Mahomes, Chiefs rule NFL

Posted 2/4/20

Quarterback Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs secured the organization’s first Super Bowl championship with a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Miami. The Chiefs posted 21 unanswered points in the final nine minutes to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the first of head coach Andy Reid’s career.

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Mahomes, Chiefs rule NFL

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Quarterback Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs secured the organization’s first Super Bowl championship with a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Miami. The Chiefs posted 21 unanswered points in the final nine minutes to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the first of head coach Andy Reid’s career.

The win means Texas Tech graduate Mahomes is now the youngest player in the history of the NFL to win both the league and Super Bowl MVPs. He is also just the third starting quarterback in league history to win the Super Bowl at the age of 24 or younger (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger). Mahomes turned 24 in September.

All three playoff victories had a similar theme for the Chiefs: comebacks. The team overcame a 10-point deficit midway through the fourth Sunday to reclaim their first first lead at 24-20 since the opening quarter. After a slow performance to start the night, Mahomes led two legendary drives with no room for error to give Kansas City an unlikely lead late.

In the Divisional Round Jan. 12, the Chiefs overcame a 24-0 deficit in the first quarter to win the game 51-31 over the Houston Texans. In fact, they had a 28-24 lead by the halftime break. They also trailed 10-0 in the first half to the the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship before fighting back for a relatively comfortable 35-24 win.

While the Niners may have entered as a more complete football team in terms of their overall roster, the Chiefs were slightly favored because of the lethal weapons and Mahomes’ capability to put up points in bunches. While the offense waited until the closing minutes to finally flex their muscles on one of the league’s top defensive units, the Super Bowl was no different.

A conservative first half on both sides resulted in a 10-10 tie before Shakira and Jennifer Lopez took the stage. The Niners seemingly would have had a chance to take a three-point lead with a short field goal as time expired, but a long completion from Jimmy Garoppolo to George Kittle was ultimately negated by an offensive pass interference call.

Fox color commentator Troy Aikman agreed with the call, and Kittle slightly extended his arm. However, it felt like a questionable decision to toss the flag considering the circumstances. The referees typically let small plays like that go during postseason contests.

The Niners were still able to build a 10-point lead in the third quarter with a pair of scoring drives. A completion to San Francisco fullback Kyle Juszcyk set up a one-yard Raheem Morris touchdown run to put the Niners up 20-10 late in the third. Juszcyk was also responsible for the team’s first touchdown in the second quarter.

The Niners appeared to be on their way to a special night when a tipped pass from Mahomes was intercepted deep in San Francisco territory by Tarvarius Moore. However, their highly-touted rushing attack could not put together a long enough drive to keep Mahomes on the bench and stifle the Chiefs down the stretch.

Mahomes saw his opportunity for greatness and did not disappoint. He led the Chiefs on back-to-back scoring drives of 83 and 65 yards, each lasting less than two minutes and 40 seconds. He sealed the drives with touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and Damien Williams.

The two touchdown strikes made up for a pair of interceptions and, along with a rushing touchdown in the first quarter, contributed to Mahomes’ MVP selection.

When the story of Super Bowl 54 is told, the 24-year-old’s late game heroics will rightly be the first topic covered. His two-possession comeback against the league’s best defense in the fourth quarter was reminiscent of Tom Brady’s performance to knock off the Seattle Seahawks and their 'Legion of Boom’ defense in Super Bowl 49. In fact, Mahomes and Brady are the only two people on the planet to lead a double-digit comeback effort for a victory in the final quarter of the Super Bowl (Brady did it again in Super Bowl 51 after trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-9 to start the fourth).

However, Kansas City’s defense and their performance to quickly usher off Garoppolo and the Niners offense to give Mahomes a chance can never be overlooked. They also forced a turnover on downs to allow Williams to secure the title with a 38-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left to play.

All in all, the Chiefs defense played at a high level throughout their nine-game win streak. The offense has been in championship form since Mahomes became the starter before last season, but the Lombardi would have been impossible to attain without a dramatic change on the defensive side of the ball.

The talk of “The Next Great Dynasty” almost always follows the conclusion of a Super Bowl (unless it’s Brady and Bill Belichick winning another and further solidifying theirs). Usually, the talk is overblown. Many in the media pegged the Philadelphia Eagles as “The Next Great Dynasty” after winning Super Bowl 52.

While Philly has made it back to the postseason in each of the years since, they have produced just 18 total regular season wins and a 1-2 playoff record.

Another prime example is Aaron Rodgers and the 2010 Green Bay Packers, who defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl 45 in Dallas. Rodgers was a 27-year old Super Bowl MVP fresh off his third season in the league as a starter, leading the Packers to the Lombardi as a six-seed (this has not been accomplished since) and more players on injured reserve than any team in the NFL.

While Rodgers is still one of the league’s top quarterbacks, he has not led the Packers back to the Super Bowl since. I am not trying to pin Green Bay’s postseason shortcomings on one player, but it takes a lot to reach the promised land once let alone multiple times.

The Chiefs will certainly be favorites to hoist the Lombardi again in Tampa Bay next year, but there is never a sure thing in football.

Regardless of what the future holds, Reid and the Chiefs are finally a Super Bowl champions. Reid, who spent 13 seasons in Philly, had won more games without a championship than any coach in NFL history.

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