Super Bowl star: Mahomes leads Chiefs to comeback 25-22 win over 49ers for 3rd ring


Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the Kansas City Chiefs used the glitzy occasion of the first Super Bowl played in this gambling haven to reemphasize that they have become the NFL’s surest bets while adding to their ever-growing collection of glittery championship hardware.

The Chiefs remained at the NFL’s pinnacle, even in a season in which they often did not resemble their usually dominant selves. They beat the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22, in an overtime thriller here Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Super Bowl LVIII.

“We battled to the very end,” Mahomes said. “That was a microcosm of our season.”

Mahomes’s three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mecole Hardman with three seconds remaining in overtime won it for the Chiefs. The 49ers had taken a 22-19 lead on rookie kicker Jake Moody’s 27-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime. But the Chiefs moved down the field on the second possession of overtime and reached the end zone for only the second time in the game.

Kansas City had forced the overtime with a tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation. Mahomes had a third-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and kicker Harrison Butker provided four field goals.

With pop-music superstar Taylor Swift cheering from a stadium suite in support of her boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the third time in the past five seasons. Mahomes, at 28, further cemented his standing among the NFL’s all-time quarterbacking greats, and Reid added to his coaching legacy before facing questions about whether he would seize this opportunity to retire at the peak of his profession.

“It’s a little bit surreal. … It’s a great win because I know how hard it is to do and how hard the season was,” Reid said.

The Chiefs left no doubt that they have joined the procession of NFL dynasties. They played in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons. They have been to six straight AFC championship games. They have replaced the New England Patriots of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the sport’s standard of unyielding excellence. They became the NFL’s first repeat Super Bowl champions since the Patriots did so in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Reid turns 66 next month. He faced retirement questions at this Super Bowl, one year after saying in the aftermath of last season’s Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that he would not retire then. But it would be hard to walk away from this. As long as the Chiefs have Mahomes at quarterback, it seems no one should wager against them. If Reid coaches on, he could be in line for a contract extension and a raise.

This season brought a bumpier ride than usual for the Chiefs. Mahomes was not in the thick of the league MVP conversation. He and Reid allowed their frustration to show when the NFL disciplined them for their conduct toward game officials. Kelce battled injuries. There were glaring deficiencies at wide receiver. The Chiefs were the AFC’s No. 3 playoff seed and had to go on the road for the postseason.

But they persevered. They’re still the Chiefs, after all. Rookie wideout Rashee Rice emerged in the season’s latter stages. Mahomes and Kelce found their grooves. Reid pushed the right buttons. And the best defense of the Mahomes era did much of the heavy lifting.

The Chiefs hit their stride with road victories over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs and over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. They remained on a roll Sunday by defeating the 49ers in the Super Bowl, just as they beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV four years earlier in Miami Gardens, Fla.

This Super Bowl underscored the 49ers’ inability to reconnect fully with their glorious past. They have gone without a Super Bowl victory since the 1994 season. It is becoming a legacy of exasperating near misses for Coach Kyle Shanahan and his team, with four appearances in the past five NFC championship games but no Lombardi Trophies to show for it. They have lost two Super Bowls and two NFC title games over that span.

Shanahan also was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons when they squandered a 28-3 lead and lost, 34-28, in overtime to the Patriots in the Super Bowl seven years ago in Houston. He failed Sunday in his bid to join his father, Mike, as a Super Bowl-winning coach.

This 49ers team benefited from the stunning transformation of quarterback Brock Purdy from being the final player chosen in the 2022 NFL draft to be a Pro Bowl selection and MVP contender this season. Tailback Christian McCaffrey was the NFL’s offensive player of the year. The roster was about as talented as it gets, particularly on offense with left tackle Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle, and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

But still, the 49ers were second-best. It is the frustrating reality of playing in the era of Mahomes and the Chiefs.

“We’re hurting right now … [but] it’s part of football,” Shanahan said. “It’s part of sports. It’s part of life.”

The 49ers had the upper hand early. They outgained the Chiefs 125-16 in the opening quarter. But it was scoreless because of the Niners’ mistakes. McCaffrey lost a fumble on their opening possession, and Williams committed a false start and holding penalties on consecutive plays to stall their second drive. They broke through on a 55-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jake Moody in the opening minute of the second quarter.

The Chiefs, after punting on their first two possessions, had a scoring opportunity on their third drive, thanks to a 52-yard completion from Mahomes to Hardman. But tailback Isiah Pacheco lost a fumble on a first-and-goal run from the San Francisco 9-yard line. The Chiefs were getting nothing done on offense, and Kelce had a first-half sideline outburst in which he bumped into Reid while venting his frustration.

The 49ers upped their lead to 10-0 with a gadget-play touchdown by McCaffrey. On a second-and-10 play from the Kansas City 21-yard line, Purdy threw a backward pass to his left to wide receiver Jauan Jennings. Jennings threw the ball back across the field to McCaffrey, who wove his way into the end zone. The Chiefs finally broke through with Butker’s 28-yard field goal 20 seconds before halftime.

Mahomes threw an interception to 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown on the third snap of the second half. The Chiefs failed on a third-and-one run and then punted on their next possession. But Butker’s 57-yard field goal on their next drive got them to within 10-6. The 49ers muffed a punt later in the quarter. The Chiefs recovered, and on the following play, Mahomes threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Valdes-Scantling.

The 49ers responded with Purdy’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Jennings early in the fourth quarter, soon after a fourth-and-three conversion from the Kansas City 15-yard line. The Chiefs blocked the extra point. Butker’s 24-yard field goal tied the game at 16 with 5:46 to play. Moody connected from 53 yards with 1:53 remaining. But a 22-yard completion from Mahomes to Kelce set up Butker’s tying 29-yarder with three seconds left in regulation.

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