With one more shot for Patrick Mahomes, AFC title-game outcome might’ve been different

The Chiefs’ 37-31 overtime loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday night marked the lowest completion percentage game in quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ young career.

He finished 16 of 31 passing for a completion rate of 51.6 percent. But there was a sense that if Mahomes got the ball back one final time, he’d have found a way to get the Chiefs the victory that would have advanced them to the Super Bowl.

After a scoreless first half, the Chiefs piled up 31 second-half points with Mahomes tossing three touchdown passes: two to running back Damien Williams and one to tight end Travis Kelce.

The Chiefs scored on five of seven second-half possessions but didn’t get an opportunity in overtime when the Patriots won the coin toss and rolled to a touchdown, ending the game.

“It seems like anything is possible with Pat,” Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. “That’s why it feels bad; it feels like we let him down. Hopefully good things to come.”

Mahomes finished the night with 295 yards through the air, which was about all the offense the Chiefs mustered in the game.

The Chiefs actually finished with 290 yards of total offense — the disparity occurred with rushing yards lost. Mahomes was sacked four times for 46 yards, three times in the first half, and the Chiefs trailed 14-0 at the break. The Patriots put defenders close to the line and played man coverage. It took two quarters for the Chiefs to adjust.

“The first half we struggled and we couldn’t make anything happen,” Mahomes said. “We started slow, but you had to trust in the process.”

In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs took leads of 21-17 and 28-24, and their 31-second drive for the game-tying field goal drive might have been one of the most clutch moments in team history — Mahomes fired strikes to Spencer Ware and Demarcus Robinson for their first receptions of the game, for a total of 48 yards — had they been able to pull out the victory.

Mahomes never got a chance. Tom Brady, who finished with 348 passing yards but two interceptions, was brilliant on the game-winning touchdown drive in overtime. He faced third-and-10 three times and went three-for-three for 50 yards on those throws.

The season is over, but Mahomes likely will be a presence at the Super Bowl in two weeks, when some NFL honors are announced. He’s already captured the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards from the Pro Football Writers of America.

In a regular season in which he produced 50 touchdowns and 5,097 passing yards, Mahomes is the front-runner for the biggest honor of all: the Associated Press’ NFL MVP, which is awarded at the Super Bowl.

None of that was part of Mahomes’ postgame thoughts Sunday night. But next season was.

“We’ll get in the work,” Mahomes said. “For us, we’re going to keep that chemistry going and get better in every way that we can. ... That’s the stuff you have to do in order to be a great team and keep the success going.”

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