The season’s leader in passing yards has known both possible outcomes for the game. In his second year as a starter, Mahomes was named MVP of Super Bowl LIV as the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers. A year later, the offense failed to find the end zone as a hobbled Mahomes was under pressure almost every play as the Chiefs fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Speaking to NFL Network’s Michael Irvin from the Super Bowl’s “Opening Night” on Monday, Mahomes left no doubt about which experience taught him more.
“The loss for sure. The win is amazing — it’s one of the best moments of your entire life, and you take away all the positives from that. But that loss — that stings. That motivates you for years. That’s what it’s done for me. It’s motivated me to be back in this game again — and I want to make sure I can have that winning feeling and not that losing feeling. Because that losing feeling is one you’ll never forget.”
The Chiefs are coming off of an AFC Championship victory over the Cincinnati Bengals — in which the opponent engaged heavily in trash talk leading to the game. After the game, the Chiefs made it clear that they were aware of the Bengals’ antics.
For Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles, the two teams have shown each other respect at every opportunity. But the cordial nature of the contest should not be interpreted as less motivating to the Chiefs, as Mahomes explained to the Hall of Fame receiver.
“The motivating factor is to be the best. You’re in the biggest game of your life — and you want to go out there and make memories with your teammates. I think the biggest motivating factor is to step on that field and try to be the best. We know we’ve got a great challenge in the Philadelphia Eagles. So it’ll be a great game.”
Now in his sixth season, Mahomes knows how critical such memories with teammates can be due to constant roster turnover. He revealed his message for a very young Chiefs’ roster.
I’ll tell these guys that every team’s different. Everybody sees us being in the Super Bowl three out of four years. There’s only 12 dudes that won the Super Bowl with us in Miami that are still on this team. So you never know if you’re going to have this opportunity again. When you look back, you want to say that, ‘I have no regrets for the way I played.’ I think our guys are ready to do that.
In the wake of seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady’s retirement, Mahomes has the opportunity to be the league’s only active starting quarterback with multiple championships. While much of the narrative this week is what a second ring can do for his legacy, Mahomes appeared more concerned with lifting those around him.
“I don’t feel the pressure — I feel the pressure of proving my teammates right every day. Being the man that I try to be the example to be. That’s coming to work and giving everything I have. If I do that the rest of this week and into the game, I believe that we’ll come out with a win. And if we don’t, I’ll know that I gave everything I had to come out with a win — and that’s what I can always live with.”
Of course, there is legitimate concern about whether the reigning first-team All-Pro quarterback can give everything he has. Mahomes spent the second quarter of Kansas City’s Divisional Round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the locker room and on the sideline, having an ankle injury treated.
Since being diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain, Mahomes has been a full participant in all Chiefs’ practices. Though noticeably hobbled at times, he threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals.
He addressed the injury briefly to Irvin, leaving little reason for concern.
“It’s great. It’s doing good.”