After the Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson showdown on Thursday Night Football to kick off the 2020 NFL season, the two young NFL stars look to be kicking off a long-term rivalry in the AFC. After three matchups so far, where does the Mahomes-Watson rank all-time among quarterbacks?
There have been many great quarterback rivalries throughout the NFL’s first 100 seasons. Manning and Brady duked it out in the AFC for 15 years. The Steve Young and Troy Aikman saga defined the NFL in the 90s. Numerous QBs in the 70s and 80s fought tooth-and-nail with each other in competitive bouts.
But in a new era of quarterback play, there are some young, budding rivalries that are sure to put on a show every time they play each other. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are one of those rivalries.
The First Matchup
Mahomes and Watson first met during Week 6 of the 2019 season. With both teams starting the season as playoff-hopefuls, the competitive fire was clear from the beginning.
Mahomes and Watson threw for a combined 553 yards, with Mahomes dropping 3 TDs and 1 INT vs Watson’s 1 TD and 2 INTs. Mahomes and the Chiefs dominated the first quarter, while Watson’s Texans dominated the 2nd quarter.
Ultimately it came down to the run game that earned the Texans a victory, rushing for a combined 192 yards while only allowing 53 rushing yards from the Chiefs. The match up was an exciting one, but nothing compared to some of the shootouts both QBs had been apart of.
The Divisional Round for the Ages
The biggest match up by far of the Mahomes-Watson rivalry came in the 2019 AFC Divisional Round. The Texans came into Arrowhead Stadium with an explosive Chiefs team fresh off of a playoff bye waiting for them.
The game started out disastrous for the Chiefs, with numerous turnovers and mistakes allowing the Texans to lead 24-0 at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. However, this was only the beginning of an action-packed game.
After multiple quick drives down the field and a few key Texans mistakes and turnovers, the Chiefs reeled them in and went into half time leading 28-24. Stunned, Watson and his offense fizzled out the rest of the game, with the Chiefs defense showing up time and time again during key moments.
Mahomes ended the game with 321 yards and 5 TDs to Watson’s 388 yards and 2 TDs. A high scoring 51-31 finish and the birthplace of the Chiefs historical playoff run, the Divisional Round match up proved to be one of the best games of the year, and of the Mahomes-Watson rivarly.
The last of the Mahomes-Watson match ups (so far) came just recently, with the QBs facing off on Thursday Night Football to kick off the 2020 NFL season. Coming off of a Super Bowl MVP performance, Mahomes and the Chiefs were ready to Run It Back at home vs the Texans.
After allowing a Texans TD, Mahomes and the offense came alive, scoring 31 unanswered points and lighting up the Texans defense both through the air and on the ground. The Chiefs offense was simply too much to handle for the Texans defense, and the Chiefs defense showed that they are just as good as the offense.
Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s impressive rushing debut left the Texans scrambling, and Mahomes ended the game with 211 yards and 3 TDs to Watson’s 253 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. In the end it was a bit of a mellow game, with the Chiefs keeping the offense pretty simple and the game being pretty much over by the 3rd quarter.
Ultimately, while Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson have had some great match ups, so far they don’t even hold a candle to some of the all-time great quarterback rivalries. The playoff battle was the most exciting, but there hasn’t necessarily been a major Manning-Brady-esque championship showdown between them yet.
They’re both young, however, and both guys recently signed contract extensions that will keep them in the AFC for years to come. If the Texans can stay a consistent playoff team, and the Chiefs can stay the Chiefs, this could be a rivalry that is talked about for the next decade.