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Super Bowl 2021: Patrick Mahomes is the key as Kansas City tries to create a dynasty

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Panthers during the first half of an NFL game in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 8, 2020. Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

Patrick Mahomes is living in the moment and not worrying about what it would mean for his legacy if he beats Tom Brady in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

All he cares about is beating Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and capturing his second straight Super Bowl.

"The goal is to win as many Super Bowls as possible and to be playing in this game every single year," he said. "I’m going to have that mindset every time I hit the field: I’m trying to get back in this game and I’m trying to win it.

"I’m glad we’re back in this game and get a chance to win another Super Bowl."

You might hear Mahomes repeat that last sentence several more times before his career is done — the way Brady has. The Tampa Bay quarterback is playing in his record 10th Super Bowl and going for an unheard-of seventh ring.

Make no mistake, this is a marquee matchup — along the lines of Magic Johnson toward the end of his career meeting Michael Jordan in his prime in the NBA Finals. That was a passing of the torch, and this could be as well.

Mahomes is only 25. As otherworldly as the start of his NFL career has been, he has a long way to go and a lot more to do before his legacy is set.

He has just started putting rings on his fingers. Can he reach as many Super Bowls or win as many as (or more than) Brady? You can’t rule it out if Mahomes stays healthy. Kansas City could be a dynasty in the making.

"I’m focused on this game, trying to win that second Super Bowl and hold that Lombardi Trophy and have that second ring," Mahomes said. "But at the end of my career, if I have a lot of Super Bowl rings on my hand, I’ll be happy.’’

Since Mahomes replaced Alex Smith and became Kansas City’s starting quarterback in 2018, all he’s done is lead his team to the AFC Championship Game three times. Kansas City was a play or two away from winning all three, as Brady led New England past KC, 37-31, in the AFC title game two years ago.

Mahomes’ record as a starting quarterback since then, postseason included, is 30-4. In his last 26 starts, he is 25-1 with 60 touchdown passes and only 12 interceptions. It’s mind-blowing.

With Mahomes, Kansas City could compete for a Super Bowl every year. A year ago, he helped end a drought that had lasted since January 1970 with a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback from 10 points down, and he was named Super Bowl MVP after the 31-20 win over San Francisco.

"Patrick Mahomes is the one who brought change to this team," dynamic receiver Tyreek Hill said. "It’s Pat. He’s the one that changed everything.’’

Hill also credited general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid. They helped assemble a roster loaded with weapons on offense and playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Hill might be the NFL’s most undefendable receiver, and certainly the most explosive. He had 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns in Week 12 against Tampa Bay.

Travis Kelce is arguably the NFL’s best tight end. He has 21 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns in this postseason after setting the regular-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,416).

Kansas City has a talented rookie running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire and other capable receivers in Sammy Watkins and speedy Mecole Hardman. This offense gives teams fits because if you try to take one player away, someone else can torch you.

But Mahomes literally is the ring-leader, just as Brady was in New England and now in Tampa. "Pat’s really elevated our game a lot," Hill said.

After winning last year, Kansas City’s slogan for this year has been "Run It Back." The entire organization never has lost sight of the of the goal of trying to become back-to-back champions.

Showing no complacency whatsoever, Kansas City won 14 of its first 15 games to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and disposed of Cleveland and Buffalo in the playoffs. Now KC can become the first team since Brady’s Patriots in 2004 and 2005 to win consecutive Super Bowl titles.

"Instead of soaking in all the glory of winning the Super Bowl last year, we went back to work, and we went to work every single day to make ourselves better, to prepare ourselves for every single situation that could arise," Mahomes said. "It put us in this game. But we have to keep going because we’re playing a great football team. We want to find a way to complete the ‘Run It Back’ tour."

Kelce said if Kansas City doesn’t run it back, it will be "one of the most sickening things" he’s ever experienced. If they do, perhaps observers can start calling KC a dynasty, even if they don’t want to hear that just yet.

"It doesn’t cement us any way," Hill said. "That’s our mindset. All of us are still young so we have a lot of football to play. We’re going to continue to chase these records, chase these rings and chase these dreams."

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