MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was struggling, and the Kansas City Chiefs were in huge trouble.
Until the young quarterback coolly brushed aside three-plus quarters of frustration and came through in the clutch, that is.
As he has already done so often in his young career.
“It’s Magic Mahomes,” tight end Travis Kelce said with a huge grin. “It’s Showtime Mahomes. He’s going to be himself no matter what the scenario. And, you know what? I love him. He willed this team back into the game.”
Mahomes threw touchdown passes on consecutive fourth-quarter drives to lead Andy Reid’s Chiefs to a 31-20 comeback victory and deliver the franchise its first Super Bowl title in 50 years.
“We never lost faith,” Mahomes said. “That’s the biggest thing. Everybody on this team, no one had their head down. And we believed in each other. And that’s what we preached all year long — and we had this guy (Reid) right here to get us there.
“And we found a way to get it in the end.”
The 24-year-old Mahomes was selected the game’s MVP after bouncing back from being intercepted on two straight possessions as the Chiefs’ title hopes seemingly slipped away.
“I was making a lot of mistakes out there early,” Mahomes acknowledged.
But trailing 20-10, Mahomes and the Chiefs suddenly got going — and didn’t stop until they stood in a confetti shower while passing around the Lombardi Trophy.
And it was the late-game performance of Mahomes that got them where Len Dawson last delivered the Chiefs in 1970.
“It’s not all Patrick, and he’ll be the first to tell you that,” Reid said, “but it’s a good place to start.”
Mahomes capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown toss to Kelce that made it 20-17 with 6:13 remaining.
There were already signs on that drive that Mahomes was on the verge of something special.
“Anything is possible with him,” fullback Anthony Sherman said.
On third-and-15 from the Chiefs 35, Mahomes found a wide-open Tyreek Hill 44 yards downfield for a first down that set up the score — the key play in the comeback.
“We were in a bad situation,” Mahomes said. “Tyreek made a really great play and that got us going there.”
On Kansas City’s next drive, Mahomes zipped the ball around — for 13 yards to Kelce and 3 to Hill, before tossing a perfectly placed rainbow pass to Sammy Watkins down the right sideline for 38 yards to get the ball to the 49ers 10.
Three plays later, Mahomes threw a 5-yard pass to Damien Williams, who reached over the goal line — and it stood after a video review — to put Kansas City up 24-20 with 2:44 remaining.
Mahomes flexed both arms in front of him and shouted in celebration, letting loose three quarters of frustration, sensing a Super Bowl title.
“We have heart,” Mahomes said. “That’s just from Day One. Coach pushes us to be the best people that we can be, and we never give up.”
After Kansas City stopped Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers on fourth down, Williams ran up the middle for 4 yards. Then he sealed the win by zipping 38 yards into the end zone for a 31-20 lead with 1:12 left.
It was reminiscent of the divisional round when Kansas City fell behind early against Houston before Mahomes led the Chiefs back from a 24-point deficit to pull off the greatest comeback in franchise history.
They weren’t in nearly as big a hole in this one, but the 49ers were making it tough all night for Mahomes to get in a rhythm.
“They’re one of the best defenses that I’ve been up against in my career so far,” he said. “We weren’t executing at a high enough level and when you play a defense like that, you’re not going to have success.”
Mahomes was intercepted by Fred Warner in the third quarter, and was picked off by Tarvarius Moore to short-circuit Kansas City’s next drive. It marked the first time Mahomes threw multiple interceptions in a game since Week 11 of the 2018 season against the Los Angeles Rams, when he tossed three in a 54-51 loss.
But Mahomes led Kansas City to its third straight comeback from a double-digit deficit in this year’s postseason.
“He kept firing, that’s what he did,” Reid said. “And the guys around him just believed in him. … Nobody lost their poise. They just kept rolling.”
Mahomes finished 26 of 42 for 286 yards and the two scores, and also had a 1-yard touchdown run against the 49ers.
“You know, Pat Mahomes, like I’ve been saying all year, man: I’ll take that quarterback over any quarterback,” defensive end Frank Clark said. “There’s none like him.”
On Feb. 6, 2013, a 17-year-old Mahomes tweeted: “I bet it feels amazing to be the quarterback who says ‘I’m going to Disney World’ after winning the Super Bowl.”
Well, Mahomes is the youngest player to be named The Associated Press NFL MVP and win a Super Bowl in his career. He’s also the youngest quarterback to be selected the Super Bowl MVP.
It was exactly this type of moment the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in 2017.
The confetti. The Lombardi. The joyful tears.
All with Mahomes leading the way.
“This fan base has accepted me since Day One and they’ve supported me to the maximum,” Mahomes said. “To get that trophy back to Kansas City is amazing.”