For all the back-forth-banter between their teams, there is apparently nothing but respect when it comes to Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow.
Mahomes made a point to find Burrow after the Chiefs' dramatic 23-20 win in Sunday's AFC title game. Mahomes' initial comments to Burrow were an indication of the respect the MVP has for his younger counterpart, and vice versa.
"Many more, dog, many more," Mahomes said while embracing Burrow. "Hell of a game. You have a hell of a career dog."
"You too, brother," Burrow said in response. "Go win it now."
To many more matchups between these two. 🤞 (via @NFLFilms)@PatrickMahomes | @JoeyB pic.twitter.com/nm9VuMTxcK— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2023
Mahomes-Burrow is well on its way to becoming this era's version of the personal rivalry Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shared for most of their careers. Brady and Manning faced each other five times in the playoffs. Brady's Patriots got the better of Manning's Colts in the 2003 and '04 playoffs, but Manning's Colts finally broke through in the 2006 AFC title game. Manning was 3-1 against Brady-led teams in conference title games during his run with the Colts and Broncos.
They may have been bitter rivals, but Manning and Brady also share a deep respect for each other that was on display during Manning's 2021 Hall of Fame speech. Brady attended the ceremony as a guest of Manning.
Another classic Manning-Brady moment.@TomBrady— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2021
📺: #PFHOF21 Enshrinement on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/r03kVcEBhw
It appears that Mahomes and Burrow share an equal level of respect. Burrow was the first person Mahomes mentioned when asked why the Bengals had had so much success against the Chiefs following Kansas City's Week 13 loss in Cincinnati.
"First off, they have a great quarterback, and a guy who's won a lot of football games, even if that was in college, and now he's won a lot of football games in the NFL," Mahomes said at the time. "He's someone that competes to the very end, too."
Burrow fought in vein to keep the Bengals' season alive on Sunday night. Down 13-3, he led a spirited comeback that included his 35-yard completion to Ja'Marr Chase on a fourth-down play. For a while, it appeared that Burrow was poised to lead another comeback win in Arrowhead after breaking Chiefs fans hearts a year earlier.
History wouldn't repeat itself, however, not after Chris Jones sacked Burrow on what was ultimately Cincinnati's final offensive play of the 2022 season. The sack set up the Chiefs' game-winning drive that was punctuated by Mahomes' gusty run on Kansas City's final offensive play.
Mahomes, 27, and Burrow, 26, have already played in four epic games -- and two conference title games -- that came down to the wire. But if the two are going to go down as the next legendary QB rivalry, they'll have to continue to meet each other in big games. That will require both the Chiefs and Bengals to continue to surround both quarterbacks with talented rosters.
The Chiefs don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Bengals also appear to be here for the long haul, given the franchise's newfound commitment to winning since drafting Burrow three years ago. That means that fans will likely be treated to more classic games between two quarterbacks whose careers may end up being intertwined together in history.