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Patrick Mahomes Got Help From Chiefs Trainers and Teammates to Win His Second Career Super Bowl

Kansas City is once again atop the NFL world, but even a one-of-a-kind ‘Superman’ QB couldn’t do it all on his own.

The game had been over for almost four hours, and Andy Reid made his way through the lobby of the team hotel, with the Chiefs’ party picking up steam an easy Patrick Mahomes throw away. Every few feet, someone was stopping the coach—outfitted for the Scottsdale night in a Hank Stram-style blazer emblazoned with the K.C. arrowhead, bright red tie and pocket square—for a handshake, hug or a congrats, and it continued as he and his wife, Tammy, made their way past a set of ropes and into a VIP area, and well into the evening.

The sheer volume of well-wishes underscored something significant on the evening Reid won his second Super Bowl, and that something kept showing up after the game.

Earlier, in a locker room choked out with cigar smoke and soaked in sprayed champagne, Chiefs VP of sports medicine and performance Rick Burkholder, sitting on a folding chair, generated a similar scene simply by pulling assistant athletic trainers Julie Frymyer and David Glover close, to explain how Mahomes made it through Super Bowl LVII after reaggravating the high ankle sprain he initially suffered three weeks earlier.

“That’s Julie—the famous Julie,” said Burkholder, pointing at Frymyer, who led the QB’s rehab. “And David, David did Juju [Smith-Schuster]’s rehab. I wanted them to be there.”

Just then, Mahomes showed up and hugged Frymyer so hard he pulled her off the ground.

You don’t need Vince Lombardi to tell you that the Chiefs are here, Super Bowl champions for the second time in four seasons, in large part because of what Reid and Mahomes bring to the organization. It’s obvious, and the markings of it are all over the Kansas City operation.

And yet, to get this one, and outlast an Eagles team that came in firing on all cylinders and played an exquisite first half, it was always going to take a lot more than just that.

Simply because the Eagles were so good, it would take everyone and, in the end, it was everyone who wound up turning a 24–14 halftime deficit on its head and positioning the Chiefs to hang in, hang in, hang in, then start landing the haymakers needed in a 38–35 win. Which is why, when I sat with Reid in his small, cramped office off the locker room at State Farm Stadium, just after the win, he mentioned Mahomes first, but didn’t stop there.

“Listen, I thought Pat played well,” he says, almost matter-of-factly. “I thought the offensive line stepped their game up. I thought [Isiah] Pacheco ran hard, got the run game going. Our defense got a couple stops that were big, real big, and we were able to capitalize on at least one of those, which was important.”

In a game where the margins were razor thin, all of it was important.

And all of it is why the Chiefs are champs again.

Patrick Mahomes holds the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LVII.

Mahomes has a lot of people to thank who helped him lift this trophy for a second time.

The season’s over! But that doesn’t mean we’ve got any less for you in the MMQB column. In this week’s column, you’ll find …

• A lot more on the Super Bowl, including my takes on the officiating and the field situation.

• What the Chiefs and Eagles have to take care of this offseason.

• Plenty from the coaching carousel.

• What teams should take from the Super Bowl rosters in readying for the draft.

All that is in my Ten Takeaways (well, more than 10), but we’re starting with an incredible Chiefs run that figures to keep going for a while, because of Mahomes, Reid and a lot of other folks, too.

Order SI’s Chiefs Super Bowl Championship Commemorative Issue

Over the first 30 minutes of the Super Bowl, the game actually looked like a mismatch, and not in favor of the team that wound up winning it. The Eagles outgained the Chiefs 270–128. They had a 17–6 edge in first downs, a 21:54-to-8:06 advantage in time of possession and had run 44 plays to Kansas City’s 20. They had roughly doubled up the AFC champs in both passing yards and rushing yards.

But the Chiefs found a way to hang in on the strength of a six-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession and Nick Bolton—one of the night’s stars—capitalizing, when the ball slipped from Jalen Hurts’s hands as the quarterback tried to switch it to his outside arm on a simple draw play.

