SANTA CLARA — There’s a new guard when it comes to NFL quarterbacks. As Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers ride the final wave of their career, this weekend’s championship games will spotlight the league’s immense young talent under center.
Twenty-seven-year-old Patrick Mahomes is the oldest starting quarterback competing this weekend, as he’ll face off against 26-year-old Joe Burrow in the AFC Championship. Twenty-three-year-old Brock Purdy finds himself competing against 24-year-old Jalen Hurts again in the NFC Championship.
While this will mark their first head-to-head matchup in the NFL, Purdy’s Iowa State Cyclones lost to Hurts’ Oklahoma Sooners, 42-41, in a 2019 Big 12 shootout.
“It was a game,” Purdy said Wednesday. “Obviously there was a lot of points scored, it was almost like you had to score every single time you had the ball. Different situation and scenario than what we're about to go through on Sunday, but it was a fun college game. It was a great experience to go against Jalen and they had a great team, and he was making plays and I feel like we had to do the same to keep up and stay alive in that game as well, but this is a different situation, different scenario going into Sunday.”
Purdy was picked off during a two-point conversion with 24 seconds left, as the upset bid of the No. 9 Sooners fell short. A sophomore at the time, Purdy did his part, going 19-of-30 for 282 yards and five touchdowns through the air, while also rushing 15 times for 55 yards and another score. Hurts went 18-of-26 for 273 yards, three touchdowns and a pick while also rushing 22 times for 68 yards and two more scores.
Despite the loss, Purdy said putting together such a huge performance in front of 83,000-plus fans on the road helped him grow as a quarterback.
“Obviously, it sucked not getting the completion and the game being over, but yeah, that was that,” Purdy said. “In terms of the environment and everything, yeah, those kinds of games definitely helped, I feel like with just a lot being on the line, in the moment, focusing on what's in front of you, focusing on the defense rather than getting caught up in the crowd. I played in a couple of those games in college and I think that was just a great experience for me to go back to and remember how I felt, what was going through my mind, how did it affect my decisions. I definitely feel like I've grown from it and that I went through something like that.”
Purdy should be getting an earful from the Philly fans during Sunday’s contest and he’s ready for the noise.
“Everything in these kinds of games is all about communication,” Purdy said. “How can you operate smoothly, get in and out of the huddle, get the play off in the right way, make sure everyone's on the same page, so that's definitely a big emphasis this week just at practice with the little things, the details of communicating and being on point. And that starts with the cadence, so it's going to be huge for us.”