The Monday after the Super Bowl. The day of the year with the most unplanned absences in the American workforce. Also known informally as Super Sick Monday. While many fans don’t make it into work the day after the big game due to too many frosty beverages, or perhaps they are too stricken with grief due to their team’s loss on the world’s stage, Super Sick Monday is probably an appropriate hangover for a season that monopolizes our Sundays for 6 months out of the year.
But before we all hang up the cleats for 6 months til the next season, I want to spotlight something that inspired me a few weeks ago. It was in the Chiefs that just won yesterday’s big game (sorry to any of you grieving Niner fans!), and it was their leader, Patrick Mahomes’ determination to put one foot in front of the other that shone more than a bright light on his athletic ability, but also on his ability to inspire greatness in his teammates.
You probably remember it if you were watching. The Kansas City Chiefs were facing the Houston Texans in a divisional playoff game that got off to a shockingly unexpected start. On the 6th play of the game, Texans QB Watson connected with receiver Stills for a 54-yard bomb down the field for a touchdown. On the very next play set, frustrated by an inability to generate any positive offense, Mahomes and the Chiefs were suddenly shaken up when their punt was blocked and Houston scooped the ball up for an easy defensive score.
A couple play sequences later, Houston was punting back to KC when kick returner Tyreek Hill dropped the return, allowing Houston to recover the ball and score again on the next play. A few plays after that, Houston kicked a field goal for another score.
Suddenly, in a matter of a few minutes, the Kansas City Chiefs were down 24-0. No small margin in the NFL, the Chiefs were now facing a bleak outlook. It would now take 4 trips down the field to catch up, assuming no more scoring from the opponent, neither of which Kansas City had been able to accomplish thus far. Their season appeared to be over before they could even get a chance to get anything going against a Houston team that had stepped into the game and punched the Chiefs right in the mouth at the opening bell.
But something interesting was happening.
Patrick Mahomes could be seen on the sideline encouraging and rallying his troops. He was walking back and forth shouting messages of positivity to his teammates, instructing them to put everything they had just experienced behind them and forget about it.
He wasn’t sitting down, hanging his head, lamenting about how he could have such poor luck right out of the gate of this playoff game. It wasn’t his fault that the last 2 touchdowns scored were due to mistakes by his teammates in plays where he wasn’t even on the field. It would have been completely understandable if he had been filled with anger at his teammates for their lackluster play thus far in the game. But was that his response? No.
In his post-game interview, Mahomes explained that he was encouraging his guys to “go do something special” and take it “one play at a time.” He knew there was a lot of football left, and he knew how good his team could be when they were at their best.
2 plays later, The Chiefs scored their first touchdown. On their next possession, they scored again. Then they forced a Houston fumble and scored again. On their next possession they scored again and took the lead, 24-28. But they weren’t done. They would score 2 more touchdowns before the stunned Houston offense could do anything. By the end of the game, Kansas City would put up 51 points in a commanding victory.
Asked after the game, wide receiver Sammy Watkins admitted thinking they had already lost the game before they turned it around, saying “A couple of times, I was like, ‘This is over.'” But his teammates Mahomes & Kelce encouraged him and made him believe. They showed him there was a plan.
And what was that plan? What do you do when the deck is stacked against you and clearly the cards are not falling your way? The solution is simple: One Play at a Time. You don’t dwell on the past, and you don’t dream about the future. You stay present, keep your head down, and you focus on what is immediately in front of you. You go to work.
Mahomes knew if he could get his teammates to focus on that simple instruction, they were talented enough to come back and win that game. He remained confident in his team’s abilities, he knew they had prepared appropriately for the match-up, and he knew that nothing had really changed if he zoomed out and took a bird’s eye view of the entire game. If they took it one play at a time, they could do something special.
And now they truly have. Congrats to the Kansas City Chiefs on winning their 2nd Super Bowl. They have a special player in Patrick Mahomes and we all hopefully have many years ahead of us getting to watch him showcase his leadership skills both on and off the field. One play at a time.