Mahomes & Burrow: Quarterbacks that are Spontaneously Innovative
The AFC Championship Game this Sunday will feature two of the brightest young star quarterbacks in the entire NFL when Joe Burrow travels to face Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium.
Both quarterbacks have made the news this week, highlighting their innovation under pressure. Starting with Burrow, apparently his headset went out for multiple plays in the Bengals 19-16 victory over the AFC's top-seeded Tennessee Titans. And, in front of nearly 70,000 loud fans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Burrow called multiple plays by himself. According to him, each one worked.
Burrow said he's never been in that position before, but he added that it was an exciting experience. In a close game, every play matters. If you've ever heard of the term "coach on the field/court" as a way to describe a smart player, I can't think of a much better example than that. Burrow might have to pull off some more incredible plays against his next opponent, because we saw something similar in the other AFC Divisional Game last weekend.
After Bills quarterback Josh Allen led a stunning touchdown drive to give Buffalo a three-point lead with only 13 seconds left, the Chiefs had timeouts and two shots to get into field goal range.
They gained 19 yards on the first play, took a timeout, and then something ridiculous happened. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce went to Mahomes to point out the coverage that the Bills defense was using, and that a route down the seam may be open for a big play. Mahomes responded "catch the ball and go down immediately," knowing they had another timeout to stop the clock.
Finally, before the play, Mahomes yelled to Kelce, "Do it, Kelc," and the 25-yard completion set up the field goal that tied the game and sent it into overtime. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on the first possession and moved on, but that on-the-spot change between Mahomes and Kelce was pivotal in the win.
Burrow has already said that he expects that Chiefs fans and crowd noise will be a factor in the AFC Championship Game, but he's confident that the Bengals will be able to handle it. He might have to make some big plays by himself again if there are any issues with Cincinnati's communication in a rowdy stadium.
"I think crowd noise will always be a factor," Burrow said. "It's just whether you're efficient with your non-verbal communication and how you handle it. We've been really good at handling it the entire year, and we're going to look to continue that this week."
These two quarterbacks are already both talented, but their ability to adjust and innovate offensive plays if something goes wrong is what should make this championship game a fun one.