The wait for the Kansas City Chiefs — and for their head coach — is finally over. A half century after winning their first Super Bowl, the Chiefs are champions once more, winning Super Bowl LIV in epic fashion at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kansas City, led by Mahomes, overcame a 10-point deficit to stun the San Francisco 49ers 31-20, making the Chiefs the first team in NFL history to win three games after trailing by 10 or more points in a single postseason.
“We kept believing,” Mahomes said. “That’s what we did all postseason. I felt like if we were down by 10, we weren’t playing our best football. The guys really stepped up. They believed in me. I was making a lot of mistakes out there early. We found a way to win it in the end.”
At 24 years and 138 days old on Sunday, Mahomes is the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP honors and is the second-youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl (Roethlisberger, at 23, is the youngest).
Mahomes is also now the youngest player to win both an NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl title, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (24 years, 233 days old on the last day of his MVP 1993 season).
Mahomes is the third African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, joining Doug Williams (with Washington in Super Bowl XXII in 1988) and Russell Wilson (Seattle, Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014).
And it’s the first title for Andy Reid, 61, who up until Sunday night had been known as the best head coach to have never won a Super Bowl or NFL championship. This was his second Super Bowl appearance in his 21-year head coaching career.
Now, with career win No. 222, Reid is a champion. He broke the record for the most wins (including the playoffs) by a head coach before at last winning it all, surpassing 2020 Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Cowher’s 152 wins.
“I’m really excited,” Reid said. “You get one, you want to go get another one, but we got to backpedal for about a minute here and enjoy this one and we’ll get busy on the next one.”
Said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt: “Nobody deserves this trophy more than Andy Reid.”
It wasn’t easy for the Chiefs. That was, in part, because Mahomes was pressured by the 49ers defensive front and was sacked four times.
With 5:23 left in the third quarter, Mahomes made his first big mistake, throwing his first career postseason interception, leading to a 49ers touchdown to make it 20-10. He was picked off again on Kansas City’s next possession, with Mahomes’ throw going behind wide receiver Tyreek Hill and into the hands of Tarvarius Moore.
Mahomes’ 11 passing touchdowns without an interception was the most to start a playoff career in the Super Bowl era.
“They’re one of the best defenses that I’ve been up against in my career so far,” Mahomes said of the 49ers.
But as it got late, Mahomes got to work, with three straight touchdown drives in just over five minutes.
With 6:13 left, Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the end zone to cut it to 3. And with 2:44 remaining, Mahomes hit Damien Williams with a 5-yard pass for the go-ahead score. It was a play that would be reviewed, as it appeared Williams may have stepped out of bounds before the ball crossed the plane, but the call stood.
On that drive, Mahomes went 5-for-5 for 60 yards. For the night, Mahomes completed 26 of his 42 passes for 286 yards.
A breakaway touchdown run of 38 yards by Williams put the game away with 1:12 left.
“We never give up,” Mahomes said. “I think those guys, the leaders that we have on this team, they have that mindset that we never give up and we’re going to fight until the end.
“Thank you, Kansas City. We did it, baby!”
The Chiefs were in their first Super Bowl in 50 years, with their previous title coming in Super Bowl IV.
Shanahan: ‘A tough loss’
The loss ends what had been a successful turnaround for the 49ers, who became the third team to reach the Super Bowl after winning four games or less the previous season, joining the 1999 St. Louis Rams (4-12 in 1998) and the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals (4-11 in 1987). In 2018, the 49ers limped to a 4-12 finish when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in the third game of the year.
“It’s tough,” Garoppolo said, having won two Super Bowls when he was Brady’s backup for the Patriots, on Sunday’s loss. “I mean, I’ve never had this feeling before, so kind of an unreal feeling.”
This was the first Super Bowl appearance as a head coach for San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, the 40-year-old son of two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan. They are the only father-son duo to each be in a Super Bowl as a head coach in NFL history.
“It was a tough loss, and it hurts everybody in that (locker) room losing the Super Bowl,” Kyle Shanahan said.
“We had opportunities to win that and came up short. Win or lose, it doesn’t change how I feel about our team. I’m proud of all of the guys for what they did all year, and I’m proud of what they did today.
“Kansas City played a good game. They were better than us today. We can deal with that, but we’re obviously disappointed.”