Despite the roster changes, Mahomes led the league in passing yards (5,250, a career high) and touchdowns (41), aiming scoring throws at 11 different receivers over the season. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 14-3 record and the top seed in the A.F.C., en route to the team’s third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons.
“Bruh, he’s competitive. He’s not your average individual,” Bieniemy said while shaking his head in a recent interview. Bieniemy pointed to Mahomes’s getting new receivers up to speed before the season, or calling him at random hours of the night to review plays.
Perhaps Mahomes’s best performance of the season was in the A.F.C. championship game win over the Cincinnati Bengals, who have been a persistent roadblock for Mahomes and Kansas City. The Bengals had prevailed in their last three matchups, pressuring Mahomes into uncharacteristically poor decisions while Burrow gained prominence — and a Super Bowl berth last season — in part because of his success against Kansas City.
Mahomes was hobbled with a sprained ankle the week before, but he managed 326 passing yards and two touchdowns, and Kansas City won, 23-20, to advance to the championship game. After Kansas City’s win, Mahomes and his teammates quickly responded: “We showed this place is Arrowhead. It’s not ‘Burrowhead’ out here,” Mahomes said after the game, referring to comments made by Bengals players before the matchup.
Mahomes’s remark was a rare public boast, and it came after a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. With Brady retired and Rodgers reportedly pondering his own, a new generation of quarterbacks will battle and trade M.V.P. Awards as those two did for much of their careers.
In the A.F.C., there is quarterback talent aplenty with the Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Burrow, among others. But even with that deep talent pool, Mahomes has been a step ahead of the rest, with the road to the Super Bowl having to go through him and Kansas City each season.