MIAMI — With the Kansas City Chiefs trailing the San Francisco 49ers by double digits in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV, Patrick Mahomes was tasked to with a daunting mission. No starting quarterback in league history had ever led three such postseason comebacks. But once again, Mahomes showed he is unlike any other quarterback that has graced the NFL.
The second-year starter threw two touchdown passes in the final six minutes to beat the 49ers, 31-20, at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday night and give the Chiefs their second title in franchise history.
With the victory, Mahomes became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl and a league MVP (a feat he accomplished in 2018). He also became the youngest quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP.
When the Chiefs took possession down 20-10 in the fourth quarter, those accomplishments seemed unlikely. San Francisco’s defense had played as well as advertised, constantly attacking Mahomes and forcing two interceptions in the third quarter.
“I didn’t play to my liking in that third quarter,” Mahomes said. “But the guys believed in me and gave me confidence.”
Facing a third-and-15 with seven minutes remaining, the Chiefs needed Mahomes to replicate the same magic he had showed earlier in their postseason run. He had already led the team to double-digit comebacks in their two previous playoff wins against the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans.
So Mahomes did just that. He moved out of the pocket and threw a 44-yard strike to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, then followed it up with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce to pull Kansas City within three points of the lead.
“You knew those guys had their ears pinned back and they were going to be rushing,” Mahomes said. “I think the offensive line gave me enough time to throw a really deep route and Tyreek made a really great play.”
The Chiefs’ defense, who got trampled by the 49ers’ run game through the first three quarters, buckled down and forced a three-and-out with five minutes left on the clock, giving Mahomes a chance to cement his legend.
After Mahomes zipped a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins, he threw a five-yard touchdown to running back Damien Williams. The Chiefs fans in the crowd let loose a roar as their team took a 24-20 lead with less than three minutes to play.
“It’s magic Mahomes,” Kelce said. “He’s going to be himself no matter what the scenario is.”
The 49ers failed to convert a fourth down on their next possession and handed the ball back to the Chiefs. Two plays later, Williams broke up the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown run that put the exclamation mark on Kansas City’s first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Mahomes threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown. Williams rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Hill caught nine passes for 105 yards.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo bested Mahomes early but faltered late. With 57 seconds remaining, he threw an interception to Kansas City cornerback Kendall Fuller that sealed the Chiefs’ win.
Kansas City’s offense retook the field, and Mahomes threw the ball in a long arc as the final seconds ticked away. Confetti shot out as the Chiefs embraced one another, knowing their city can finally rejoice after decades of waiting.
“Just to be here is surreal,” Mahomes said. “We’ll enjoy this for a long time.”
Ryan McFadden is a student in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism master’s degree program. He is covering the Super Bowl as a representative of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.