KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes was 6 years old when the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI and he has watched Tom Brady play quarterback on football’s biggest stage many times since. So excuse Mahomes if it seems to him like Brady has played in more Super Bowls than have ever been played.
“Being able to go up against one of the greatest if not the greatest quarterback of all time in his 150th Super Bowl, it’s going to be a great experience for me,” Mahomes said after the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LV against Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS).
“To go out there and get to have a chance to repeat and get to do it against the best, I mean it’s something special and I’m excited for the opportunity.”
But he doesn’t have one against Brady. Few quarterbacks do. The list includes just two names: Eli Manning, who beat Brady in a Super Bowl twice with the New York Giants, and Nick Foles, who did it with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The list of quarterbacks who have lost a Super Bowl to Brady is longer. Six have done it: Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams, Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers, Donovan McNabb of the Eagles, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams.
Mahomes’ name will be on one of these lists and his legacy could eventually depend on which one. Brady with a victory would have a 3-2 record against Mahomes, including wins in an AFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl. He also would have seven Super Bowl victories, making it difficult for Mahomes to ever catch him.
Mahomes with a Chiefs victory would have that rare prize, a Super Bowl win over Brady, and would narrow the gap between them in championships to four.
He also might have some space in Brady’s head, if this tweet Brady sent upon Manning’s retirement last year is any indication.
Congratulations on your retirement, and a great career Eli! Not going to lie though, I wish you hadn’t won any Super Bowls.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 24, 2020
Manning in a recent interview with Forbes magazine called the formula for beating Brady in a Super Bowl an easy one.
“You just have to have Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul on the defensive line — guys like that — making a bunch of sacks, and it shouldn’t be a problem at all,” Manning said.
The Chiefs won’t have any of those players on defense in this year’s Super Bowl. But Manning’s point is well-taken. The Giants won twice against Brady because they held the Patriots to 14 points one time and 17 points the other.
But holding down the points isn’t a foolproof way to get the job done. Brady and the Patriots scored 13 points against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII but won by 10. The Patriots scored 33 points in Super Bowl LII against Foles and the Eagles, but lost by eight.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows about losing to Brady in the Super Bowl. The Patriots beat Reid and the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter but ate up too much of the game clock on a touchdown drive and left themselves little time to finish the comeback.
Reid may be Mahomes’ greatest ally this time around. His offensive playcalling helped the Chiefs hold off Brady and the Bucs in Week 12 this season.
The Chiefs, after leading by 17 points earlier in the fourth quarter, were clinging to a 27-24 lead in the final minutes. Facing a third-and-7 the Chiefs needed to convert in order to keep the ball away from Brady, Reid called for a pass, which Mahomes completed for 8 yards to Tyreek Hill.
With a fresh set of downs the Chiefs ran out the clock. Asked why he risked an incomplete pass or an interception on third down rather than a running play that would have kept the clock moving, Reid said, “I learned a long time ago you don’t give the ball back to Tom Brady.”
Mahomes has played well in his four career matchups against Brady. He has 1,392 yards, or almost 350 yards per game, with 12 touchdown passes and three interceptions while completing more than 65% of his throws. His passer rating is 111.
Brady against Mahomes has 1,202 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 63% of his passes. His passer rating is 82.
The series between the two is 2-2.
Reid will be worrying about bigger things once the game starts, but for now he’s savoring the matchup.
“We look forward to the opportunity to play them and I know Pat does with Tom and I’m sure likewise Tom does with Pat,” Reid said. “So it should be a heck of a football game.”