No matter which way the possible Super Bowl matchups shook out, one thing was for certain: The age gap between quarterbacks was going to be substantial.
Youth dominated the American Football Conference (AFC), with Patrick Mahomes, 25, and Josh Allen, 24, dueling it out in Arrowhead Stadium. Their combined age is only six years older than Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who is 43.
Brady was set to face off with Aaron Rodgers, 37, and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The National Football Conference (NFC) sent two of the oldest quarterbacks in the league out (New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, 42, was eliminated by Brady a week earlier), while Allen and Mahomes represent the youth movement among quarterbacks in the league.
Brady and Rodgers dueled it out in a game that saw Packers’ head coach Matt LaFleur elect to kick a field goal on 4th and goal with just over two minutes left in the game to cut it to 31-26. The Packers never got the ball back. Brady was pedestrian at best, throwing for three interceptions. But the Buccaneers defense made enough plays to eke out the road victory.
The victory propels them into Super Bowl LV, which will be played in Tampa Bay. This marks the first time an NFL team has played the Super Bowl, which is at a random, predetermined site, in their own stadium. Will they make history and win a “home” Super Bowl?
On the AFC side, the result was not as close. After the Bills capitalized on some early Kansas City miscues and jumped out to a 9-0 lead, the Chiefs scored 21 points in just over 10 minutes and never looked back. The final score was 38-24, sending the Bills home early after their first division title since 1995. Allen threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns but had a costly red-zone interception while trailing by two touchdowns early in the 4th quarter. Mahomes, who suffered a concussion against Cleveland and spent most of the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol, threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
As for the Super Bowl, Brady will, naturally, be the oldest player to play in the Super Bowl. He’s the most accomplished player to ever set foot on an NFL field. Six Super Bowl victories, 10 (counting this one with Tampa Bay) Super Bowl appearances, four Super Bowl MVP awards, 14 Pro Bowls and three MVP awards line his mantle.
With the pace at which Mahomes is playing, which includes a Super Bowl title, a Super Bowl MVP, three Pro Bowls and an MVP award in just three seasons, some see him as the heir apparent. They also see him as the biggest threat to the records and accolades that Brady has.
Brady continues to defy all logic by playing at a high level at age 43. Mahomes seems to defy logic with the type of passes he makes with relative ease. Underhand, no-look, sidearm, and even passes with his offhand, all fill out his repertoire.
It might seem like one of these players is past his prime, but this Super Bowl is likely to teach the class on quarterback play. The only question is: Will the student become the teacher?