Sunday, February 25, 2024

Chiefs defeat 49ers in OT of Super Bowl to cement dynasty status

LAS VEGAS — The NFL has a repeat champion for the first time in 19 years. The Kansas City Chiefs, with a third Super Bowl triumph in five seasons, cemented their status as the league’s modern dynasty with a 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

This one, the same as the last two for Kansas City and its superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was accompanied by an emotional comeback in the second half – and, this time, with some heroics in overtime.

Jake Moody’s 27-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime gave the 49ers a 22-19 lead, but the Chiefs responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive and won it on a pass rush. Mahomes’ 3-yard touchdown to Mecole Hardman. .

It was just the latest must-win drive for Kansas City, a team that has built a reputation behind Mahomes for being most dangerous when it has the ball last. The Chiefs led 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 of the drive came on a third-and-7 with 16 seconds left, when Mahomes hit Travis Kelce on a cross for a 22-yard gain that set the Chiefs up for the easy kick .

It was the fourth Super Bowl victory for the Chiefs franchise and the third for the team led by coach Andy Reid, who joins Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs tied for third all-time. Only Bill Belichick (six) and Chuck Noll (four) have more.

“Number three is an important number in terms of dynasties,” Kelce said this week, adding that he wants to win this Super Bowl more than any of the previous three he’s been a part of. Win three titles in five years. puts the Chiefs in a different conversation, one that includes some of the greatest runs in league history.


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Mahomes won his third Super Bowl MVP with 34-of-46 passing for 333 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, giving him 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 during his six-year career — to elite status: He is now one of only five quarterbacks in league history to win at least three Super Bowls, joining Brady (seven), Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three). Brady, Aikman and Mahomes, 28, are the only ones to win three before their 30th birthday. Over the last two playoff series, Mahomes is 7-0, throwing 13 touchdowns and just one interception.

When CBS announcer Jim Nantz mentioned at the postgame podium how the Chiefs were underdogs in the final three games of these playoffs, Mahomes said, “Just know that the Kansas Chiefs City are never underdogs. Just know it.

Kelce added: “We couldn’t have gotten here without having this goal on our backs all year. Now we have the chance to do it three times in a row.

It’s a devastating loss for the 49ers, especially 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 side of the largest blown lead in Super Bowl history, when the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to knock out the Falcons in the only other championship game to go to overtime. . Sunday’s loss was Shanahan’s second as head coach in the Super Bowl; Four years ago, the 49ers blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, ultimately losing 31-20.

San Francisco’s championship drought now lasts 29 seasons. After winning five Lombardi Trophies in 13 years, from 1982 to 1995, the 49ers have lost in their three trips to the Super Bowl since (following 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. Which had become routine during the first decades of the Super Bowl era – there were eight repeated winners over the first 39 editions of the game — has become nonexistent, a byproduct of increased parity in the league and an indication of how difficult the Super Bowl has become. can.

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The title caps a stunning late-season surge by Kansas City, which had its worst regular season since Mahomes became the starter in 2018. Plagued by an unusually inconsistent offense, including a league-worst 44 turnovers by its receivers , the Chiefs were just 9-6 after a loss to the Raiders at home on Christmas Day. It seemed dire enough that Kansas City general manager Brett Veach questioned whether his team would even make the playoffs.

“We 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 didn’t lose again all year, finishing the regular season with two wins before reeling off four straight playoff victories. What began in freezing temperatures in Kansas City, a wild-card victory over the Dolphins in the fourth coldest game in NFL history, continued with two gutsy road victories in Buffalo and Baltimore — the first real road wins of Mahomes’ playoff career — and culminated with Sunday’s return to Las Vegas.

This is the most unlikely title of the Chiefs’ current run, not only because of their regular season struggles, but also because of the intensity of the spotlight that has followed the team for most of the year. Kelce’s relationship with pop superstar Taylor Swift became a phenomenon in its own right, and her appearances at regular season and playoff games – she appeared in all four of Kansas City’s playoff games, including the Sunday’s Super Bowl after a Saturday spectacle in Tokyo – has become one of the biggest stories in sports.

When asked what he had learned about the celebrity hustle over the past few months, Kelce smiled and had this to say in the week leading up to the match: “Being famous around the world is a lot different from being famous in Kansas City.”

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On Sunday, the 49ers controlled the first half by owning the trenches, especially 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 rushing throws. In turn, the Chiefs’ offense was never in sync, managing only a late field goal to cut San Francisco’s 10-0 lead.

The Chiefs finished with just 16 yards in the first quarter — compared to San Francisco’s 125 — and couldn’t get Kelce involved. Kelce caught a one-yard bubble screen, his only target in the first 30 minutes of the game.

After kicker Moody made what was then the longest field goal in Super Bowl history – a 55-yarder in the first quarter – the 49ers scored the game’s first touchdown with 4:23 left in the second quarter when Jauan Jennings, on a Purdy field, hit McCaffrey for a 21-yard catch-and-run score. It was a courageous and creative play by Shanahan and the first touchdown pass of Jennings’ three-year career.

San Francisco led 10-3 at the break and frustrated Kansas City. CBS cameras caught Kelce bumping into Reid on the sidelines during a tense exchange.

Their chances didn’t look any more promising after the first drive of the third quarter when Mahomes threw his first interception of the last two playoff series.

But the game turned on its head after a critical 49ers miscue in the third quarter when returner Darrell Luter Jr. botched a punt at the San Francisco 35-yard line. The Chiefs’ Jaylen Watson recovered, and it took just one play for Mahomes to capitalize: He hit receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 16-yard touchdown a moment later.

Suddenly, after being dominated throughout the match, the Chiefs were in front. 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 it on an ensuing field goal that capped a 12-play, 69-game tally. 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 have ever seen. »

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(Photo: Harry Comment/Getty Images)

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