The Bucs aren’t strangers to playing top level quarterbacks. Drew Brees is a Super Bowl MVP that they play twice a year, Matt Ryan is a former league MVP that they play twice a year, and Tampa Bay also played against Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers this season, who is considered one of the best this game has ever seen.
But on Sunday, the Bucs will face a new challenge playing against Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the first time since he entered the league. At just 25-years old, Mahomes is a bona fide superstar in the NFL. He’s already won a league MVP and a Super Bowl MVP, as he makes fascinating play after fascinating play that many quarterbacks couldn’t even think of doing. This season Mahomes has continued his dominance, leading the league with 3,305 passing yards and coming in at third with 27 touchdowns on the way to a 9-1 record.
That’s why playing against the best of the best is an opportunity that defenders like Jason Pierre-Paul relish.
“He’s at the top of quarterbacks right now,” Pierre-Paul said. “I live for moments like this. He’s an athletic quarterback, he’s going to scramble, he’s going to extend the plays with his legs. Those are the types of quarterbacks I live for and it actually challenges me to see where I’m at physical-wise and mentally, but mostly physical. I’m up for the challenge, I’m up for any challenge.”
Pierre-Paul should see a lot of Mahomes because he hates coming off the field. He played in 70 of 72 snaps in Monday night’s game – the most by any pass rusher on the team. Pierre-Paul has even butted heads with his coaches over his desire to stay in games.
“My coach always tells me, ‘I need you to get a little bit of rest.” Pierre-Paul said. “Reality is, when is the time to rest when you’re playing football, especially when you’re trying to win a game? Me personally, I’m not going to come out unless I feel like I need to come out. I think me and my coach bump heads a little bit with that – he’s always trying to look out for me – but I’d rather stay in because I know in the heat of the moment, anything can happen in just those couple of seconds.
“I understand where he’s coming from, but at the end of the day, it isn’t promised tomorrow that you’re going to get another snap. Like I said, I’m always going to leave it out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 snaps or if it’s 50 snaps – you’re going to see me giving it all out.”