“Chris [Jones] kind of confused the O-line a little bit,” Bolton says. “That play, [Eagles center] Jason Kelce pulled and left me and Chris out there, three people for two offensive linemen. So I was able to be unblocked and I got through to the quarterback. He tried to switch hands, had it in his left hand but tried to switch to his right. I was able to get my hand through, and then the ball’s on the ground, scoop and score. Fun way to get in the end zone.”

Bolton wound up gathering the ball—snapped on third-and-5 at the Eagles’ 49—at the Philly 36 and easily taking it to the house from there. The Eagles went from looking to go up 21–7 to being tied at 14. Even then, Philly would get back on its horse, and Hurts would make big league throws on drives of 12 plays for 75 yards and eight plays for 40 yards that resulted in a touchdown and a field goal to close out the half.

Even worse for the Chiefs was what happened between those possessions, on a third-and-15 that ended their final drive of the first half. On the play, linebacker T.J. Edwards ran down Mahomes, scrambling to his left, from behind and, as Mahomes’s right foot stuck in the grass, Edwards’s weight pulled the quarterback to the ground. By the time Mahomes got up, he was writhing in pain, having reaggravated the old injury.

It looked bad. But quickly, the Chiefs were able to assess just how bad.

“He got caught,” Burkholder says. “And one of the beauties of the NFL is we have video on the sideline, and I was able to tell him, ‘Listen, you got caught, but it wasn't as bad as the first one.’ And he said ‘Oh, no, no.’ And I said, ‘Are you going to be all right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ Those high ankle sprains, even when you're coming back in practice, and he had a couple episodes in practice over the last couple weeks, you tweak it and it’s like 10 minutes till it calms down. And then it’s seven minutes, and then it’s five minutes.

“Tonight it was about five minutes, and then we had the long halftime, which helped us, but we didn’t really do a whole lot with him; he just gutted it out.”

And, Burkholder says, there was a reason on that video for it—he looked at which way Mahomes’s right foot twisted on the play, and it didn’t go outside, which was good news.

“You look to see when the ankle goes that way, and it didn’t go very bad,” he says. “But it caught him. It’s like biting the inside of your cheek. And it looked like that.”

Just then Burkholder caught Mahomes hugging Frymyer.

“There he is,” Burkholder says. “He’s hugging her. That’s his girl. She’s the main one.”

Mahomes stays down on the ground after reaggravating his ankle injury in the second quarter of Super Bowl LVII.

Mahomes went down in the second quarter, but he gutted it out without treatment on his ankle at halftime. 

Frymyer’s relentless work with Mahomes over the past couple of weeks helped to get him to the spot where he landed at halftime Sunday: hobbled but confident he could roll.

Because of the aforementioned episodes in practice, and the ups and downs of the past three weeks, the MVP quarterback’s ankle was pretty battle-tested. Still, there was another level that Burkholder and Frymyer wanted to take Mahomes, and the Super Bowl MVP asked the trainers to get him there Thursday and Friday. The idea was to push him harder than he’d be pushed with a singular goal in mind.

“Confidence,” Burkholder says. “That ligament won’t heal any faster than God wants it to. So what [Frymyer] does, she attacks everything around it so that he’s in a good spot, gets his glutes firing, makes sure his hips are mobile and his knee’s over his toes and all that. He wanted to try it out Thursday; [he] looked pretty good on Thursday. Friday, he was amazing. And then today, he just gutted it out. He’s a phenomenal athlete. Just has no quit in him.

“I knew he’d never be 100% because the time of the healing wasn’t there. But it was tough to see any difference in him Friday. Now, after he got hurt here, you could see a little bit.”

But by the time he got to the locker room and Burkholder approached him, Mahomes flat-out refused treatment—“Rick, I’m fine,” he said.

