Best of frenemies: Maxx Crosby, Patrick Mahomes to meet again

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Friday, November 24, 2023

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Patrick Mahomes had enough of Maxx Crosby.

And Crosby, the Las Vegas Raiders' Pro Bowl edge rusher, was just getting started on Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs' All-Pro quarterback.

Frenemies, much?

Their burgeoning "mind games" rivalry played out on the Netflix series "Quarterback" earlier this year, and the series will add another episode Sunday, with the Raiders (5-6) playing host to the reigning NFL MVP and defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (7-3) at Allegiant Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).

"He was trying to do whatever he could, to kind of get in my head," Mahomes said in the series, referring to their Week 5 Monday Night Football meeting at Arrowhead Stadium last season, a game in which the Raiders jumped to a 17-0 lead. "A little push or a little shove. Wrap me up and hold me a little extra longer."

Mahomes even complained to referee Carl Cheffers that Crosby was "diving" at him.

"And then he kind of gave me one of those extra punches on the arm," well after the pass had been thrown, Mahomes said, a claim backed up by video.

Yeah, Crosby likes to not only get into opponents' heads, but also under their skin.

"Come on, dawg, I know what you're doing, but just chill out a little bit, you know what I'm saying?" Mahomes told Crosby. "Don't just punch me for no reason, dawg. I understand you touching me, but don't punch me, bro."

After one of Mahomes' four touchdown passes to tight end Travis Kelce that night, Mahomes sought out Crosby five times and screamed five times in succession at him, "I'm here all day."

Crosby's response? He sauntered up to Mahomes and gave him a slight headbutt.

"You woke up the wrong motherf---er," Mahomes yelled, five more times ... in a row. Though Mahomes edited his language to "gentleman" when he talked about the incident on the Week 10 "ManningCast" during "Monday Night Football".

After the final gun, and a 30-29 Chiefs win, guess who Mahomes sought out?

"Hey, you know I love you, dawg," Mahomes told Crosby. "Hell of a game. You're a f---ing baller."

So what should we expect this weekend from the frenemies?

"Both of them," Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson said with his eyes wide, "got an X factor to them."

And then some.

Even the Miami Dolphins prepped for Crosby's extra-curriculars last week.

As seen on the most recent HBO "Hard Knocks" in-season series, the Dolphins referred to Crosby as a "Tasmanian Devil" who "goes and goes and goes and goes."

So they had practice squad linebacker Quinton Bell, a draft classmate of Crosby's with the Raiders in 2019, mimic Crosby's harassment by bumping, pushing, grabbing and just generally needling quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in practice.

"That's a real look," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel told Bell.

Yeah, Crosby is starting to live rent free in opponents' domes.

"I had so many people reaching out, but I love it," Crosby said earlier this season of his interaction with Mahomes. "Honestly, it's cool that the fans kind of get to see the other side of it. Obviously, K.C. fans are like, 'F--- Crosby, he's this and that.' I really don't care. I love it.

"I'm going to keep going harder, so they're going to have to get used to it. But it is what it is. Honestly, that's who I am. Now they get to see it a little bit more up close. But I think it's incredible. It's cool. I was telling some of the people, I'm like, 'Y'all should mic me up for a whole year. It would be a straight crazy-ass documentary.'"

Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce, who played linebacker in the NFL with Washington and the New York Giants from 2001 through 2009, said he had a similar rivalry with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb.

Pierce recalled McNabb, in a runaway Eagles win, running out of bounds on the Giants sideline and picking up the telephone near the bench.

"And [McNabb] told our coordinators that we needed help down there on the field," Pierce recalled with a grin. "But it's alright, because we got them back the next year, we sacked him [12] times and I called his coordinator and his O-line coach, so it was fun. Good dude, man, very competitive player. It was always fun playing against Andy Reid and McNabb."

Reid was the Eagles' coach then. Now, he's taken the Chiefs to three Super Bowls, winning two, and Pierce will be matching wits with Reid, while Crosby and Mahomes have their own battle within the game.

But shouldn't a rivalry be less one-sided?

Consider: Since Crosby's NFL arrival, the Chiefs have won seven of eight matchups with the Raiders, and Mahomes has passed for 2,464 yards with 21 touchdown passes and two interceptions while completing 66.8% of his passes in those meetings.

Still, three of Crosby's four sacks against Mahomes, and three of his nine QB hits against the Chiefs QB, came last season. Games won by Kansas City by a cumulative 61-42.

Yet, there's a unique cycle in place, and Las Vegas may actually be due. Since 2014, after every Raiders win in the series, the Chiefs have run off five straight wins against them. The Chiefs are currently riding a five-game winning streak in the series.

Not that that matters much to the players, right?

"In reality, it's awesome getting to see Mahomes," said Crosby, who has 10.5 sacks. "The dude is a dog, there's a reason why he wins. That's the type of guys I want around me. That's why we compete. I know I'm one of the best, he's one of the best and that's what brings that competitive nature out of us.

"So, people getting to see that is pretty cool."

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