Patrick Mahomes: The Comeback King Comparisons to Brady and Jordan, Plus Mind-Blowing Playoff Stats


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Patrick Mahomes put on his superman cape in Super Bowl LVIII and led the Chiefs down the field time after time on do-or-die drives to earn his third Super Bowl MVP. He is the first athlete in NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB history with three championship MVPs in his first seven seasons.

Somehow, the greatest QB talent in NFL history manages to take his game to an even higher level in the playoffs, resembling some of the greatest playoff performers in sports history.

Here are five things about Mahomes’ playoff resume that will blow your mind and who it should remind you of:

1. Best closer since Jordan

Mahomes’ clutch play resembles the GOAT, Michael Jordan. I always enjoy the debate of who would you want with the ball in their hands at the end of the game.

Well, Patrick Mahomes is the best “closer” in NFL history and the best in any sport since Michael Jordan. That is crystal clear after Sunday’s late heroics during which the Chiefs were 3-for-3 converting must-have drives in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The Chiefs have had 21 potential game-tying or go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the playoffs with Mahomes. They’ve successfully tied or gone ahead on 15 of those drives. That’s good for a preposterous conversion rate of 71%, which is the best by any QB since the turn of the century — way ahead of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who are tied for second at 53%.

According to Neil Paine, Mahomes is 7-for-7 converting playoff drives with under a minute left in regulation and trailing by seven or fewer points. He is the only perfect player in those situations since 2001. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 5-for-11 (46%) and the league average is 40% in that span.

This is Michael Jordan stuff. M.J. was 9-for-18 on game-tying or go-ahead shot attempts in the final 24 seconds of a game in his playoff career. Fifty percent! Kobe Bryant (25%) and LeBron James (37%) can’t touch that 50/50 split. Neither can any other MVP in recent memory: Kevin Durant (26%), Stephen Curry (24%), James Harden (27%), Tim Duncan (29%), Dirk Nowitzki (39%) or Steve Nash (23%).

Mahomes has two walk-off touchdown passes in overtime in the playoffs. Well, Jordan hit two series-clinching buzzer-beaters: “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo in 1989 and another against the Cavaliers in 1993. He scored or assisted on five makes in the final 10 seconds of series clinchers, including his iconic crossover and jumper vs. Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

And a bonus comparison: Mahomes has been ring-blocking like Jordan. M.J. is one reason that Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller (among others) never won a ring.

Here are the seven QBs Mahomes has beaten during his seven-game playoff win streak: Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Brock Purdy.

2. Comeback king like Brady

Mahomes added to his comeback legend on Sunday, winning after the Chiefs trailed 10-0. He’s now 17-14 in his entire career (regular season and postseason) when down double digits, the best record by any QB all-time (minimum five starts). He’s 5-2 in the playoffs down 10+ points (rest of NFL is 8-55 since 2018) and 3-1 in the Super Bowl (rest of NFL is 4-48 all-time).

The only QB with more double-digit comeback wins in the playoffs is Tom Brady, who was 6-8 in those spots. The notable ones: a 28-3 comeback in Super Bowl LI vs. the Falcons, the 2017 AFC Championship vs. the Jaguars (down 10 in the fourth quarter) and a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback in Super Bowl XLIX vs. the Seahawks. Brady was 2-1 in the Super Bowl when down 10+ points. He and Mahomes account for five of the seven largest comebacks in Super Bowl history.

3. Elevates from regular season to playoffs like ‘Playoff Jimmy’

Mahomes improves his playoff numbers across the board despite more at stake, playing better defenses and in tougher conditions (like one of the coldest games ever).

There’s 35 quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 10 playoff starts. Mahomes is the only one to improve his numbers from the regular season to the playoffs in each of these five categories: win percentage, completion percentage, touchdown percentage, interception percentage and rush yards per game.

So all he does is win more, complete more passes, throw more touchdowns, fewer picks … and run more — when the games matter most.

He certainly used his legs when it counted in Super Bowl LVIII, recording the most rush yards by a QB (66) in a win in Super Bowl history.

I say we call him “Playoff Mahomes” just like how NBA players have gotten nicknames, like “Playoff Rondo” or “Playoff Jimmy.”

The latter has made big jumps from the regular season to the playoffs in recent years to earn that nickname. Hat tip to Micah Adams (@MAdamsStatGuy), who pointed out last year that Jimmy Butler is the only player since Michael Jordan retired to improve his numbers from the regular season to the playoffs in: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and effective field goal percentage.

4. Full season worth of playoff games like Jeter 

Mahomes now has 18 playoff starts under his belt, more than the equivalent of a full season worth of games. Hat-tip to Trey Wingo (@wingoz), who said Mahomes is to the NFL what Derek Jeter is to baseball.

Patrick Mahomes playoff career: 18 games, 15-3 record, 41 Pass TD, 8 INT, 5,135 passing yards

Derek Jeter playoff career: 158 games, .308 average, 20 HR, 200 hits, 111 runs

5. Flawless like Tiger

Mahomes’ playoff numbers continue to rise because he has been virtually flawless in the last two postseason runs. Prior to the Super Bowl, he had gone six straight starts without an interception, the longest streak by a QB in playoff history. During that run, he had a three-game streak with no sacks or turnovers, also a playoff record.

Tiger Woods comes to mind when I think of consistency and mistake-free streaks in sports. He holds or ties the PGA TOUR record for consecutive cuts made at the Masters (23), major events (39) and all events (142). His streak at the Masters is tied with Gary Player and Fred Couples for the longest ever. He could set the mark in April.

Add it all up, and it’s no wonder why Mahomes is already the second or third-best QB in NFL history in most peoples minds and on track to become one of the greatest athletes in sports history.

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