NFC East Reporter
LAS VEGAS — Patrick Mahomes was frustrated, harassed and mostly shut down by the San Francisco 49ers for the first 58 minutes of Super Bowl LVIII. But all he needed was a few more minutes to remind everyone why he might end up as the greatest quarterback of all time.
Mahomes put together one of the most spectacular finishes in Super Bowl history Sunday night, leading the Kansas City Chiefs on a game-tying field goal drive in the final two minutes of regulation and then a game-winning drive on their first possession of overtime. And when he hit Mecole Hardman with a 3-yard touchdown with three seconds left, the Chiefs had won Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium, 25-22.
Mahomes was spectacular at the end. He went 5-for-8 for 57 yards on the game-tying drive and then 8-for-8 for 42 yards on the game-winning drive. He also kept the drive alive by rushing eight yards for a first down on fourth-and-1 and then 19 yards on a third-and-1 that got the Chiefs to the 49ers’ 13.
Mahomes finished 34-for-46 overall for 333 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, winning his third Super Bowl MVP. The Chiefs solidified their place as the NFL’s next dynasty with their second consecutive Super Bowl championship and their third in the last five years.
Mahomes celebrated by sprinting like mad into the end zone, then wheeling around and heading all the way back to Kansas City’s sideline, where he collapsed on the yellow-painted turf in what seemed to be elation and a bit of disbelief.
“This is awesome,” Mahomes said. “Legendary.”
The Chiefs are the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the Patriots in 2003 and ’04, and their third championship in four trips over the past five years puts them in rarified air.
Asked whether they had achieved dynasty status, Mahomes replied: “It’s the start of one.”
At age 28, Patrick Mahomes now owns three Super Bowl rings in four appearances, including three Super Bowl MVP awards. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
Not that the 49ers made it easy.
Brock Purdy (23-for-38, 255 yards, one touchdown) had San Francisco in position to win twice. He led them down the field to an eventual Jake Moody 53-yard field goal that put the 49ers up 19-16 with 1:53 remaining. And then, after the 49ers won the overtime coin toss, he rode the back of Christian McCaffrey (80 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards) to another Jake Moody field goal that put the Niners up 22-19 with 7:22 left in overtime.
But by then, Mahomes was in a grove, picking the 49ers defense apart with a series of short passes and timely runs. It put a capper on a remarkable second half and overtime in which the Chiefs battled back from a 10-3 halftime deficit as they finally kicked their offense into high gear.
The wild finish certainly couldn’t have been predicted by the ugly start to this game. There were four fumbles between the two teams in the first half alone. And that started right on the first drive when it looked like the 49ers were moving down the field with ease, right up until McCaffrey lost the ball at the 25-yard line.
He was hardly alone, though. Early in the second quarter, Isiah Pacheco fumbled the ball away inside the 49ers’ 10. That was part of a terrible start from the once proud Chiefs offense, which produced just three punts and that fumble in their first four drives.
The 49ers weren’t doing a lot better until Kyle Shanahan dug into his bag of tricks midway through the second quarter. From the Chiefs’ 21, he had Purdy throw a backward pass to Jauan Jennings, who took a long pause before throwing way back across the field to McCaffrey. McCaffrey caught it, weaved through traffic and darted upfield for a 21-yard touchdown and a 10-0 San Francisco lead.
Mahomes was unflappable on the game-tying drive in regulation and the winning drive in overtime. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
It was 10-3 at the break, but the second half didn’t start any better for the Chiefs. Pacheco fumbled on the first play, and even though the Chiefs recovered, they didn’t hold the ball for long. Mahomes was picked off by 49ers rookie Ji’Ayir Brown on his second pass.
But the 49ers couldn’t capitalize. They went three-and-out on their first three second-half drives, which opened the door for the Chiefs to pull within 10-6 when Harrison Butker nailed a Super Bowl-record 57-yard field goal — three yards longer than the record field goal Moody kicked earlier in the game.
That, though, only set the stage for the wild finish, which started near the end of the third quarter on a Chiefs punt. The kick ricocheted off the left leg of 49ers cornerback Darnell Luter, forcing Ray-Ray McCloud to try to pick it up. But he couldn’t, and the Chiefs recovered at the 49ers 16.
One player later, Mahomes found a wide-open Marques Valdes-Scantling in the end zone, and the Chiefs had their first lead of the game at 13-10.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who had a game-high nine catches for 93 yards, gets a postgame kiss from his girlfriend, pop icon Taylor Swift. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
That woke the 49ers up, because their next drive was a beauty — 12 plays, 75 yards in just over six minutes. They scored when Purdy hit Jennings coming across the middle of the field, and he broke a tackle attempt by Chiefs corner L’Jarius Sneed at the 3 to score a 10-yard touchdown.
But Leo Chenal blocked the extra point — a huge play since it kept the Chiefs within field goal range. And sure enough, they marched right back down and tied the score on a 24-yard field goal by Butker with 5:46 left in the game.
Mahomes prevailed. The NFL has found no answer for him this season, or last season. It will try again next season.
“Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs,” Mahomes said. “Just know that.”
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Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
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