TAMPA ― The living legend had won again, but before leaving Arrowhead Stadium, he wanted some face time with the future.
So Tom Brady walked to the Chiefs locker room and asked a security guard if he could speak privately with Patrick Mahomes.
“First of all, I’m thankful that Tom talked to Patrick when Patrick was young and gave him the words of encouragement that he did after the championship game there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “I’m grateful to him for that. To a young guy, that means a lot.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that, and Patrick did, too. It was just a respect thing and I just really thought that was great. That was a tough game, and he just said, ‘Hey, you just keep being you and things are going to work out.’ I think that just kind of, those simple words, that’s big for a young guy to hear, especially from somebody that great.”
Brady and Mahomes went toe to toe during the Patriots’ 37-31 overtime win in the AFC Championship game two years ago. Each had led scoring drives in the final minute of regulation, with 44 of the 68 points coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“It was such a great game, with so many emotions going back and forth in the end,” Mahomes said on NFL Live from the Pro Bowl following that season. “I felt like he just came up to me saying, ‘Good game,’ and everything like that. He was in my place, he was young, he got to win a Super Bowl in the first year with (Tedy Bruschi) and everybody. He understands that time, it flies by, so make sure to put in the work. I think that he saw that I put in the work to be in those situations.”
It was the second time the two had faced each other during the 2018 season. Brady won the first meeting, as well, 43-40, in another dramatic battle.
Brady went on to win his sixth Lombardi Trophy, beating the Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl 53. But it was Mahomes who was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
Last season, Mahomes and the Chiefs beat the Patriots 23-16 in a regular-season game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. This time, the curly-headed kid with the cannon on his arm finished the season as the Super Bowl MVP.
On Sunday, Brady and Mahomes will share the field again, most likely for the final time unless they meet in a Super Bowl sometime in the next two seasons.
The Chiefs are coming off a dramatic 35-31 win over the Raiders, with Mahomes driving his team 75 yards in 75 seconds to throw a game-winning touchdown to Travis Kelce. Meanwhile, Brady needed only a field goal to tie the Rams but threw a late fourth-quarter interception to seal a 27-24 loss.
The Chiefs are 9-1 and have won five in a row but are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC behind the 10-0 Steelers.
The Bucs are 7-4 and currently holding down the No. 6 seed in the NFC while trying to avoid their first losing streak with Brady under center.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who has been fortunate to coach quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer, marvels at Mahomes’ athleticism and ability to throw passes unlike any quarterback in the league.
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“I think he’s a very unique individual,” Arians said. “You teach young guys to never throw it back across the field, but he does it in a ridiculous manner — sidearm, underhand — and he’s very accurate. I think most guys cannot do that. He has a different skillset than other people as far as throwing back across the field. But, you’ve still got to chase him around (and) you’ve got to plaster down the field. He also does a great job of running and getting first downs himself. It’s a different, unique challenge when you start chasing him around.”
Regardless of how many more times Brady and Mahomes meet, Reid said, they could ultimately find themselves on the same Pro Football Hall of Fame Team in Canton, Ohio.
“Right now, Pat is young in this,” Reid said. “He’s got a bunch of years to go to do his thing, and Tom is a little bit older. But he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame, so you’ll remember him forever. And that’s what Pat is striving to be: great. And if you’re great, you’re going to be in the Hall of Fame, too, and your name will last forever.”