LAS VEGAS – The NFL has a repeat champion for the first time in 19 years. The Kansas City Chiefs, with a third Super Bowl win in five seasons, cemented their status as the league’s modern dynasty with a 25-22 overtime victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Vegas.
This one, like the last two for Kansas City and its superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, came with a stirring second-half comeback and, this time, some overtime heroics.
Jake Moody’s 27-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime put the 49ers ahead 22-19, but the Chiefs responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive and won it with a 3-yard touchdown pass. from Mahomes to Mecole Hardman. .
It was just the last must-play play for Kansas City, a team that has built a reputation behind Mahomes as the most dangerous when it holds the ball last. The Chiefs trailed 19-16 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter when they drove 75 yards in 11 plays and Harrison Butker kicked a 29-yard field goal. The key play in the drive came on third-and-7 with 16 seconds left, when Mahomes hit Travis Kelce on a snap for a 22-yard gain that set up the Chiefs for the easy kick.
It is the fourth Super Bowl victory for the Chiefs franchise and the third for the team under coach Andy Reid, who joins Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs in a tie for third most all time. Only Bill Belichick (six) and Chuck Noll (four) have more.
“Number three is a big number in terms of dynasties,” Kelce said this week, adding that he wanted to win this Super Bowl more than any of the previous three he had played in. Winning three titles in a five-year window puts the Chiefs in a different conversation, one that includes some of the best streaks in league history.
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Mahomes earned his third Super Bowl MVP with 34-of-46 passing for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, resulting in a passer rating of 99.3. He joins Tom Brady (five) and Joe Montana (three) as the only players to win three Super Bowl MVP awards.
The championship also elevates Mahomes (a remarkable 15-3 in the playoffs in his six-year career) to elite company: He is now one of five quarterbacks in league history to win at least three Super Bowls. , joining Brady (seven), Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three). Aikman and Mahomes, 28, are the only ones to have won three before turning 30. Over the last two postseasons, Mahomes has gone 7-0, throwing 13 touchdowns and just one interception.
When CBS announcer Jim Nantz mentioned at the postgame podium that the Chiefs were underdogs in the final three games of this postseason, Mahomes said, “Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never the underdog. I just know that.”
Kelce added: “We couldn’t have gotten here without having that goal on our back all year. Now we have the opportunity to do it three times in a row.”
It’s a devastating loss for the 49ers, and particularly for coach Kyle Shanahan, who adds another chapter of Super Bowl heartbreak to what otherwise would have been a stellar career. As Atlanta’s offensive coordinator in 2017, Shanahan was on the wrong end of the biggest blown lead in Super Bowl history, when the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to upset the Falcons in the only another championship game that went to overtime. . Sunday’s loss is Shanahan’s second as head coach in the Super Bowl; Four years ago, the 49ers blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, eventually losing 31-20.
San Francisco’s championship drought is now at 29 seasons. After winning five Lombardi Trophies in a 13-year span from 1982 to 1995, the 49ers have lost in all three of their trips to the Super Bowl since then (after the 2012, 2019 and 2023 seasons).
Before this year’s Chiefs, the last Super Bowl champion to successfully defend their title was the 2004 Patriots. What had become routine in the early decades of the Super Bowl era (there were eight repeat winners in the first 39 editions of the game) became nonexistent, a byproduct of greater parity across the league and an indication of how demanding the Super Bowl races are. can.
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The title caps an impressive late-season surge for Kansas City, which endured its worst regular season since Mahomes became the starter in 2018. Plagued by an unusually inconsistent offense, including a league-worst 44 drops by its receivers , the Chiefs were just 9-6 after a loss to the Raiders at home on Christmas Day. It looked so terrible that Kansas City general manager Brett Veach was left wondering if his team would make the postseason.
“You see it every year,” Veach said this week, “a team gets off to a good start and doesn’t make the playoffs.”
But the Chiefs would not lose again all year, finishing the regular season with a pair of wins before making it four straight playoff wins. What began with frigid temperatures in Kansas City, a wild-card win over the Dolphins in the fourth-coldest game in NFL history, continued with two gutsy road wins in Buffalo and Baltimore (the first true road wins in the Mahomes’ playoff run) and culminated in Sunday’s comeback in Las Vegas.
It’s the most unlikely title of the Chiefs’ current run, not simply because of their regular-season struggles but because of the intense attention that has dogged the team for most of the year. Kelce’s relationship with pop superstar Taylor Swift became a phenomenon in itself, and his appearances in games during the regular season and playoffs (it reached all four during Kansas City’s postseason run, including Sunday’s Super Bowl after a Saturday show in Tokyo) became one of the biggest stories in sport.
When asked what he’s learned about the celebrity crush in recent months, Kelce smiled and offered this in the week leading up to the game: “That being famous around the world is a lot different than being famous in Kansas City.”
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On Sunday, the 49ers controlled the first half by taking over the trenches, particularly when the Chiefs had the ball. San Francisco’s punishing defensive line constantly forced Mahomes out of the pocket, sacking him twice and regularly forcing him into hurried throws. In turn, the Chiefs’ offense was never in sync, managing only a late field goal to cut San Francisco’s lead to 10-0.
The Chiefs finished with just 16 yards in the first quarter, compared to 125 for San Francisco, and couldn’t get Kelce involved. Kelce caught an early one-yard bubble screen, his only target during the game’s first 30 minutes.
After kicker Moody scored what was then the longest field goal in Super Bowl history (55 yards in the first quarter), the 49ers scored the first touchdown of the game with 4:23 left in the second quarter when Wide receiver Jauan Jennings, following a throw from Purdy, hit McCaffrey for a 21-yard catch-and-run score. It was a brave, creative play by Shanahan, and the first touchdown pass of Jennings’ three-year career.
San Francisco led 10-3 at halftime and frustrated Kansas City. CBS cameras caught Kelce clashing with Reid on the bench during a tense exchange.
His chances didn’t look any brighter after the opening drive of the third quarter, when Mahomes threw his first interception of the last two postseasons.
But the game changed after a critical error by the 49ers in the third quarter, when returner Darrell Luter Jr. fumbled a punt at the San Francisco 35-yard line. The Chiefs’ Jaylen Watson recovered, and it took Mahomes quite a play to capitalize: He hit receiver Márquez Valdés-Scantling for a 16-yard touchdown a moment later.
Suddenly, after being outplayed all game, the Chiefs were ahead. History was repeating itself.
Jennings caught the 49ers’ second touchdown of the night with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter, but after a blocked extra point, the Chiefs were able to tie the game with a subsequent field goal that capped a 12-play, 69 drive. yards. drive, before winning it in overtime.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said during the Lombardi Trophy presentation: “One of the most exciting Super Bowls I’ve ever seen.”
(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)