KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All of Arrowhead, all of a long-suffering football city began willing Patrick Mahomes to the Super Bowl right from the start, willed him every step of the way to take the torch from Tom Brady, even if Brady will never be ready to pass it until he is home for good with Gisele.
On every play they could, across every minute, for 60 minutes and beyond, they came to unleash the kind of rumbling thunder you would expect from a fan base that has been waiting 49 long years to get back to a Super Bowl and win it, and remind Brady’s 41-year-old ears he picked the wrong time and the wrong place to be so greedy and continue his assault on history.
And picked the wrong quarterback.
A fearless young gunslinger who would relish a shootout with the great Brady, who would like his chances if he happened to be the last man with the ball at the end with his team begging him to drive it to Atlanta and Super Bowl LIII to face the Rams.
Except there was no fear in Brady either, never has been on these big stages, in these big moments. Mahomes takes your breath away. Brady takes your heart away.
It was Brady who had announced to his teammates in the days leading up to this AFC Championship bout:
“I am the baddest mother—-er on the planet.”
And when his team needed him to be the baddest motherbleeper on the planet, at the end of regulation and in overtime, he sure was.
Matthew Slater called heads and Brady got the ball first in OT and never let Mahomes have it.
“As soon as I saw it was heads, I know what happens at the end of this one,” Devin McCourty said.
They all did.
“We were saying on the sideline, ‘Let’s just go down and end this now,’” Rob Gronkowski said.
Brady hit Chris Hogan for 10 yards, then Julian Edelman for 20 on third-and-10, then Edelman again for 15, then a rejuvenated Gronkowski for 15 on third-and-10.
Brady was 15 yards from Super Bowl LIII.
Three Rex Burkhead carries, the third one from the 2, carried Brady, the 37-31 winner, back to his ninth Super Bowl.
“What a game!” Brady said to Jim Nantz.
What a GOAT.
“Great way to end it. That was probably as excited as I’ve been in a long time,” Brady said.
Mahomes had solved Bill Belichick in the second half, stood toe-to-toe with the great Brady, put up 24 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Brady, as mentally tough as anyone who has ever played the position, supported by a smashmouth running game led by Sony Michel, had to overcome a second-half interception off Edelman’s hands that had gifted Mahomes one of his go-ahead scores.
“He’s always ready for these moments, and that’s why he’s the greatest quarterback just hands down,” Gronkowski said.
“It’s in his DNA. His clutch gene. He’s got it,” Edelman echoed.
Brady, trailing 28-24 in regulation, had it at his 35 with 1:57 left and all three timeouts.
Brady to Edelman for 20. Brady to Hogan for 11.
Third-and-5, 0:54 on the clock.
Brady 29 yards from Super Bowl LIII.
Brady to Gronkowski for 25 yards against Eric Berry.
Brady 4 yards from Super Bowl LIII.
0:42 on the clock.
Burkhead finished the job.
But Mahomes wasn’t conceding baddest motherbleeper on the planet to Brady just yet.
Mahomes, starting from his 31, quickly drove the Chiefs to the tying 39-yard field goal with eight seconds left in regulation.
Mahomes had had 3:26 and two timeouts left when he started at his 32 trailing 24-21.
He got 23 yards on a pass interference call against J.C. Jackson.
He hit Sammy Watkins while running to his left for 38 yards, and Damien Williams scored the 2-yard TD that made it Chiefs 28, Patriots 24.
For Mahomes, the future was now, and it had arrived much sooner than anyone could have imagined.
For Brady, the future was now as well, because you don’t know how many tomorrows remain for you.
“These are memories that’ll last a lifetime,” Brady said.
This gripping, nerve-wracking heavyweight showdown was akin to a World Series Game 7, where every pitch matters. Every play mattered. Hope hung on every Mahomes pass. Consternation greeted every Brady completion, every Brady advance.
“When you got 70,000 cheering against you, it’s pretty sweet when you win on the road,” Brady said.
Afterward, Brady classily sought out Mahomes in the Chiefs locker room for a private chat. No passing of the torch on this night.