TAMPA — Patrick Mahomes left Raymond James Stadium with a huge sense of relief.
It’s not that the big victory the Kansas City Chiefs scored before a primetime audience on Sunday night — complete with a magical highlight from the wondrous quarterback on a 2-yard TD pass — erases their setback on the same field in Super Bowl 55. But at least Mahomes and some of his teammates dropped off a bit of lingering baggage from the super bashing inflicted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Then there was the more recent history. Kansas City was eager to find its way and bounce back from its only loss of the season, a week earlier at Indianapolis.
Chiefs 41, Bucs 31.
“It was a relief to play this well against this defense,” Mahomes told USA TODAY Sports. “That is a heck of a defense. To be here makes it even more special because the last time we left this field it was one of the worst times of my entire life.”
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The Bucs still have the rings won with Super Bowl 55, but the performance by the Chiefs on Sunday was another significant step in moving forward. Putting up 417 yards and five TDs against a defense that pulverized Mahomes in the Super Bowl and entered the game allowing a league-low 9 points per game — and yes, most of the starters from Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl defense were on the field this time around — had to provide quite a confidence boost.