Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game on January 28, 2024, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS – Patrick Mahomes’ playoff career now includes the equivalent of a 17-game season played only against the competition’s best.
The numbers Mahomes put up in those games would be staggering even if they were produced in the regular season.
Mahomes has 5,260 combined passing and rushing yards in those games, has accounted for 44 touchdowns through the air and on the ground and has helped the Chiefs win 14 of 17 games.
The only players other than Mahomes to reach those numbers in an entire regular season are Tom Brady (2021), Peyton Manning (2013) and Drew Brees (2011).
Mahomes’ 309.4 rushing and passing yards per game in the postseason are less than 7 yards behind his regular-season mark and more than 15 yards better than anyone else’s regular-season career mark with Andrew Luck next with 293.7.
Mahomes’ 14 postseason wins before turning 29 are already tied for third-most by any quarterback, trailing only Joe Montana’s 16 and Tom Brady’s 35.
He can join Brady (six), Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three) as the only QBs to earn at least three Super Bowl starts.
With a big performance Sunday, Mahomes has a chance to catch all but Brady in total rushing yards and pass in his career in the playoffs. He currently ranks fifth with 44 and needs one to tie Brett Favre, three to match Montana and five to match Aaron Rodgers’ mark. Catching Brady’s 95 in his career will take much longer.
Mahomes’ 39 career TD passes in the postseason are the sixth most ever and more than 11 franchises have in their entire history.
As Mahomes makes his fourth Super Bowl start in the last five seasons, the NFC will once again have a new quarterback.
Brock Purdy will be the 10th quarterback to start a Super Bowl for an NFC team in the last 10 seasons, following Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Jalen Hurts.
There has been far less change over the past two decades in the AFC with QBs like Mahomes, Brady and Manning winning most of the starts.
Led by Brady’s nine starts for New England, there have only been 10 QBs to start the Super Bowl for the AFC in the last 27 seasons.
Purdy will also make the 49ers the first franchise ever to have five starting quarterbacks in a Super Bowl with Joe Montana having four, and Steve Young, Colin Kaepernick and Garoppolo one each.
Purdy will also be the third-youngest starting quarterback in a Super Bowl at 24 years, 46 days. Dan Marino was the youngest at 23 years, 127 days in Super Bowl 19 for Miami and Ben Roethlisberger was 23 years, 340 days for Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 40.
The Chiefs have relied heavily on their offense in the last two title runs, but the defense has carried a heavy load this season.
Kansas City has held the opposition to fewer than 28 points in all 20 regular-season or playoff games, with Green Bay scoring the most in a 27-19 win in Week 13.
Only five teams have ever won a Super Bowl allowing fewer than 28 points in each game, but none of those teams have played as many games as the Chiefs.
Tampa Bay did it all 19 games in 2002. The other four did it when the regular season was just 14 games and only three playoff games were needed: the Dolphins in 1972 and ’73, the 1969 Chiefs and the 1967 Packers.
THE TALE OF TWO HALFS
Kansas City’s offense looked close to its usual self in the first half of games this season, but has fallen off dramatically after halftime.
The Chiefs were the sixth-highest scoring team in first half games with 243 points, but scored just 128 in the second half, tied for third-fewest.
That was tied for the seventh-most drop since 1991, with the last time a team was dropped by more coming in 2014, when the Packers scored 134 fewer points and the 49ers scored 123 fewer in the second half of matches.
The Chiefs were held scoreless in the second half four times this season, making it three straight midway through the season and again in the AFC title game.
The Niners were much more consistent, leading the league in regular season scoring with 267 points in the first half and ranking third with 224 in the second half.
That changed in the postseason with San Francisco scoring just 14 points at halftime and 44 in the second of back-to-back comebacks.
The Chiefs’ penchant for starting fast has been evident in the playoffs. They have scored in the first inning of all three games to extend their postseason streak to eight straight with six hits and two field goals.
No other team since at least the 2000 season has scored first in more than four consecutive games.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The Chiefs will probably feel right at home at Allegiant Stadium as they have played — and won — here every season since the Raiders arrived in Las Vegas in 2020.
Kansas City is 4-0 in the stadium, and with a win Sunday, Mahomes and Andy Reid will have the most wins of any quarterback-coach duo in the stadium’s history.
That’s largely thanks to the Raiders going through four coaches in their four seasons in Las Vegas and changing quarterbacks this season.
The Raiders have triple-doubles with four wins at Allegiant Stadium with Derek Carr doing it with Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniels, and Aidan O’Connell doing it last season with Antonio Pierce.