“He just wanted to be left alone,” Reid added. “Those high ankle sprains, you tweak them and they hurt like heck. And then you gotta kind of let it calm down a little bit. And some guys can handle it, and some guys can’t. And so we started warming [backup QB Chad] Henne up, obviously before the half, but he was able to push through the pain, which is unbelievable.”

So instead of sitting on a table in the trainer’s room getting shot up or taped, Mahomes was one of the leading voices delivering a very clear message at the half.

“Our message at halftime was to be us,” Bolton says, “but be us a little better than we were.”

And then Mahomes set out the directive.

“It was, Don’t panic,” quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy says. “And then it was go out there and get a touchdown the very next time we get out there, in the third quarter.”

Balky ankle and all, Mahomes hobbled out there. The Chiefs ran it three consecutive times for 23 yards, behind Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon, then Mahomes got the ball to Travis Kelce and Justin Watson for another 23 on chain-moving throws, scrambled for another 14, on the supposed bum wheel, and Pacheco wound up scoring from a yard out to cap the 10-play, 75-yard march.

Just like that, the Chiefs had cut the deficit of a game that the Eagles controlled completely for the first 30 minutes to 24–21.

The next big play for the Chiefs would again come on defense, and again from Bolton.

On the other end of a possession that started with the linebacker having another scoop-and-score, this one overturned on review, the Eagles were facing third-and-11 from their own 20. Kenneth Gainwell was split left, motioned in and came all the way across the formation, with Hurts hitting him just after the snap, and after he’d gotten a full head of steam. The trouble for Philly was Bolton was following it like a heat-seeking missile.

He tracked Gainwell into the right flat and immediately dropped the back after a five-yard gain to leave Philly kicking a field goal (Jake Elliott nailed it from 33 yards) to push the Eagles’ lead to 27–21. The stop mitigated the damage of a pair of massive third-down connections between Hurts and Dallas Goedert, and that’s where the game really swung, with a pair of Chiefs touchdowns to follow within three minutes of each other.

The two scores—the first capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive, the second cashing in a big punt return from Kadarius Toney—came on different play calls, but there were similarities between the two. One came from the five-yard line, the other came from the 4. Both featured receivers motioning inside, then breaking outside. Both were on third down. Each was scored by a guy who’s new enough to have not even been around for the skill-position retreat to Texas that Mahomes took his teammates on before the offseason program opened in April.

One key difference, Reid says, is that “the first one, that was a run play we scored on—he can either hand off there, or see the corner and throw it.” On the play, you can see Mahomes watching Darius Slay go with Toney as Toney motioned, seeing that Slay would be caught going the wrong way before snapping the ball, at which point Toney snapped back outside, Slay lost him completely and Mahomes made the easy throw for a touchdown.

“It’s an RPO,” Reid says.

It also gave the Chiefs their first lead, which they’d extend shortly thereafter by forcing the Eagles’ only three-and-out of the game (K.C. also had just one three-and-out) and putting Toney back there for the punt return to bring one back 65 yards to the Philly 5. Three snaps later, it was Skyy Moore’s turn. The rookie motioned in on third-and-3, carrying Avonte Maddox with him inside, then breaking outside into a vast swath of open grass.

“They were in a look where they just got out-flanked, and you could see there was a little bit of confusion and getting picked, and then he’s just wide open,” Nagy says. “And sometimes that’s hard to see as a quarterback. But Pat got the vision on both of [the short touchdown throws]. It’s hard to get that many guys to be that open in those plays.”

“If they were going to play man coverage like that, we took advantage of that with our short motion and, really, the motion made the plays,” Moore says. “So we knew how they passed their motion once they played man coverage, and we took advantage; it just works every time.”

Moore smiled. Toney, standing right next to him, laughed.

“I know when I saw him catch the ball, I ran 100 miles per hour to get there,” Toney says. “I was tired as hell. I was trying to celebrate.”

And Mahomes gave the Chiefs that chance to do it, with a rookie and a guy who joined the team a couple of days before Halloween, scoring to, wildly enough, put K.C. up 35–27.

