure the quarterback early and often, and the Bucs' front seven spent an entire Super Bowl proving that old adage. The Chiefs have a rebuilt line now, though, one that's had a whole season to gel, and that group pushed the Bucs around on Sunday night. Mahomes was sacked three times, but spent most of the game in comfort. When he wanted to sit in the pocket and survey the field, he had time to do so; when he wanted to influence the secondary by moving around a bit, he had clean edges to run toward. The offensive line did its job in the running game, too, clearing the way for Chiefs backs to gain 189 rushing yards.
Pockets don't stay clean forever, though, and that's where Mahomes's uniquely improvisational game comes into play. Trying to make a goal-line stand in the second quarter, the Bucs finally got a free rusher into the backfield, seemingly blowing up whatever play the Chiefs were hoping to run. They succeeded in doing that, but a blown-up play just leaves room for Mahomes to do stuff like this:
We're six seasons into Mahomes's NFL career, and at this point nobody could be blamed if they are a little bit tired of hearing bells ring out across the land every time he throws a sidearm pass. But that's what makes a moment like this play all the sweeter. It's a reminder that Mahomes's reputation as one of the most creative passers in league history is well-earned, and that even after experimenting with every possible arm angle, he can still find ways to surprise. A quarterback outrunning a defensive end to the sideline? Sure, we've all seen that before. Spinning out of a Devin White tackle? Hmm, OK, not many guys can do that. Just, like, dumping the ball into the back corner of the end zone as if you are attempting the world's worst jump shot? Hilarious. I was chortling on my couch.
"I was gonna run for it, but they kind of flew around me," Mahomes told reporters after the game. "I realized I wasn't going to make it and I saw Clyde, so I kind of flicked it up to him."
Not the most revelatory explanation, but then again what is there to really say about a play like that? Part of what makes Mahomes's freestyle quarterbacking so satisfying is its unvarnished simplicity. Playing quarterback is one of the most complicated and difficult tasks in all of sports, and nobody does it at a higher level than Mahomes. But what sets him apart from his peers is his willingness to embrace the fact that sometimes, in certain moments, it's all actually quite simple. Sometimes there are guys flying around you, and then you see another guy out of the corner of your eye, and so you flick the ball to him. Touchdown. That's all there is to it.