13 seconds is not a lot of time in the lifespan of beings that experience, on average, about 2.3 billion of them. It’s not enough time to brush your teeth, or dress yourself, or use the restroom, or complete any number of basic tasks. But as it turns out, 13 seconds is more than enough time for Patrick Mahomes II to casually suck the soul remnants out of one of the most desperate NFL fanbases, and in the process complete the preordained, ultimate transformation into the merciless automaton of death he is now confirmed to be. Showtime Mahomes was an exciting new face that took the football world by storm with a revolutionarily high-octane, fun style of playing the game. Little did the general public know, all the while Brett Veach and Andy Reid had been programming Reaper Mahomes, cold-blooded destroyer of worlds, to take Showtime’s place on Sunday. For 31 franchises and fanbases, competing against him is suddenly no longer a challenging novelty, but instead a sobering affirmation of the futility of trying to conquer death. Because Mahomes competing for Lamar Hunt trophies year-in, year-out is just as inevitable.
How must the collective psyche of Buffalo be doing this week? They finally had reason for genuine hope, as their blue-chip quarterback came into his own this season, torching much of the league not only with his cannon arm but with his incredibly prolific, timely rushing abilities. The Bills engineered their team to compete with the Chiefs over the last couple years, as their number one ranked defense featured a deep, run-stopping line and two All-Pro selections at safety in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. The motivation was there, after losing the AFC Title Game at Arrowhead last season. The coaching staff had this team primed to take the next step, and many prominent analysts (as well as the betting public) thought this was their time. And they had done it! That game was dead as a doornail after Josh Allen hit Gabe Davis with a 19-yard TD strike over the middle with 13 ticks remaining. Chiefs fans started leaving the stadium. The Bills sideline was delirious. Bills Mafia was rocking out. Everything they worked the last year for was finally coming to fruition.
All that was left was the squib kick, quick passing play to pick up a little yardage, then Hail Mary or "band is on the field" lateral-heavy effort that someone ends up fumbling as time runs out, and the Bills fly home happy. But the cool countenance of Reaper Mahomes was not to be denied. Tyler Bass, or the coaching staff, elected to kick the ball out of the end zone, when keeping it in play likely would have bled at least four seconds from the clock. Instead, the Chiefs were able to unleash a couple quick pitch and catch plays to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce that gained 44 yards on two downs, as the Bills defense left swaths of green grass open within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. Buffalo coordinators were apparently either unaware they were not leading by more than a field goal, unaware that Kansas City could still use timeouts, or simply too convinced the game was over to bother defending Pat’s favorite targets. As it turns out, ten seconds was all that Mahomes needed [Mike McCarthy furiously scribbles notes]; he saved the last three for Butker. Overtime was a fait accompli as soon as the coin hit the worn Arrowhead grass. That last sequence of the fourth quarter was abject football malpractice from the Bills special teams and defense. They should absolutely be crushed for the way they "defended", and I’m not sure how a team ever gets over a loss like that, with an AFC Title Game at Orchard Park for the first time since 1994 essentially in hand. The game tape of that last possession will serve as first week training camp teaching material for coaches trying to hammer home to their teams how to (not) close out an important game. At least the Bills can eventually regroup and lean on the fact that they will have Josh Allen around for a long time, and they still have an incredibly talented, young defense. The only problem is Pat Mahomes is just a year older than Allen, is not switching conferences any time soon, and does not care who is in his way.
Enough about Buffalo. We can only hope beer and wing sauce will keep the pain in check for a while. The Chiefs deserve a ton of credit for playing close to a flawless game, kicking excluded. (And I’m not here to bash Butker; he’s been great when it really counts.) As it turns out, any amount of time is too much time for Reaper Mahomes. You literally have to bleed every last second off the clock, or you will not survive and advance. You’re damned one way or another.
After ruthlessly dispatching the Bills, Patrick Lavon Mahomes has now qualified for the AFC Championship Game all four years he has been a starter (he didn’t start his rookie season). Only 13 quarterbacks have more title game appearances, and he is now one shy of the career total of 5 for Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Manning, McNabb, Favre, Kelly, and Stabler. With a win on Sunday, he would secure his third straight AFC Title and move into a tie for tenth (with Roethlisberger, Warner, Aikman, Kubiak, Tarkenton, and Griese) in career Super Bowl appearances as a quarterback. Only three times has a franchise played in three straight Super Bowls: Dolphins (1971-73 seasons), Bills (1990-93), and Patriots (2016-18). The Chiefs would join this list with a win. Mahomes would also move into a tie for 15th in playoff wins with 9 (alongside Wilson, Brees, McNabb, Warner, Reich, Kelly, Starr), and would be over halfway to Montana’s 16 (second all-time) and a quarter of the way to Brady’s ridiculous 35 postseason victories. He is 26 years old.
What an electric, memorable sporting event. Life event, really. One to be savored. Two young gunslingers laying it all out there. There are so many ridiculous stats that could be thrown out from that contest (The Reapening? Not sure that sticks, but this game needs a name). I’ll leave you with three gems: that game was the only playoff game in history in which both QBs threw for 300+ passing yards, 3 TDs, and zero interceptions. That game featured the second-highest point total in the last two minutes of regulation of any game in the Super Bowl era (regular season or postseason). And Josh Allen was 9-0 calling coin flips on the season prior to Sunday. The Bills threw everything they could at the Chiefs, and even kept Pat Mahomes somewhat in check, at least until the two minute warning hit and all hell broke loose. But there’s really no way to hold him down, unless you give him turf toe again. He has evolved to the point where he efficiently finds the point of least resistance, like water through cracks in a dam, and then continuously exploits whatever crack you give him until the dam of resistance just doesn’t have the ability to hold up any longer. Sit back and blanket receivers and Mahomes will be as patient as he has to be; he orchestrated steady 13, 14, and 15 play scoring drives through the first 2.5 quarters. The opening Chiefs drive featured two Mahomes scrambles on 3rd and medium that led to a 34-yard gasher down the middle of the field, and an 8-yard touchdown run. The second Chiefs touchdown featured an absolutely absurd fake-left, spin-around-right and loft up a perfect pass for Byron Pringle to go up and get maneuver after retreating back to the 15 yard line on 3rd and goal from the 2. But press up on his targets and give him the slightest window and he won’t hesitate to kill you quickly, either (Tyreek Hill 64-yard cross and scamper).
Patrick Mahomes has officially advanced into the next phase of his superstar career: the dominant phase, the phase where everyone else goes from loving your sick sidearm throws to hating you because you’re too effing good and you win everything. He has acquired too much experience, and his skill set is too vast. He has crossed the Rubicon, and there is no turning back. May the gods have mercy on any mortals that attempt to stand in his way. The Reaper cometh.