ATLANTA – Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs fell an overtime decision short of the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 49 years.
But the Kansas City quarterback joined teammates in Atlanta this weekend, anyway, in town to accept another in a long line of accolades from his spectacular first season behind center.
This time: Mahomes was named the Associated Press Most Valuable Player at the NFL Honors ceremony on Saturday night, receiving 41 of 50 votes (the rest went to Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints). He also was given the NFL offensive player of the year award.
Mahomes led the league with 50 touchdowns and ranked second with 5,097 total passing yards, an average of 318.6 per game. His 113.8 passer rating trailed only Brees.
The numbers mirrored his video-game-like Texas Tech career, with a final season of 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. And Mahomes, who learned behind quarterback Alex Smith last season after Kansas City drafted him No. 10 overall in 2017, only took one year on the field to get there.
Cue the Chiefs’ 12-4 season and AFC Championship Game appearance after leading the league in total offense (425.6 yards) and scoring (35.3 points). Mahomes didn’t allow a noticeable dropoff after Kansas City released Kareem Hunt in November following assault allegations. Baseball-like acrobatic throws, big plays and even a left-handed third-down conversion (he is right-handed) dotted a season of spectacle.
“The first couple games, we thought, ‘Is this an outlier? Is this something that’s going to last?’ ” Chiefs CEO and chairman Clark Hunt said in January. “He literally has done it every week.”
Mahomes became the youngest player to throw six touchdowns in a game. He also was the first to throw for more than 3,000 yards in his first 10 games and the fastest to 4,000 (4,207 in 13 games). His 50-touchdown mark joins only two other quarterbacks in NFL. Both, in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, are future Hall of Famers.
Mahomes did it all within just months of turning 23. He sees his ceiling far beyond.
So does Brady.
“He’s a hell of a … I mean, what a great young player,” the Patriots quarterback told NBC’s Peter King after the AFC Championship Game. “So impressed with his poise, his leadership.
“He is spectacular.”
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.