We may never be able to properly contextualize what we experienced watching Patrick Mahomes in his first season as an NFL starter.
He threw 10 touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. He broke the team’s single-season touchdown record in the 10th week of the season. He’s one of three players to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season. He rightly won the league’s Most Valuable Player award. He led his team to the AFC Championship Game. He did...whatever this is:
It's a good feeling to know my quarterback is too busy grinding tape to attend touchdown dance practice. https://t.co/oC0NbGsoQ2— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 22, 2018
There are so many highlights from this season, you might have forgotten some of them already. Don’t feel bad, the truth is Mahomes was just that good. We’re here to help commemorate them.
Welcome to Mahomes Madness!
We’re going to pick the best play of Mahomes’ incredible MVP season in his first year as the starting quarterback of your Kansas City Chiefs. The kid is only 23 but rewarded a fan base starved for a quarterback to call their own by making up lost time with remarkable performances.
Somehow a play like this didn’t make the final 32 (!!!):
Lord have mercy. Moves away from backside pressure on the snap, steps up from front side pressure and delivers this ball with unreal touch. There's more to this throw we'll be talking about on Wednesday in the article. Rare, rare throw. pic.twitter.com/uhYYbFYPCn— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 8, 2018
Mitchell Trubisky wishes this was his best play of the year.
First, let’s reveal the bracket...
Voting begins on Monday, March 4, with the Jorts and the “Did You Know He Played Baseball?” regions. We will have visual breakdowns of each play.
To the regions we go...
1 vs 8: “4th and 9” vs. “TD #1”
- These are two iconic moments in and of themselves. The favorite to win this region was a do-or-die fourth down to help the Chiefs come back and beat the Ravens.
- The first touchdown pass of Patrick Mahomes’ career was a beautiful RPO slant to Tyreek Hill as he’s getting hit that launched his MVP season.
4 vs 5: “At The Last Moment” vs. “Frontline Fastball”
- “At The Last Moment” happened in a primetime game against the Chargers at home. Patrick Mahomes patiently scrambled to his right with his team in the red zone, and as he was running out of real estate on the sideline finds Demarcus Robinson working toward him in the end zone.
- Mahomes delivered a front-line fastball to Demetrius Harris in what we thought was the last game the Chiefs had a chance to beat Oakland in their own home. Low placement in a tight window while he’s rolling right. Great play.
3 vs 6: “Sidearm to Ware” vs. “Bailing ‘Em Out”
- Mahomes’ follow-up to his no-look pass (more on that later) was an excellent sidearm throw down the sideline to Spencer Ware with a little over a minute left in the second quarter. The Chiefs would finish the drive with a critical score that helped them come back to win.
- A trend that you’ll see throughout this bracket is Mahomes doing ridiculous things on third down. In Denver, Mahomes bailed his team out yet again with a strike in the middle of the field to Hill.
2 vs 7: “How Did That Get There?” vs. “Trust Throw”
- With anticipation, Mahomes threw a ball sidearm around lineman Andrew Wylie, beyond the outstretched hands of defensive rookie of the year Darius Leonard and into the hands of Travis Kelce.
- Andy Reid called Kelce’s second touchdown “phenomenal trust,” and he was right. Mahomes put the ball up where only Kelce could catch it.
“Did You Know He Played Baseball?” Region
1 vs 8: “The Scramble” vs. “Red Zone Conversion”
- Mahomes’ first touchdown in Arrowhead Stadium was quite the reward for a fan base starved for a franchise quarterback. He rolled left, rolled right and found Chris Conley in a tight window in the back of the end zone. It’s art.
- Against the Chargers at home, Mahomes had a similar looking play that converted a big third down in the first quarter of the game.
4 vs 5: “3rd and 2 to Watkins” vs. “Record Breaker”
- Rolling to his left, with a guy at his ankle in the AFC championship game, Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins for a big conversion in the second quarter. It was an excellent play in the biggest game of the season.
- Mahomes broke Len Dawson’s record with an anticipation throw to Hill in a tight window with multiple defenders around him. The ball had to be there when it did or it would’ve been intercepted.
