For two years, Patrick Mahomes has been the centerpiece of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive explosion. He’s produced highlight reels full of no-look passes, elusive scrambles and darts to streaking wide receivers downfield. He’s thrown 50 touchdown passes in a single regular season, overcome a brief knee injury and won an NFL MVP. Now, he's also a Super Bowl champion.
While the Kansas City star quarterback played far from his best on Sunday, the Chiefs outlasted the 49ers 31-20 to win Super Bowl LIV. Mahomes threw for 286 yards and totaled three touchdowns, making timely plays throughout the fourth quarter to rally past the Niners, who led throughout the majority of the second half.
The 49ers got on the board first as kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 37-yard field goal with 7:57 to go in the first quarter. But the Chiefs would take their first lead of the Super Bowl on the ensuing possession.
No coach went for it on fourth down fewer times than Andy Reid in the regular season, but he broke free from his season-long trend on a fourth-and-1 from the 5-yard line. The Chiefs converted, and just three plays later, Mahomes scored the first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard scamper.
San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo committed the contest’s first turnover less than a minute into the second quarter, throwing an interception on what appeared to be a throw-away pass with his eyes closed. But the Chiefs could only score three points following the mistake, even after converting their second red-zone fourth down of the game.
But like he had all season, Garoppolo responded to his interception. His team evened the game with 5:05 to go in the quarter when he hit fullback Kyle Juszczyk for a 15-yard touchdown.
Coming out of the half tied at 10, the Niners orchestrated an efficient nine-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a go-ahead field goal. Mahomes threw his first career playoff interception on his team’s first second-half possession, grossly under-throwing the speedy Tyreek Hill. And San Francisco turned Mahomes' first mistake into a touchdown—its third consecutive score to grab a 10-point lead.
A second Mahomes interception one Kansas City series later didn't translate directly into any points, but it was indicative of the struggles the 2018 league MVP had against the vaunted Niners defense. The 49ers had the league’s best pass defense in the regular season, giving up only 169.1 yards per game, and largely limited the Texas Tech product. But Mahomes and Hill, who led the Chiefs with 105 receiving yards, were tough to hold down. By the end of the night, the QB would take home the game's MVP trophy.
Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 6:13 to go in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs their first points of the second half. Following a key defensive stop, Mahomes led what played out to be a Super Bowl-winning drive, capped off by a 5-yard toss to running back Damien Williams.
Kansas City's defense held the 49ers near midfield on the game's next possession. And on the second play after the turnover on downs, Williams broke through the Niners' front for a 38-yard touchdown to ice the game. A Garoppolo interception with 57 seconds to play finished any last-gasp chances. The Niners QB completed 20 of his 31 pass attempts for 219 yards and one touchdown.
Including this season, the Chiefs' franchise had made 18 playoff appearances since its last Super Bowl appearance—its 50-year Super Bowl drought being the second-longest of any NFL franchise. One of the league’s marquee franchises, Kansas City had watched for decades as AFC teams had brought home the trophy named after its founder and longtime owner. Chiefs Kingdom had waited and waited and waited.
So, too, had its head coach. Reid’s 14 career playoff wins were the most of any coach without a Super Bowl ring. But behind the play of Mahomes, the likely future Hall of Fame coach has ousted himself from the aforementioned category.
Last year, the Chiefs were four inches short of a Super Bowl appearance, a crucial offsides penalty potentially being the core difference from history being re-written. An overtime home loss cost them a shot at a title. Mahomes made sure Sunday would be different.
The clinical passer is not only a league MVP, but now forever a champion.
More SI Super Bowl LIV Coverage
* Michael Rosenberg: Patrick Mahomes Is Here To Stay
* Conor Orr: After Years of Heartbreak, Chiefs Are Champions
* Conor Orr: Shanahan Absorbs Gut-Punch Super Bowl Loss
* Kalyn Kahler: Reaction From the Niners' Stunned Locker Room
* Charlotte Wilder: Super Bowl LIV Was One Giant Spectacle
* Gary Gramling: Takeaways: Rainbow Connection Saves K.C.