At 27, Patrick Mahomes has already carved out a career that is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. During the Chiefs‘ 27-20 divisional round playoff win over the Jaguars, Mahomes, who returned to Saturday’s game after sustaining an ankle injury in the first half, further solidified his status as an all-time great while setting yet another NFL record in the process.
Mahomes became the first quarterback to lead his team to five conference title games before the age of 30. Mahomes has led the Chiefs to an AFC title game each year since becoming the team’s starting quarterback in 2018. He helped the Chiefs punch their ticket back to the AFC title game Saturday after throwing for two touchdowns while playing through the injury.
By virtue of Saturday’s win over Jacksonville, Mahomes, who is already the first player to win both league and Super Bowl MVP before his 25th birthday, broke the record he previously shared with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady. He also would join Brady and Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler as the only quarterbacks to make five straight conference championship game starts if he is cleared to play next Sunday.
Bradshaw was under center for Pittsburgh for four AFC championships over a five-year span from 1972-76. At age 30, Bradshaw won league and Super Bowl MVP while leading the Steelers‘ run to a then-record third Lombardi Trophy. Bradshaw, who went 4-2 in conference title games, then won a fourth Super Bowl and second Super Bowl MVP the following season.
Like Bradshaw (who was briefly benched during the Steelers’ first Super Bowl run), Aikman overcame humble beginnings before reaching the mountaintop. He went 0-11 as the Cowboys‘ starter during his rookie season as Dallas went 1-15. Three years later, Aikman won Super Bowl MVP honors as Dallas won the first of its three Lombardi Trophies over a four-year span. Over that span, Aikman led Dallas to a 3-1 record in conference title games.
Ironically, Brady was Mahomes’ first counterpart during his first AFC title game start. The youngest quarterback to win three Super Bowls (27), Brady also made four AFC title game starts before turning 30. Like Bradshaw, Brady’s age 30 season included a league MVP as well as a AFC Championship Game win. That season also included the Patriots‘ heartbreaking loss to the Giants that prevented them by becoming the NFL’s second perfect team.
It’s safe to say that Brady bounced back from that defeat. Starting in 2011, he led the Patriots to a whopping eight straight AFC title game appearances. The Patriots won five of those games while winning three more Super Bowls over that span. Brady then made his 13th title game start during his first season in Tampa. He won his seventh Super Bowl title and fifth MVP that season while leading the Buccaneers to a victory of Mahomes’ Chiefs.
It’ll take some time to catch Brady’s title game record, but Mahomes is now just two wins away from joining Brady, Aikman and Bradshaw as a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, a feat that would ultimately help him get one step closer to Canton, Ohio.