The Kansas City Chiefs utterly collapsed on the biggest stage of football, blowing their chance at a repeat Super Bowl title as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team to win a ring in their home city. One could name any number of reasons that led to this outcome-- Brady stepping up on the biggest stage once more, a perfect gameplan by Bucs DC Todd Bowles, the opposite of a perfect gameplan from Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy, several crucial drops by the best Chiefs pass-catchers -- and it would be difficult to be wrong.
Most notably, superstar Patrick Mahomes looked... worse than mortal for the first time in a long time. The aforementioned drops and poor gameplan combined with a ferocious Tampa Bay pass rush did not make for an easy path to success, but when Mahomes wasn't running for his life in the pocket, he simply did not deliver. He was dealing with a foot issue that will reportedly require surgery this offseason, and that may have affected the former MVP more than anyone thought. Because Mahomes turned in the worst performance of his young career thus far on a night where he couldn't afford to be anything less than great.
As a refresher, Mahomes' final statline last night consisted of 270 yards on 26-of-49 passing with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 33 yards rushing. He averaged a low 5.5 yards per attempt and merely 3.67 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt.
In Mahomes' three years as full-time starter for KC, he has thrown for 270 yards or fewer in 13 games. One of those was the October 2019 contest when Mahomes hurt his knee and had to exit before the end of the first half. So in a full game, Mahomes has totaled less than 270 yards only 12 times.
Mahomes might have struggled with the yardage total in those 12 games, but he was usually perfect otherwise. He threw 25 touchdowns to only two picks total in games where he threw for fewer than 270 yards. He threw at least one touchdown in every contest. Mahomes averaged more yards per attempt in every one of those games than he did in Super Bowl LV with the exception of this year's win over the Saints, when Mahomes threw for 254 yards while averaging 5.4 yards per attempt. Those are extremely low numbers for Mahomes, but he threw three touchdowns to offset the poor efficiency. And Mahomes' 3.67 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt in this year's Big Game is by far the worst number of his career. The second-lowest? A 5.40 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt mark in last year's Super Bowl.
There is only one contest among Mahomes' game logs that could lodge a legitimate claim to be his worst game besides last night: a Week 13 contest against the Raiders in 2019, Mahomes' second game back after injuring his knee. He threw for 175 yards with one touchdown while completing 51 percent of his passes (15-of-29), averaging 6.03 yards per attempt and 6.72 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt. The completion percentage mark is exactly one point lower than his Super Bowl LV numbers (52 percent). Mahomes completed his passes at about the same paltry rate while throwing for 100 yards less against the Raiders. But against the Bucs, Mahomes failed to throw a touchdown and threw two picks on top of that.
In summary, Mahomes has never put together a game like he did in Super Bowl LV. If he throws for a low yardage total, he offsets it with great efficiency. Barring great efficiency, he scores touchdowns. Even in the worst outing of his career to date leading up to Sunday night, he managed to average more yards gained per attempt and scored a touchdown. But this is the first time he failed to do, well, anything right. On top of it all, it came on Super Bowl Sunday as opposed to a lazy December afternoon.
It was shocking, honestly. The expectations the general public has for Mahomes is nearly incomprehensible. The dude has just been so good every week for three years that an average game by everyone else's standards sticks out like a sore thumb. Mahomes did choose quite a stage to turn in the worst individual game numbers of his career, sure, but it's the nature of sports that players turn in a stinker every now and again. This was the first time Mahomes did without doing something else positive to make up for it. It only took 45 games.
And it led to a devastating loss that will be forever remembered in the grand discussions of quarterback greatness for years to come. Mahomes had the worst game of his career in Super Bowl LV. It will be a long time before he or anybody else forgets that.