Mahomes sees value in Super Bowl loss

Sam Mcdowell The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) warms up before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Minutes after the Super Bowl had concluded, as white and red confetti showered the Buccaneers' trophy presentation, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes talked with reporters on a Zoom call, looking like he wanted to do just about anything other than ... talk to reporters on a Zoom call.

But he was courteous, even forthcoming and, at times, particularly blunt.

"(That's) the worst that I think I've been beaten in a long time," he said. The loss would stick with him awhile, he later explained, perhaps through an entire offseason.

That's by design, as it turns out. He doesn't want forget it.

Two months later, as the Chiefs began their offseason program Monday with virtual meetings, Mahomes said he's re-watched the Super Bowl twice.

But it's been on his mind far more often. He's learned from the game itself — takeaways like not every play needs to be a home run. Singles win games, too. And beyond the intricacies within his team's performance, he's drawn from the result itself. From the disappointment of it in particular.

Just as he's done before.

This is where the strategical reminders come into play.

In Mahomes' first year as a starter, the Chiefs came within one offsides call — or one coin toss, or one defensive stop or whatever you want to call it — shy of reaching the Super Bowl.

Within a week after watching Tom Brady's Patriots hoist the Super Bowl trophy instead, Mahomes had flown to Texas to begin working out, telling his personal trainer he'd do anything to never experience that again. He followed by leading the Chiefs to their first championship in 50 seasons.

"I mean you have to let that stuff motivate you to get better each and every day," Mahomes said Monday. "You look back at that, and we were able to find a way to flip a switch and make ourselves better and make a run at the Super Bowl the next year.

"(Now), you have to try to have that same mentality of knowing that we've been there two years in a row; we've won one; we've lost one. We have to find a way to get back and try to win it."

If the Chiefs make another championship run in 2021, it will be impossible to pinpoint the exact reasoning or measure the exact impact of the motivation they're drawing from that night in Tampa Bay.

But the point is it matters to the quarterback, who has searched for reasons to be motivated in the past. Here, he doesn't have to do much searching. And it's not just the quarterback.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he's re-watched the Super Bowl a handful of times. He also is trying to learn from it and talked about keeping composure. But that motivational stuff?

Some might consider it obvious. Well, he's seen similar losses have the opposite effect. It's not so easy to find it motivational, he says, and so he's been texting his teammates often, reminding them of how difficult winning can be. Reminding them of how close they were. Instructing them how to get back and change the result.

"Every time I watch it, it kind of hurts a little bit more," Mathieu said. "For me, it's all about staying on top of my guys. I think losses like that can kind of derail certain teams. "I think for us, if we put it behind us and learn from it, I think it will be one of those games that can build us going forward."