Patrick Mahomes looks deserving of a rematch with Tom Brady after late-game heroics against Chargers

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- When the thriller ended, when the Kansas City Chiefs had outdueled the Los Angeles Chargers and prevailed in overtime, 34-26, Thursday night at SoFi Stadium, the obvious thing came to mind.

Rematch!

Not between the Chiefs and Chargers.

But rather a rematch between the Chiefs and the Tampa Buccaneers.

Between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.

Book it for 12 months after last year’s Super Bowl mismatch that ended with the Bucs claiming the Lombardi Trophy with a 31-9 victory and the Chiefs losing their claim to an emerging dynasty.

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Look, the idea of Bill Belichick and the Patriots squaring off against Brady and Bucs here Feb. 13 in Super Bowl 56 is intriguing. But the possibility of Chiefs vs. Bucs felt delicious after Thursday night thanks in part to the following:

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce turned back the clock, looking 22 rather than 32 while weaving his way into the end zone on a 34-yard touchdown pass to win the game. He finished the night with 10 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led K.C. over the Chargers in a Thursday night thriller.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led K.C. over the Chargers in a Thursday night thriller.

Three times the Chiefs’ defense denied the Chargers points when the Chargers drove to Kansas City’s 5 or deeper.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid displayed his signature composure, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill showed off his blazing speed and yet it was something else that created a deepening belief in this team.

It was Mahomes, who was perfectly imperfect with 410 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-47 passing, along with an interception and a blown touchdown pass.

“He just keeps firing,’’ Reid said, and the Chiefs just keep winning -- seven in a row after Thursday night while improving to 10-4 and all but clinching the AFC West crown by increasing their lead over the second-place Chargers to two games with three to play.

In his fifth NFL season, Mahomes, 26, looks at his best after looking his worst.

Late in the third quarter Thursday, with the Chiefs trailing 14-13 and facing a 4-and-1 at the Chargers 2, Mahomes took the snap, looked left and saw receiver Mecole Hardman near the goal line and wide open.

Mahomes rushed the pass and “dirted it,’’ with the ball landing well short Hardman and incomplete.

On the ensuing possession, the Chiefs recovered a fumble at their 2-yard-line and entrusted Mahomes to move them out of danger. Three plays later, he threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted. The Chargers converted the turnover in a touchdown and took a 21-13 lead with 9 ½ minutes left to play.

Mahomes had put his team in a hole.

Then he dug them out after letting go of the frustration from those mistakes.

“In this league, that’s what you have to do,’’ he said.

This is where Mahomes and the Chiefs looked ready for the rematch.

Mahomes tossed two touchdown passes on the next two drives, and a third TD on the Chiefs’ lone possession in overtime. On those three drives, Mahomes threw for 187 yards on 9-for-14 passing and had a 32-yard scramble as well.

“When you have a guy back there as special as Pat, you always have a chance to win a football game,’’ Kelce said. “That’s all you can ask for right there.’’

Actually, you can also ask for a rematch, too.

Mahomes and NFL fans deserve it.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patrick Mahomes 'just keeps firing,' resurgent Chiefs keep winning