Patrick Mahomes was 5 years old when Tom Brady made his NFL debut. That hasn’t stopped the pair of all-time greats from facing off a handful of times as professional quarterbacks.
Brady and Mahomes meet for the fourth time in Week 12 when the Chiefs (9-1) travel to take on the Buccaneers (7-4) in the first such matchup with Brady in Tampa Bay. Widely considered the greatest quarterback ever, Brady could have some competition down the road from Mahomes if the 2019 Super Bowl MVP stays healthy and keeps up his torrid early-career pace. Essentially the whole country will see this game Sunday on CBS at 4:25 p.m. ET, a look at the past, present and future of the QB position in the NFL.
Before the fourth matchup, we’ve broken down the numbers of Brady and Mahomes’ careers to see how they compare, along with taking a look back at the first three times these stars have met on the field.
Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: The GOAT vs. The Future GOAT?
Brady’s greatness isn’t only about the Super Bowl rings on his fingers, but it all starts there. Brady has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy six times, a level of top-of-sport supremacy that equals Michael Jordan in the NBA.
But Brady’s ability and longevity also play a part in his GOAT case. He had that 50-touchdown pass season when paired with Randy Moss in 2007, when New England went 16-0 in the regular season. Brady’s currently in the midst of bouncing back and forth for the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown record with Drew Brees. Once upon a time a sixth-round pick out of Michigan, Brady’s won over even most of the strongest Patriots haters, who at least acknowledge the impressiveness of his long career that’s taken him to age 43 and still cooking.
Mahomes has been a full-time NFL starter since 2018 after being a first-round pick the year prior, and he’s already blown a lot of minds with the crazy throws he both attempts and completes. Mahomes threw 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter to win the 2018 MVP award. Then he led the Chiefs to the 2019 Super Bowl championship. Brady beat Mahomes to that punch, winning a Super Bowl in his second NFL season, but Brady didn’t win an MVP until his seventh season as a starter.
It’s hard to project exactly how long Mahomes would have to keep his greatness up to truly enter into the territory of Brady’s resume. He’d of course have to win more Super Bowls, because winning just one more puts him with the same number as Peyton Manning, a Brady contemporary who’s maybe his superior as a passer but not as a winner. Mahomes’ potential GOAT case would likely need to see him approach a full hand full of rings.
Statistically, with the NFL becoming a more pass-happy league each year and Mahomes already off to a running start relative to Brady, Mahomes could wind up the most prolific passer ever. To expect Mahomes to play until he’s 43 is probably a bit much, but let’s give him through an age-40 season for the sake of the math. That’s 15 more years. We’ll throw in a full season worth of missed games spread out over time, and we’ll give Mahomes his current rate of production.
Factoring in six more games for Mahomes this season, Mahomes would throw 577 more touchdown passes, right in the ballpark of where Brady and Brees will be for their careers by the end of this season. But you’d add that 577 to the 103 Mahomes has already thrown to get 680, a mark Brady/Brees surely won’t get to. Now that might be a generous scenario of health and production rate for Mahomes, but he’s got some wiggle room to still throw 600 touchdowns.
What was the point of that exercise? To show that Mahomes is on a historically great pace. Maybe he won’t keep it up, but he sure passes the eye test as maybe the most gifted passer ever, and the longer he does it, the more he’ll start to pass the resume test, too.
Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes stats
Brady and Mahomes have met three total times in the NFL. Brady is 2-1 in those meetings, including with a win in their lone postseason encounter. The recaps of those matchups below have listed in chronological order.
Oct. 14, 2018: Patriots 43, Chiefs 40
This was a highly anticipated Sunday Night Football Game. The Chiefs entered at 5-0 with Mahomes taking the league by storm, and the contest lived up to its billing.
New England took solid control early, rushing out to a 24-9 lead. Mahomes led a comeback to a 33-30 lead before Brady ran for a touchdown to take the lead back. Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game after a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, but Brady got his kicker one final chance for the game-winner as time expired.
Mahomes stats: 23-36, 352 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions
Brady stats: 24-35, 340 yards, one touchdown passing, one touchdown rushing
Jan. 20, 2019: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31 (AFC championship)
This should’ve been the game that got the NFL’s overtime rules altered. A back-and-forth affair was sent to OT by a Harrison Butker field goal with eight seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, New England won the coin toss. There’s one way to keep Mahomes from never touching the football again in that scenario, and that’s to score a touchdown. The Patriots did just that, capping off their drive with a Rex Burkhead two-yard plunge to walk-off into the Super Bowl (which Brady won for his sixth ring).
Mahomes stats: 16-31, 295 yards, three touchdowns
Brady stats: 30-46, 348 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions
Dec. 8, 2019: Chiefs 23, Patriots 16
The Patriots entered this game as three-point favorites, and they jumped out to a quick lead on a 37-yard touchdown from Brady to Julian Edelman. But then the Chiefs scored 23 unanswered points which included a 48-yard touchdown from Mahomes to Hardman along with a Travis Kelce rushing touchdown.
New England scored the game’s final nine points, but it wouldn’t matter since the Chiefs had so thoroughly dominated after the opening salvo.
Mahomes stats: 26-40, 283 yards, one touchdown, one interception
Brady stats: 19-36, 169 yards, one touchdown, one interception
Overall tale of the tape
Brady has won two of the first three matchups against Mahomes, although Mahomes won the most recent one and Brady’s last time against the Chiefs with the Patriots. Here’s how the stats break down in their first three head-to-head showdowns.
Patrick Mahomes: 65-107, 930 passing yards, eight passing touchdowns, three interceptions
Tom Brady: 73-117, 857 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, three interceptions