Philly did have one more rally in it, with an impressive eight-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game back up. Hurts found DeVonta Smith wide open for 45 yards, then took the ball in, and ran for both the touchdown and the two-pointer (an octopus, for all you prop bettors) to tie it. But that left the Chiefs with 5:15 on the clock, and Mahomes running the show.

You know what happened next.

Patrick Mahomes and Kadarius Toney celebrate after the touchdown that put Kansas City up for good in Super Bowl LVII.

Mahomes and Toney celebrate after the touchdown that put Kansas City up for good in Super Bowl LVII.

The first five plays of the Super Bowl’s final full possession were machinelike—Pacheco run, Mahomes’s finding Smith-Schuster, Pacheco run, Mahomes’s finding Kelce, Pacheco run—and moved Kansas City from its own 25 to the Eagles’ 43 with less than three minutes left.

Then, we all saw just how O.K., and gutsy, Mahomes was. And Burkholder will admit now that he was holding his breath as the quarterback saw man coverage, with defenders with backs to the ball, and a spy (Kyzir White) who’d come too far up the field to have a chance at getting back to Mahomes if Mahomes just tucked it and ran it. Mahomes tucked it and ran it. Twenty-six yards later, the Chiefs were well within Harrison Butker’s range.

“I was, for two reasons,” Burkholder says. “I wanted to win the game, but I also worry he was going to get caught from behind and not be able to finish, because that’s how you get hurt. But he defies the odds.”

For the record, White did wind up tracking down Mahomes from behind, at the Philly 17. It was one of the few times they did catch him, as the offensive line allowed zero sacks to a team that had 70 of them this season.

The long gain flowed right into the controversy to follow. The Eagles got the Chiefs and Mahomes into third-and-8. On that play, Smith-Schuster got his jersey tugged on by James Bradberry as he was coming out of his break. Maybe the ball Mahomes threw was going to be a touchdown. Maybe it wasn’t. Either way, the flag was more valuable than a touchdown would’ve been since it preserved the Chiefs’ ability to run out the clock.

McKinnon understood that when he slid to end a nine-yard gain, and stay inbounds, as did Reid with the two kneeldowns to follow.

Butker then hit a 27-yarder, and that was it for the NFL season.

Back in that haze of that locker room, Chiefs president Mark Donovan stood by the doorway, asked what Mahomes has meant to his franchise. Donovan arrived from Philadelphia, where he’d worked with Reid, in 2009, so he’s seen all ends of it and, before answering the question, wanted to walk over to Mahomes so the quarterback could hear it.

“It’s night and day—night and day,” Donovan said. “He’s a franchise-changer. I mean, think about where we were [in] 2009, ’10, ’11, ’12. Not a lot of people wanted to be in Kansas City, working for this team. Not a lot of players wanted to be here, playing for this team. We bring Andy in, we draft [Mahomes]; there are a lot of people begging me to be on this team right now. And that showed today.”

It showed in, again, the sheer number of good people the Chiefs have, from across the staffs of Reid and GM Brett Veach, and over to the business side and on to the roster. Guys such as Kelce and Jones want to go nowhere. Free agents such as Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Reid are coming in for less money. Rookies, with designs on being around for a while, are developing in the background.

But the honest truth is, still, a lot of it is the quarterback.

“I’ve been so lucky in my career to have all these guys,” Reid says. “I played with them; when I was at BYU, I played with Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Marc Wilson. I come to coach college and I get a bunch of good quarterbacks. I come to the pros and I get all these good quarterbacks. And now I got this guy who’s unbelievable, and he might end up being the best of them all, when it’s all said and done.

“He hasn’t been doing it very long, but what he’s done is unbelievable.”

And as for what he did in playing through the injury Sunday?

“He was able to push through it and go,” Reid continues. “He’s just as close to Superman as we’re going to see.”

He is, of course, for doing what he did Sunday. But all the people around him are pretty good, too.

Which is just one more reason why, in pro football, he, and they, again stand alone.