3 vs 6: “The Response” vs. “Sidearm Slant”
- A Patriot-on-Patriot crime here. Mahomes started the comeback in Foxboro with a touchdown, rolling to his right, down the sideline on third-and-2 early in the third quarter.
- Late in the third quarter of the AFC championship game, Mahomes delivered an athletic, sidearm throw like he was a second baseman turning a double play around a defender on a third-and-2.
2 vs. 7: “No Look” vs. “Tie Game in Foxboro”
- How did the no-look pass not get a one seed? Mahomes’ season was THAT good. This play broke the internet and could ultimately breakthrough to the final four.
- With a little over three minutes to play in the game, the Chiefs score too fast with a big play to Tyreek Hill off play action. It was a big moment for the kid to go toe to toe on the road against Tom Brady, but...Bob Sutton.
1 vs 8: “Lefty” vs. “Late Half TD”
- The left-handed throw was a huge moment in the creation of Mahomes’ legacy in his run to the MVP award. On Monday Night Football, with current Cowboys tight end Jason Witten calling the game, Mahomes made one of his most creative and clutch third-down conversions of his season.
- Late in the barn-burner against the Rams, Mahomes made an athletic throw with 15 seconds left in the first half to put a critical six points on the board.
4 vs 5: “Out of Bounds” vs. “Bomb to Ty”
- On the road in a loss to Seattle, Mahomes made the game interesting rolling to his right and throwing a touchdown pass that was (literally) placed out of bounds, where only Robinson could catch it.
- The long bomb to Hill in the Rams game was one of the longest air-yard throws of Mahomes’ season on national television.
3 vs 6: “Back Into the Field” vs. “Fireball”
- Yet another nationally televised play in Denver, where Mahomes rolled left and threw the ball back into the middle of the field to Kelce for a big third-and-11 conversion.
- In week 2 against the Steelers, Mahomes put a fireball to the back shoulder of Kelce on the front line of the end zone for six. Kelce had three closing defenders and Mahomes split the space he had to work.
2 vs 7: “Starting the Comeback” vs. “Tying Len”
- The first score of the AFC championship game for the Chiefs came about because Mahomes found Watkins for a big play down the field on third-and-2. On the run, Mahomes went over the entire defense and hit the Lizard King for a huge gain.
- Mahomes tied the great Len Dawson’s single-season touchdown pass record early in the game against the Cardinals with an up-and-down ball in the middle of the field to Hill.
1 vs 8: “The Last Big Play” vs. “2nd and 30”
- I have tried to avoid watching the Chiefs’ final game of the year, but one of the best plays of Mahomes’ season was also one of his last. With 32 seconds remaining in the season and the Chiefs trailing by three, Mahomes rolled to his right and found Ware streaking down the sideline that put them into Patriots territory and led to a field goal to tie the game.
- The Chiefs faced a second-and-30 on Monday Night Football in Denver, but Mahomes turned it into a third-and-manageable with a great throw on the run to Conley.
4 vs 5: “You Can’t Defend That” vs. “Giving Kelce a Chance”
- In the AFC divisional round, Mahomes rolled to his right and hit Kelce in the middle of the field to convert a third-and-6 in the first quarter of his first playoff game.
- Mahomes found Kelce on a third-and-10 in Oakland with a rocket to Kelce on a broken play.
3 vs 6: “#50” vs. “Up and Down”
- The final regular season touchdown pass of the season was an explosive, broken play where Robinson elected to take the play deep and Mahomes hit him as he stepped up in the pocket to deliver the longest touchdown pass of his season.
- Mahomes connected with Kelce on a similar throw to the one that first wowed us in Week 17 of the 2017 season in Denver. Up and down, over the linebacker, in a tight window in the middle of the field.
2 vs 7: “The Shortstop” vs. “While He Was Getting Hit”
- Charcandrick West came back to the team late in the season and Mahomes rewarded him with a prime time touchdown that he somehow got to him with an athletic throw while rolling to his left.
- While Mahomes was getting hit he was able to get a ball to Kelce in a tight window with anticipation and touch. He was falling back, with a defender in his face but was still able to get the ball there.