Kansas City Chiefs win Superbowl: Chiefs are in Dynasty Mode

Kansas City Chiefs win Superbowl: Chiefs are in Dynasty Mode

Las Vegas—Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs routinely win postseason games after behind.

San Francisco 49ers learned this the hard way. The Chiefs defeated the 49ers after trailing by double digits midway through the fourth quarter four years ago. The Niners tried to forget it, but the lesson stuck.

Sunday, Mahomes tortured them even more.

In only the second Super Bowl to go into overtime, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 25-22 win against the Niners after erasing a 10-point, three-point, and three-point deficit. He won it after a thrilling 13-play drive that turned him into a one-man highlight reel.

Mahomes ran for two first downs and covered 27 yards while completing all eight throws. The final one was caught by wide receiver Mecole Hardman for a score, sending confetti and Chiefs players onto the field.

Kansas City become one of the sport's greatest dynasties with the win. They joined a small group of era-defining teams that includes only the mid-1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, the mid-1990s Dallas Cowboys, and two generations of the New England Patriots led by Tom Brady by winning a third title in five seasons.

“It was a microcosm of our whole season,” Mahomes remarked before Travis Kelce sang Viva Las Vegas.

The Chiefs become the first back-to-back champions since the Pats 19 years ago with Sunday's triumph. But getting there required rebounding from a very sluggish start, nibbling away at the Niners, and trusting their all-time quarterback to produce when it counted.

San Francisco took the first drive in overtime and went to the Kansas City 9-yard line before facing a crucial fourth-and-4 decision, knowing the Chiefs would receive the ball back under playoff overtime rules. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan kicked the field goal, believing his defense could stop Mahomes again.

Mistake by Shanahan. To join the elite group of three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Mahomes orchestrated one more stunning drive with the game on the line.

The game kept the fireworks for the finish, but this may be the glitziest Super Bowl ever. After Taylor Swift started dating Kelce and shared the spotlight at his games, the Las Vegas game was anticipated as a pop cultural supernova. The stadium's television screen showed Swift drinking her drink to entertain the audience.

Swift and many lower-profile Chiefs supporters would soon have reason to rejoice in Kansas City.

The Niners committed an incredible mistake that impacted the game despite their best efforts to stop the Chiefs attack all night. A punt return struck Darrell Luter as Ray-Ray McCloud was poised to grab it late in the third quarter, muffling it. Kansas City got the ball and Mahomes connected wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 16-yard touchdown to lead 13-10.

San Francisco was resilient. On the ensuing drive, Brock Purdy scored to reclaim the lead, but Mahomes was in charge.

This was surprising because the Niners' defense had shut down the Chiefs offense for most of the game. After Mahomes hit Hardman for a 53-yard gain in the first half, running back Isiah Pacheco fumbled the next play. One receiving yard in the first half equaled the amount of tantrums Kelce threw after confronting coach Andy Reid.

The 49ers failed to capitalize as the Kansas City attack stagnated. San Francisco took a 10-0 lead before halftime when wide receiver Jauan Jennings threw a touchdown pass to running back Christian McCaffrey.

Simply setting the scene for Mahomes to shine. He has won eight of 10 postseason games when trailing by at least seven points. Sunday's disappearance-reappearance made nine.

The season that cemented Kansas City's NFL legacy was not their best. Mahomes's weakest season since signing a league-record $500,000 deal in 2020 was his lowest in touchdowns and throwing yards. Kelce also struggled, earning his lowest yards since 2016. Chiefs dropped the most passes in the NFL.

Kansas City finished 15th in total scoring. Instead, the Chiefs needed a better defense to make the playoffs.

That unit showed up big when it mattered. The Niners' offense was a force all year, scoring third-most points in the NFL. Purdy led quarterbacks in yards per attempt, while McCaffrey changed the NFL's view of running backs.

While the offense sputtered, the defense kept the Chiefs in the game. Once the Niners led 10-0 midway through the second quarter, Kansas City didn't allow another score until late in the third.

“That was the toughest defense we've faced this year,” said San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan. "We had chances, needed two touchdowns, but we didn't."

Shanahan suffered three heartbreaking Super Bowl defeats. Four years ago, the Niners blew a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead. Seven years earlier, Shanahan was the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator when they fumbled a 28-3 lead over the Patriots. This time, the Niners led late in the fourth quarter and early in overtime, but they lost anyhow after a wild game.

The 49ers led by a score at halftime but felt they could have done better. Chiefs were scarce, clutching to the ropes.

San Francisco safety Ji'Ayir Brown intercepted a Mahomes throw on the Chiefs' 44-yard line on the second half's first possession, but the Niners lost 5 yards and punted. They scored again on a 10-yard Purdy-Jennings pass, but the Chiefs blocked the added point.

A 53-yard field goal within the two-minute warning gave the Niners another opportunity to lead 19-16. By then, a shocking fact of the contemporary NFL was dawning: Mahomes could close any margin.

“I hope people remember not only our greatness on the field, but how we did it,” Mahomes added. “It's not pretty, but we fight to the end.”

Photos by Wall Street Journal

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