(Reuters) – There have been no shortage of highlights in Patrick Mahomes’ short NFL career but none were more impressive than his performance on Sunday as he brought Kansas City back from a 24-0 deficit to beat Houston 51-31 in the NFL playoffs. The Chiefs quarterback had five touchdowns, threw for 321 yards and ran for 53 more, and showed the kind of leadership that could carry them to their first Super Bowl in 50 years if they get past Tennessee in the American Football Conference championship game.
Even when there looked to be no way back for the Chiefs on Sunday Mahomes’ belief never wavered.
“The biggest thing I was preaching was, ‘Let’s go do something special. Everybody is counting us out. Let’s just go keep fighting and just go one play at a time,’” he told reporters.
“We found a way. Obviously, a huge win and now we get the AFC Championship game at home.” The Chiefs will host the Titans as they bid to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969.
Mahomes, who was named the league’s MVP last season, his first as a starter, threw a playoffs record-tying four touchdowns in the second quarter against the Texans.
He also became the first player in the postseason with at least 300 yards passing, five touchdowns and 50 or more yards on the ground. And when the Chiefs fell behind early it was their 24-year-old quarterback on the sidelines urging his team mates not to give up and asking the fans to stay on their side. “Having those fans that are loud and giving us passion, that momentum, the whole thing — you feel that as a team,” Mahomes said. “So I went to make sure the fans were still in it. That we weren’t going to give up. We were going to fight until the end.” Mahomes showed flashes of brilliance in last season’s playoffs when he dueled Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game but ultimately came up short in a 37-31 overtime loss.
Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark said he knew Mahomes had the ability to bring them back from the brink against the Texans.
“At the end of the day, we got an MVP quarterback back there,” he said. “It ain’t too much pressure on you.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford