Just 18 month ago, Patrick Mahomes career was ascending like a rocket ship.
In just his fourth season in the league and third as a starter, he was in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year with a chance to repeat.
He was facing .the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team the Chiefs had beaten 27-24 a couple of months earlier with a chance to hand Tom Brady his fourth Super Bowl loss. And if Dee Ford hadn’t lined up offsides late in fourth quarter of the 2018 AFC title game to nullify a Brady interception, he would have been appearing in his third straight Super Bowl.
A second Super Bowl win in his fourth year and third year as a starter would matched the start of Brady’s career. Brady won two in his first four years in the league and third as a starter.
But then the wheels fell off for Mahomes and the Chiefs. They were routed 31-9 by the Bucs.
The Chiefs were missing two starting offensive linemen, had problems protecting Mahomes and their defense couldn’t stop Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl ring.
Then his woes continues last year when teams started taking away his deep passes by dropping eight players in coverage with two deep safeties.
It took more than half a season for Mahones to adjust before he threw 12 touchdown passes with one pick in last five regular-season games and then won two playoff games to move into the AFC title game for the fourth year in a row, matching a feat done only by Jim Kelly of the Bills.
And once they took a 21-3 lead over the Bengals in the AFC title game, Mahomes seemed destined to make the Super Bowl a third year in a row. That is a feat pulled off only by a the 1971-73 Dolphins.
But then things went south again for the Chiefs. In a candid interview with theringer.com, Mahomes admitted they started to play not to lose. And they lost in overtime.
As Mahomes enters his sixth season and his fifth as a starter, the question is where does he go from here, especially now that the Chiefs have traded Tyreek Hill.
And the Chiefs face a challenge in their division now that Russell Wilson is in Denver in a division that also includes Justin Herbert and Derek Carr. And Joe Burrow and Josh Allen are still in the conference.
There is no guarantee Mahomes will win a second Super Bowl, much less multiple titles.
Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Wilson are quarterbacks who won Super Bowls early in their careers. Favre never won another one and Rodgers and Wilson are still seeking their second.
Mahones may have raised expectations to an unrealistic level the way he started his career. Or maybe he is still destined to win multiple titles.
His quest to win more rings will be an intriguing challenge in the coming years.