As N.F.L.’s Quarterback Guard Changes, Patrick Mahomes Wins Second M.V.P. Award

PHOENIX — Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, won his second Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday night, for his work in perhaps the most challenging season of his career, cementing himself as the leader of a new wave of talented young quarterbacks.

Mahomes is the first Black quarterback to win the league’s highest individual honor twice, having previously won the award after the 2018 season, his first as a starter.

In the past 20 seasons, the award has been won by the generation-defining quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers 12 times, with no other player repeating as M.V.P. With the retirements of Manning, in 2016, and Brady this season, Mahomes leads an emerging class of young passers defining the N.F.L.

He beat out four other finalists for the award: quarterbacks Jalen Hurts of the Eagles, Josh Allen of the Bills and Joe Burrow of the Bengals, as well as Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, who won the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Most football pundits might have granted Mahomes, 27, a pass if his play had regressed this season.

Kansas City traded Tyreek Hill, one of the most dynamic receivers in the N.F.L. to the Miami Dolphins in March after contract negations fell apart. According to ESPN, Hill and Mahomes connected for 46 touchdowns from 2018 to 2022, a number surpassed only by Rodgers and Davante Adams in Green Bay.

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While Mahomes’s talent has been evident since he took over the starting spot in 2018, he arrived with a near-perfect situation for quarterback success: throwing to Hill, whose speed helps beat most coverages; teaming with arguably the league’s best tight end in Travis Kelce; and working under the creative offensive play calling of Coach Andy Reid and the offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Mahomes also had a year to sit behind quarterback Alex Smith to learn the offense as a backup.

With Hill’s departure before this season, Kansas City brought in five new receivers, including JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Steelers and Marquez Valdes-Scantling from the Packers, and the team juggled their usage early in the season as the offense shifted and injuries cropped up.

Despite the roster changes, Mahomes led the league in passing yards (5,250, a career high) and touchdowns (41), aiming scoring throws at 11 different receivers over the season. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 14-3 record and the top seed in the A.F.C., en route to the team’s third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons.

“Bruh, he’s competitive. He’s not your average individual,” Bieniemy said while shaking his head in a recent interview. Bieniemy pointed to Mahomes’s getting new receivers up to speed before the season and calling him at random hours of the night to review plays.

Perhaps Mahomes’s best performance of the season was in the A.F.C. championship game win over the Cincinnati Bengals, who have been a persistent roadblock for Mahomes and Kansas City. The Bengals had prevailed in their last three matchups, pressuring Mahomes into uncharacteristically poor decisions while Burrow gained prominence — and a Super Bowl berth last season — in part because of his success against Kansas City.

Mahomes was hobbled with a sprained ankle the week before, but he managed 326 passing yards and two touchdowns, and Kansas City won, 23-20, to advance to the Super Bowl. After Kansas City’s win, Mahomes and his teammates quickly responded: “We showed this place is Arrowhead. It’s not ‘Burrowhead’ out here,” Mahomes said after the game, referring to comments made by Bengals players before the matchup.

Mahomes’s remark was a rare public boast, and it came after a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. With Brady retired and Rodgers reportedly pondering his own, a new generation of quarterbacks will battle and trade M.V.P. Awards as those two did for much of their careers.

In the A.F.C., there is quarterback talent aplenty with the Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Burrow, among others. But even with that deep talent pool, Mahomes has been a step ahead of the rest, with the road to the Super Bowl having to go through him and Kansas City each season.

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