Before this week’s Sunday night game that matched Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, NBC used Beck’s cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man” in its commercials.
It was a little schmaltzy, but it wasn’t off point. Beck sang “Old man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you were” over highlights of the two quarterbacks. It ended up being a fitting soundtrack to a game that seemed meaningful, in more ways than just which team won in Week 4.
Mahomes darted around, ducking and spinning around Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenders to make some highlight plays. He looked like a 27-year-old superstar who isn’t just in his prime, but still ascending if that’s possible. He controlled the entire game like Brady had for so many years.
Brady didn’t look like an old man or close to it — he still made several nice throws, tosses that no other 45-year-old QB has ever made — but it was clear that the two quarterbacks are at much different points in their careers.
The Kansas City Chiefs rocked the Buccaneers on Sunday night. They led 28-10 late in the second half. Everything was labored for the Buccaneers, at least in comparison to the Chiefs slicing through a very good Tampa Bay defense. The Chiefs won 41-31 and it looked a lot easier than that.
If we see Brady and Mahomes face off again, it will likely have to be in the Super Bowl at the end of the season. The Chiefs look like a threat to make it that far, mostly because of Mahomes. The Buccaneers might be another story.
Chiefs get an easy win
One of the key plays in the first half came on a Chiefs slot blitz. Brady didn’t anticipate cornerback L’Jarius Sneed blitzing and he got hit hard from his front side. Brady fumbled and immediately grabbed at his arm. He rubbed and rolled his shoulder all the way to the bench. The Chiefs scored shortly after to take a 28-10 lead.
It was a reminder of how unforgiving the NFL can be. It’s rough on everyone, but certainly to someone who was retired seven months ago.
How could you not draw comparisons between Mahomes and Brady during the game, and wonder what’s next for Brady? We know that Mahomes has years of greatness ahead of him. Brady had some good moments, but he and the Buccaneers weren’t on the same level as the Chiefs. It’s always worth noting that there is practically no history for 45-year-old quarterbacks in the NFL. George Blanda completed seven passes after he turned 45, and that was it before Brady. Everything Brady does at this age is unprecedented.
Brady isn’t the main reason for the struggles of the Buccaneers’ offense at this early point in the season. But Sunday night was about as healthy as the Buccaneers will get on offense, and they could not keep up. It looked like two teams heading in opposite directions. The quarterbacks certainly are too, though that should be expected given the stages of their careers. it was just clear for everyone to see Sunday night.
A Super Bowl rematch
Sunday night was a rematch of Super Bowl LV, which was perhaps Mahomes’ lowest moment as a pro. The Chiefs scored just nine points in a lopsided loss.
No, Mahomes didn’t “get revenge” for a loss in the Super Bowl by winning a Week 4 game. But he looked like he was locked in all night against an opponent he has some negative history against. He was excellent, throwing for three touchdowns.
This is a new challenge for Mahomes, trying to field a top-tier offense without Tyreek Hill or a reasonable replacement for him. Three different tight ends scored touchdowns for the Chiefs on Sunday night, which says a lot about their personnel and Andy Reid’s creativity in maximizing whatever he has. It won’t be the same offense as the past few years, but Reid and Mahomes will make it work.
Brady is still a very good quarterback — again, that’s remarkable at age 45 — but he’s probably beyond the Mahomes stage in which he can make anything work. Every time Brady came back for another season in his 40s, there was a chance he’d have a supremely frustrating final season. That’s how it ends for most players lucky enough to play even close to as long as Brady has. It’s a young man’s game. It’s not kind to players once they hit a certain age. There have been many instances this season, when the Buccaneers have struggled to move the ball especially as injuries hit, in which Brady has looked like he wasn’t exactly enjoying himself.
Tampa Bay is 2-2. That’s disappointing but nothing to panic about. The Bucs can still be a Super Bowl contender, especially as their injured players get back in the flow. It just might be a little more complicated than turning it all over to their quarterback and asking him to do magic, like the Chiefs can do.