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Inside ‘The Throw,’ and why it meant so damn much to Kansas City

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Patrick Mahomes 69-yard preseason touchdown pass means more to Kansas City than it would to other cities, and I get it.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface level, Friday night’s 69-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes is meaningless. It was a score in a preseason game, that, if all goes right, won’t be remembered.

But something tells me it will. Because for the first time in a long time, it’s beginning to look more and more that Mahomes could be a national star, a generational talent at arguably the most important position in all of sports.

And at least when it comes to the professional ranks (sup, Lubbock, Texas), he belongs to Kansas City and only Kansas City.

One throw changed the night for thousands of Kansas Citians Friday night. And here’s the thing—I get it.

“You just don’t expect to see that in a game,” right tackle Mitch Schwartz said. “You can see it in practice, where a guy can run five yards, crow hop and chuck it. In an in-game situation, it’s more of a 40-yard throw that’s a laser. That’s more of how you can tell a guy’s arm strength. You don’t usually get to see a guy fully uncork it in a game situation.”

Up until the time of The Throw on Friday night, Mahomes was in the midst of his second ordinary performance in as many preseason games. He had a compiled a stat line of 7 for 11 and 69 yards and thrown an interception that showcased his youth far more than his rare talent.

“You can’t force the deep ball,” Mahomes said.

On the play, Mahomes didn’t seem to see Falcons safety Damontae Kazee, who came across the field to pick it off.

“I probably had an easier check down that I could’ve thrown to,” he added. “I hadn’t thrown the ball deep the whole game and I had it in my mindset that I was going to throw the ball deep. You can’t do that in this league. There are too many good players. For me, I just had to make sure I bring myself back in and go through the process because deep balls come throughout the whole game.”

He’d be right.

At the time of the interception, there were less than five minutes in the second quarter in a game in which Andy Reid and said Mahomes was only going to get two quarters.

And so it was. This week’s Chiefs narrative of panic was set.

But after a defensive stop. Mahomes did something Reid had only seen from the greatest QBs he has coached in his 20-year tenure.

“I’ve been around some strong-armed guys,” Reid said. “Donovan (McNabb), (Brett) Favre and (Michael) Vick. I don’t know if I’ve seen—I mean it’s been a couple years since that’s happened. I’m—I don’t know on record. I’ve seen them throw the ball that far. I don’t know if it was in a game.”

Because it’s 2018 and we have fancy things now like NFL Research, we can say that it probably wasn’t.

Mahomes’ Throw from Friday night traveled 68.6 yards in the air. In all of 2017, the next closest pass was 61.8 yards.

And according to The Athletic Seattle’s Ben Baldwin, there is only one quarterback since 2009 who has completed a pass thrown 63 yards in the air.

His name is Aaron Rodgers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever thrown one that far in a game,” Mahomes explained.

Watching Mahomes’ body language, you could tell that he was frustrated about how the night had gone. And after a preseason spent talking about how important it was to score touchdowns and time ticking away on his second opportunity, he finally realized this was his only shot, his last shot until next Saturday—air the ball out to Tyreek Hill, the fastest player in the league.

“I don’t know many people that would be able to catch that ball going that far in a game,” Mahomes added. “I told him if I had thrown a spiral he wouldn’t have been able to get to it. He disagreed with that.”

Earlier this training camp, Hill said that he believed he and Mahomes finding each other was meant to be. On Friday night, it sure seemed like it.

Mahomes got his preseason score, and Kansas City got something to talk about.

“You always feel better every time you throw a touchdown,” Mahomes said. “Just being able to use the speed that we have on the field is always a good feeling. It’s something you just have to keep learning. It comes within the game.

“You can’t force it. For me, just to finally break through on a deep ball was a good feeling.”

The people of Kansas City shared that feeling with Mahomes.

The deep ball got them out of their seats, but it was the 35 years of waiting to see something like it that will make them remember it forever.