Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made a habit of making dramatic comebacks and engineered his latest rally in a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Quarterback Patrick Mahomes admits he gets angry when his team struggles early in games, but honest self-assessments and management of that anger have allowed him to make what have now become expected dramatic comebacks.
Mahomes' Chiefs faced another early deficit Sunday before the Super Bowl LIV MVP willed his team to victory. The Chiefs overcame the Miami Dolphins' 10-0 first-half lead with a run of 30 unanswered points.
Dolphins defensive linemen roughed up Mahomes, and he threw two first-quarter interceptions -- matching his total from 12 previous games this season. The All-Pro known for his out-of-this-world deliveries looked uncharacteristically pedestrian before he ignited the Chiefs' offense.
"Obviously, you get angry," Mahomes said Sunday on a postgame video conference. "You don't want to turn the ball over and put your defense in that situation.
"At the same time, I have the ultimate confidence in the guys around me that we're going to keep battling and find ways to win games."
Dolphins defenders smothered Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and allowed a big performance from tight end Travis Kelce as part of their strategy to limit Mahomes' favorite weapons.
The cast of All-Pros teamed up for just 26 total yards over the first seven minutes the Chiefs possessed the ball.
Mahomes stewed as he sat by himself on the sideline. He stared into the distance and wore a stoic expression on his face as he assessed the poor start and visualized how he could adjust to the adversity.
That visualization is likely easier for him compared to others, as his resume already features countless examples of Chiefs' rallies.
The Week 14 matchup in Miami Gardens, Fla., didn't have as much significance as the NFL-record 24-point comeback Mahomes engineered last postseason against the Houston Texans, but it did add to the quarterback's reputation as one of the league's best playmakers.
Mahomes' Chiefs also trailed by 10 points in the Super Bowl, but he led the team to a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on the very same field -- Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. -- on which he overcame Sunday's 10-point deficit.
The Chiefs also trailed, twice, by 10 points in the 2020 AFC Championship game before Mahomes led another comeback to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl.
Before an Oct. 11 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, Mahomes had won six consecutive games after his team trailed by 10 points or more -- an NFL record for a quarterback. Since that streak ended, the Chiefs have won the last two games in which they trailed by at least 10 points, including Sunday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said a key for his management of the young star is to let him "keep firing" passes, even through his struggles. He wants Mahomes to maintain the confidence that allows him to make his token off-balance and no-look passes with regularity, but also to learn from his mistakes.
Mahomes -- the NFL's highest-paid player -- has more accolades than most who have played his position in league history, but he admits to his flaws and maintains an honest dialogue with his teammates. That allows the Chiefs to weather storms that other teams without that dynamic cannot.
It also makes possible for Mahomes to overcome nearly any deficit.
"It's a tribute to his greatness," Reid said. "He works through it. ... He has to work his tail off to be great. I don't want to slight that part.
"He's engaging with [his teammates]. He's honest with them. He's honest about himself. He brings it all together. It's a tribute to the kid."
Kelce said the Chiefs look to Mahomes for leadership when adversity strikes. The 25-year-old quarterback in the No. 15 jersey knows that his body language and overall composure flows through teammates and produce positive or negative results at any moment.
Kelce also called offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy "one of the best in the league" when it comes to rallying Chiefs players and keeping the team united. But he said Mahomes is the key to the Chiefs' pristine performances in the clutch.
"i think Patrick does it better than anybody in the league," Kelce said. "When adversity hits, his level of play goes up. We rally and we follow the leader."
New Orleans Saints' Taysom Hill (C) is sacked by the Philadelphia Eagles' Javon Hargrave (R) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Eagles defeated the Saints 24-21. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo