Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes will face each other on February 7th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa in one of the most anticipated quarterback matchups in Super Bowl history.
But before stepping onto the world’s biggest stage, both superstar callers had the chance to take on the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium during the NFL’s inaugural season in Las Vegas.
The Chiefs and Buccaneers both left the desert with wins, but the games were very different.
Brady had one of his best games against the Raiders in an October 25 game that had the added intrigue of repeating off-season speculation that the Raiders had been one of Brady’s possible landing sites when he left New England.
Thanks to improved COVID-19 logs, the Raiders were understaffed for most of the week, and concerns about the team’s ability to field a full team resulted in the game being postponed from prime time, but Brady was not impressed.
He threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, when the Buccaneers retired for a 45-20 win.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden lamented his team’s inability to generate a pass rush against the six-time Super Bowl champion.
“If you let Tom Brady stand back and look over the field, he has proven for 20 years and 21 years that he is still one of the best,” said Gruden after the defeat.
Brady is widely considered to be the best quarterback in NFL history. It is certainly the most decorated. However, Mahomes gives every indication that he might question these titles.
That’s not good news for a Raiders franchise that will face him twice a year at AFC West for the years to come.
The Raiders have managed to finally beat Mahomes this season despite taking revenge in the rematch in Las Vegas.
The first round went to the Raiders in Kansas City when the Chiefs fell for the only time that season in a game started by Mahomes.
In contrast to the Bucs game and most of the rest of the season, the Raiders were able to generate a pass rush at this first meeting with the Chiefs, which was reflected in the results.
Mahomes was sacked three times and intercepted once under pressure as the Raiders escaped Arrowhead Stadium with a 40:32 win.
They almost deserved a win in the second leg on November 22nd at Allegiant Stadium.
Mahomes was picked up again in that game and gave the Raiders two of the six interceptions against him that season.
But he had a clean pocket far too often and was not released from the game. Mahomes developed a game-changing ride after the Raiders used 1:43 to play.
Travis Kelce took advantage of a blown high school insert for an easy 22-yard touchdown reception as the Chiefs rebounded and prevailed 35:31.
Gruden described why it is so difficult to put pressure on Mahomes, especially when he is so adept at beating additional rushers.
“Mahomes sees lightning and has probably the fastest trigger in the league,” said Gruden. “He knows how to buy time and they have some great audibles that beat lightning.”
Mahomes scored 688 yards and four touchdowns in the two games against the Raiders that season.
The Raiders will play the Chiefs twice next year, but the Buccaneers are not on the agenda.
Contact Adam Hill at [email protected] Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.