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Patrick Mahomes Shows Lamar Jackson Who the Real MVP Is in Chiefs' Statement Win

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 29, 2020

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) embrace after an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. The Chiefs won 34-20. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the NFL MVP in 2018. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won that award in 2019. Monday night presented an opportunity for either of the two youngest MVPs in modern league history to prove to the football world that he should be viewed as the sport's most valuable player right now.

Mahomes left no doubt.

In a commanding 34-20 Chiefs victory that was more lopsided than the score indicates, the reigning Super Bowl MVP was close to perfect. He completed 31 of 42 passes to eight different receivers and produced five touchdowns with his arm and legs in a dominant performance against a defense that ranked fifth in defense-adjusted value over average last year and was third in that same category entering Week 3.

Mahomes and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spent much of the evening essentially showing off. They moved the ball at their leisure, tinkered with trick plays and never looked intimidated in a prime-time matchup with a team that went 14-2 in 2019 and hadn't lost a regular-season game in nearly a calendar year.

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Mahomes counts to 4. As in NFL Top 100. Michael Jordan of the NFL https://t.co/xBwQu27LDD

If not for a third-quarter Darwin Thompson fumble and a turnover on downs on Kansas City's next drive, this could have been a blowout. Harrison Butker also surprisingly missed a field goal, Mecole Hardman had a quasi-drop in the end zone, and Baltimore's Devin Duvernay returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Still, the statement was made as the Mahomes-led Chiefs outgained the Ravens 517-228 by converting 10 of 13 third-down attempts in a game they controlled from start to finish.

Mahomes sliced up one of the game's best defenses while laughing at Baltimore's stubborn blitzing. He took zero sacks, averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and posted a 133.5 passer rating while rushing four times for 26 yards and a touchdown.

Gail Burton/Associated Press

He wasn't as prominent on the ground as Jackson, who picked up 83 yards on nine attempts, but his scrambles were smart, deliberate back-breakers. The touchdown broke the ice on Kansas City's opening drive, and two of the other three came on scoring drives, the latter a critical 12-yard gain on a fourth-quarter 3rd-and-10.

But the difference was all about what Mahomes did—and what Jackson failed to do—in the pocket.

Mahomes' three first-half deep completions to Tyreek Hill and Hardman were works of art, and he also hit Hardman's hands on what would have been another deep touchdown pass just before halftime (it wasn't a drop, but it was more than catchable). The offense became more conservative but remained creative in the second half (I mean, left tackle Eric Fisher caught a touchdown pass), and the damage was done.

On the other side, in one of the biggest games of his young carer, Jackson completed just 15 of 28 passes for 97 yards, or 3.5 yards per throw. Dropped passes were a problem beyond his control, but that doesn't excuse his shoddy performance through the air against a good but not unbeatable defense.

Robert Mays @robertmays

Lamar Jackson is great, and he's going to be just fine. But the way he's playing tonight points to another reason that Patrick Mahomes is different. He's never played a bad game. Lamar is at 2.3 yards per attempt tonight. Mahomes has averaged less than 6.0 in ONE game. Ever.

Jackson completed zero of his five attempts that traveled 15 or more yards in the air, one of which came when he underthrew a breaking-open Marquise Brown on a potential fourth-quarter touchdown that would have given Baltimore life. A few plays later, he took back-to-back sacks, and the game was essentially on ice.

Throw in the four sacks Kansas City recorded, and the Jackson-led Baltimore passing offense generated 70 yards on 32 dropbacks.

Mahomes has beaten Jackson in all three of their matchups. Jackson has completed just 52.6 percent of his passes in those games, while Mahomes has a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

That's a small sample for both players, but it reinforces the notion that Mahomes is simply more valuable at this stage. He has the Super Bowl MVP, a 106.6 playoff passer rating and monster wins on his record against Jackson's Ravens, Bill Belichick's New England Patriots and the Ben Roethlisberger-led Pittsburgh Steelers (to name a few).

Jackson's Ravens have also beaten Belichick's Pats as well as the 2019 NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, but he's lost both of his playoff games, he's got a postseason rating of 68.3, and he's disappointed in all three of his head-to-head battles with the league's other 25-or-under megastar quarterback.

Nick Wass/Associated Press

That doesn't mean Jackson won't ever become as valuable as Mahomes. He's 16 months younger, and he came into the pros with more work to do than most quarterbacks. His progress thus far is mind-blowing, and an argument can be made that his ceiling is even higher than that of Mahomes.

In fact, Jackson outperformed Mahomes in the process of earning MVP honors last year. But Mahomes is healthier now, and his Chiefs have won 12 consecutive games dating back to mid-November and his second game back after a knee injury.

Those bumps in the road might have cost Mahomes a shot at a second consecutive MVP award, but he showed Jackson and everybody else in the sports world Monday night that there's nobody more valuable right now than No. 15.

   

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.

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