Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs Outlast Drew Brees And The Saints

Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs Outlast Drew Brees And The Saints

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees greets Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes … [+] after an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


The all-time leader in passing yardage, 41-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, returned from a rib injury to face off against the reigning Super Bowl MVP, 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes-Brees I, if you will, went to the younger model.

It was a battle of stars from the Lone Star State. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Mahomes grew up in Tyler, Texas on the eastern part of the state; Brees was born in nearby Dallas before growing up in Austin.

“You want to go up against those great quarterbacks that have done it for a long time and another Texas guy,” Mahomes said, “a guy that I’ve met a couple of times and is a great guy.”

Mahomes bested the man he looked up to, but neither Texan had their best performance.

It was actually a Louisiana native who stepped up early.

Rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who hails from Minden, La. and played collegiately at Louisiana Tech, picked off a first-quarter pass and then sacked Brees in the second quarter.

Since coming back from a collarbone injury, Sneed has effectively played a lot of slot cornerback, freeing another Louisiana product and former LSU star, Tyrann Mathieu, to roam the field, though Sneed did surrender the last touchdown of the game to Lil’Jordan Humphrey.

Mathieu and the defense played well, but the 32-29 victory may have come at a cost — namely, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, another former Louisiana product.

The rookie back, whose last game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was when he helped LSU defeat Clemson, 42-25, to win the national championship, appeared to seriously hurt his leg late in the fourth quarter, though X-rays were negative.

The Superdome is where Brees has dominated so many opponents.

But he struggled Sunday.

Whether it was a result of rust from not playing since Week 10, being less than a 100% healthy, having a depleted wide receiver corps, the Chiefs defense putting in a suffocating performance or a combination of all the above, he started the game completing 1-of-10 passes. The Saints didn’t record a first down in the first quarter.

Brees finished 15-of-34 for 234 yards with three touchdowns.

Mahomes struggled at times too. In part because of an injury-plagued offensive line, Mahomes finished with his second worst completion percentage of the season, connecting on 26-of-47 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

He was hit 11 times, including four sacks. One of them came on a 3rd and 10 with 11:04 left in the game. Trey Hendrickson sacked him and forced a fumble on a hit that looked like it could’ve hurt Mahomes’ ribs, the malady that had sidelined Brees.

Despite completing fewer passes than usual, Mahomes still showcased his Showtime magic.

On a third and eight with 2:57 left in the first quarter, Mahomes scrambled away from the defense before sidearming a 23-yard completion to Sammy Watkins. While avoiding pressure he turned on breaks, causing the pursuing Cam Jordan to stop in his tracks.

On a second and goal with 8:31 left in the third quarter, he rolled out left and threw a touchdown pass in an incredibly narrow window in the very corner of the end zone to Mecole Hardman.

The gifted passer nearly ended up with the Saints in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Saints head coach Sean Payton raved about Mahomes’ draft workout with the team, but the Chiefs traded up to the 10th overall pick before the Saints’ pick at 11, where they ended up with Marshon Lattimore in a loaded class that also netted them Hendrickson and Alvin Kamara.

“It’s just crazy how stuff works out,” Mahomes said. “I didn’t sense that they were going to pick me obviously with Drew still being there and the success that he still has to this day. And so at the same time, I think they got a great player in Marshon Lattimore.”

The question is whether the quarterback, who nearly succeeded Brees, will face him again.

Brees has one year left on his two-year, $50 million contract, but many have speculated he could retire at year’s end.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have locked up the new face of the league, Mahomes, into the 2030s with a contract that could pay him half a billion dollars.

The two embraced after the first and — potentially — last meeting between the two.

Or perhaps the sequel is to come. Some have predicted that Mahomes’ Chiefs and Brees’ Saints could meet again in just over a month in Super Bowl LV.

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