KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One hour after his 23-year-old son had demolished the Indianapolis Colts, 31-13, defeated a quarter of a century of futility in the playoffs of the Kansas City Chiefs and announced the post-war arrival of a new threat of quarterback of the championship in the AFC, Randi Martin stopped in a crowded elevator at the Arrowhead Stadium and shook his head at the wonder of all this.
"I was watching him doing interviews and interacting with all those people," he said. "I was simply amazed, I do not know how he does it."
It is something that all the leaders and most of the football have wondered while Patrick Mahomes has stormed the regular season with 5,097 passes and 50 touchdown passes. In just his second NFL season and his first as an appetizer, he would have to take a team of Chiefs who arrived after losing 10 of his last 11 playoff games and somehow taking him to an elusive championship game next Sunday.
On a cold Saturday, with the snowflakes dancing across the Arrowhead Stadium, Mahomes did all this in the beating of the Chiefs Colts. On a day when many wondered if the pressure of a playoff game would be too much for such a young person, Mahomes committed the infraction of the Chiefs as a veteran, dragging the Colts into various offensive rigors and baffling their defense with a series of shouts and gestures.
He only launched for 278 yards, did not have a touchdown pass and his 85.2 rating was almost pedestrian compared to some of his most outrageous performances. But later, what impressed the players and coaches of the Chief as much as Mahomes' mother is the fact that he brought Kansas City to a playoff win. And this was more important than all the big touchdown launches of the regular season.
"He does a great job with the countdown," said head coach Andy Reid with a small sneer. "He has a talent for [drawing defenders offsides] he has that special voice. "
Later, while Mahomes sat on a stool in the locker room, slowly pulling his clothes, his center Mitch Morse, glanced through the locker room and shook his head.
"The boy just got different," he said of Mahomes. "Just as the boy's life has changed in recent months, so much has happened in his life, he can not even walk down the street without being assaulted."
Or his locker room. Just to go from the field to his locker, Mahomes had to cross an adoring crowd of fans who eventually believe they have the quarterback to take them to a place they've never been. He walked past a lounge just outside the locker room full of fans who bore his number 15, shouting his name and hoping that a Super Bowl that had escaped them for years could finally be a possibility.
The Chiefs had not won a playoff game at home since 1994 and here was a frustration of January. Saturday seemed to promise another disaster. A constant snowfall fell throughout the night and throughout the morning, covering trees, roads and sidewalks in a thick layer of snow: hardly the weather to allow for a dynamic offense run by a young Texas quarterback. Three hours before the game, the cars had already blocked the snowy highways that surrounded Arrowhead. The snow fell so fast that it was almost impossible to see the stadium, with the lights on, from the back of the parking lot.
When the Arrowhead gates opened, the fans in the upper deck found several inches of snow on their seats. A fierce wind beat the flags at the top of the board. You could barely see the signs of hashes. It seemed to be the wrong afternoon for Patrick Mahomes.
But then not long before the kick started the snow slowed, the clouds above the stadium lifted. The field cleared and Mahomes dazzled. He led Kansas City on three penalties, allowing the leaders to build a 17-0 lead at the start of the second quarter, then controlling the game, running down the clock like an annoyed Kansas City defense – ranked last or almost last in many key categories, suffocating the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis did not have a first down until the middle of the first half and found himself in possession of the ball only for 20:11 – or slightly half of the time as the Chiefs. Luck, the star with experience in this game that had led the Colts to five consecutive victories before Saturday, had just exceeded 203 meters, was intercepted once and looked shaken.
Mahomes, the one who could have been overwhelmed, simply moved the Chiefs' landing field over and over again.
"I'm just proud of the way he goes about his business," said his quarterback's Reid who looked like Saturday except 23.