What made the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the past three years had been his uncanny ability to quickly read the defense, settle on the right read and allow his otherworldly arm do the rest.
The Buccaneers didn't even give him time to skim their defense in the Super Bowl.
Whether pushing around the makeshift Kansas City offensive line or blitzing what had been the best QB against the blitz all season, the defense of Tampa Bay coordinator Todd Bowles made life miserable for Mahomes on Sunday night. He was 26 of 49 for 270 yards and two interceptions in a 31-9 blowout that denied the Chiefs back-to-back titles.
“That's the worst I've been beaten in a long time,” Mahomes said, “but I'm proud of the way the guys fought.”
It was the first time Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to their first championship in five decades last season, lost a game he started by more than one possession since Nov. 19, 2016, when Texas Tech fell 66-10 to Iowa State.
Just like that night, Mahomes was left hobbling off the field, the beating he endured from Tampa Bay capping a playoffs in which he sustained a concussion against Cleveland and a turf toe injury that will likely require surgery.
“They had a good game plan,” said Mahomes, whose quarterback rating of 52.3 was by far the worst of his career. “They took away all our deep stuff. They took away the sideline. They did a good job routing to the football and making tackles. We weren't executing early. I had some miscues. Guys weren't on the same page.
"But credit to them, man, they played a heck of a game offensively and defensively and they beat us."