Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes adds to historic résumé with road win — Andscape
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – There wasn’t a hint of surprise in Warren Moon’s voice because, well, he has seen this show many times.
By now, Moon, the only Black quarterback enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, figured even casual NFL fans know that Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes revels in challenges. So, in the run-up to Sunday’s AFC divisional playoffs, Moon chuckled often as league observers questioned how Mahomes would fare in his first postseason test on the road.
With Mahomes in top form, the visiting Chiefs outlasted the Buffalo Bills in a 27-24 thriller at Highmark Stadium, sealing the victory after Bills place-kicker Tyler Bass missed a 44-yard field goal that would have tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Kansas City’s first playoff road game of the Mahomes era ended in the same manner in which most of its postseason games have concluded on the team’s home field and at neutral sites: with the Chiefs elated and their opponents crestfallen.
According to Moon, nothing new to see here.
“You just have to understand who he is,” Moon told Andscape on the phone late Sunday night. “The surprise wouldn’t have been if he played well, the Chiefs played well and then they were in position to [win]. The surprise would have been if he didn’t play well.
“When you look at everything he has done in his career to this point, and it has already been an incredible career, he loves challenges. And he especially loves challenges that he hasn’t faced before. This was a big challenge – and another one he conquered.”
Mahomes completed 17 passes in 23 attempts. He had 215 passing yards and connected with All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce for two touchdown passes.
For Mahomes, it felt like he was at home all night.
“That was fun,” Mahomes said. “I love Arrowhead, but it’s always fun when you get to come together as a team and be like y’all versus everybody and get the win. It’s always great to be in great environments and find a way.”
The rest of Kansas City’s offense followed Mahomes’ lead in perhaps the group’s most complete performance of the season. And defensively, the Chiefs overcame the loss of several starters who were sidelined because of injuries, making enough key plays in a resilient performance against a powerful offense led by Buffalo’s Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen.
For their efforts, the defending Super Bowl champions achieved another staggering feat with Mahomes leading the way: The Chiefs will make a record sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 28, traveling to face the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The Chiefs are excited to take to the road again, Mahomes said.
“Guys took it as a challenge,” he said of facing the Bills on Sunday night in western New York. “You saw that today.”
The Chiefs hosted the conference’s previous five championship games at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Which means, obviously, that Mahomes will be making his first appearance on the road in a conference championship game.
According to Moon, anyone who questions whether Mahomes will be up to the challenge should do so at their own peril.
“These are the things, these types of games, are the things that motivate him,” Moon said. “He went into one of the toughest environments. He faced one of the league’s best teams with the [stadium] packed and all the energy from that crowd. When you talk about playing on the road, it doesn’t get any tougher than that.
“But those aren’t things he worries about. Those are all things he feeds off. Those are things he wants. Facing a really good team, all that crowd noise and knowing [his teammates] are counting on him … that just brings out the best in him. All of that talk from the outside doesn’t matter to him. It’s just another thing on his list.”
In the postseason, the Bills have been crossed off it repeatedly.
The Chiefs defeated the Bills in the 2020 AFC Championship Game – the Bills’ only appearance in the conference title game since the 1993-94 season – 38-24. The next season, the Chiefs stunned the Bills in the divisional round, winning 42-36 in overtime after the Bills took a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds remaining on the game clock in regulation play.
This time, however, the Bills thought things would be different.
They’ve been on a roll (at one point this season, the Bills had a record of 5-5), winning five straight to close the regular season and overtake the Miami Dolphins for first place in the AFC East division. The Bills increased their winning streak to six with a victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round.
Finally, the Bills would be on their home field for the first time to face the Chiefs in a Mahomes-Allen showdown. The thing is, though, a quick glance of Mahomes’ historic statistics reveals it’s difficult to beat him wherever the Chiefs play.
During six seasons as Kansas City’s starter, Mahomes has a road record of 38-11 in the regular season. That’s a .776 winning percentage, the best mark in NFL history among passers who have played at least 14 games on the road. Hall of Famer Otto Graham, who played 36 road games, is second all-time with a .764 winning percentage.
What’s more, Mahomes’ road passer rating of 107.6 also tops the charts. With 119 passing touchdowns outside of Kansas City, Mahomes ranks only behind Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana, respectively.
In 16 playoff starts, Mahomes is 13-3. He has an incredible .813 winning percentage, which is first on the list among passers who have started at least 10 postseason games. For reference, Brady, the most successful quarterback in NFL history, has a .729 career playoff winning percentage.
Even playing on their home field in front of their rowdy crowd, the Bills still had so much going against them, Moon said.
“He had the best road record ever going into the game, and now he’s playing for the [AFC] championship his sixth year in a row. He’s only been [the Chiefs’ starter] for six years,” Moon said. “When you think about what he’s done, really, other than Brady … it’s just incredible. This was just another feather in his cap overall.”
Mahomes adds them in bunches. Up next, yet another big for the taking: facing Lamar Jackson and the Ravens with a Super Bowl berth at stake.