Through the first five games of the 2018 NFL season, it was nothing but smooth sailing for Patrick Mahomes, the first-year starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mahomes had taken the league by storm, making incredible passes and dashing for incredible runs, throwing touchdown after touchdown, and leading the Chiefs to a 5-0 start. He’s the most exciting young quarterback we’ve seen in years, and Kansas City has proven that it made the best decision of any team in the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting him.
But on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, Mahomes finally got welcomed to the NFL the hard way — by getting handed his first ever defeat, 43-40, at the hands of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in what might be the most wildly entertaining Sunday Night Football game of the year. There couldn’t be a better way for a young player to get broken into the league.
Let’s be fair though; Mahomes still played an incredible game. He threw a pair of interceptions, but other than that, he continued to display the same abilities that have made him so captivating this season. He did everything he could to put the Chiefs in position to win the game, completing 23 of 36 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns as Kansas City put up 40 points. You can’t get much better than that.
But the Patriots were just a little bit better. Tom Brady, at age 41, even scored one of his rare and special rushing touchdowns. He also threw for 340 yards and a touchdown. New England’s rookie sensation Sony Michel picked up 106 yards on the ground, and Rob Gronkowski hauled in 97 receiving yards.
The Patriots looked like the Patriots, and they looked like the same team that always makes a run deep into January.
Even after Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown pass, tying the game up 40-40 in just 12 seconds with just over three minutes to go, Brady did his thing that we’ve seen so many times over the years. It was almost reminiscent of Super Bowl 36, back in January 2002, when Brady moved the Patriots down the field in the final minute to put them in position for a game-winning field goal.
As expected, Stephen Gostkowski drilled the football directly through the uprights as time expired, and that was it. The Patriots are now 4-2, while the Chiefs no longer have that goose egg in the loss column.
The 23-year-old Mahomes was officially welcomed into the NFL on Sunday night. He still played a great game, but for the first time in his NFL career, he experienced what it feels like to take a loss. Even more so, he experienced what it feels like to take a loss in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
There’s no need for Chiefs fans to worry. Mahomes and his team will be just fine. They might even go to the Super Bowl come February. But on Sunday night, despite yet another incredible offensive performance from this Kansas City team, the Patriots were just a little bit better.
Welcome to the league, kid.