By Matteo Venieri BU News Service
Never count the Kansas City Chiefs out. After falling behind 20-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 54, Patrick Mahomes took over the game and helped his team score 21 unanswered points to defeat the San Francisco 49ers. This was the third time in the postseason that the Chiefs overcame a double digit deficit.
“We never lost faith,” Mahomes said on the podium. “That’s the biggest thing. Everybody on this team, no one had their head down. We believed in each other. That’s what we preached all year long.”
The Chiefs are bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Missouri for the first time in 50 years. As for the 49ers, it’s their second Super Bowl loss in a row.
For three quarters, the quarterbacks of both teams struggled to find their rhythm. Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception late in the first quarter, while Mahomes threw two in consecutive drives in the third.
The second pick, a pass intended for Tyreek Hill, deflected by the defense, seemed to have condemned the Chiefs to a disappointing loss.
With a solid lead and the ball in their hands, San Francisco had the opportunity to run away with the victory. However, in the four ensuing drives, the 49ers put together only two punts, one interception and a turnover on downs.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t new to blowing a big lead late in the game. As the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, he gave up 25 unanswered points to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.
“We’ll lick our wounds, and we’ll get over this,” Shanahan told ESPN.
On the opposite sideline, Chiefs coach Andy Reid celebrated his first Lombardi Trophy. Thanks to an aggressive play calling and a perfect late-game strategy, he can finally put a ring on his finger. Prior to Sunday’s victory, his 221 career wins were the most ever by a coach without a championship. The reason for such a long wait? He’d never coached anybody like Mahomes before.
With the game on the line, two big time throws by a big time player made the difference. Thanks to two deep passes to Hill and Travis Kelce, Mahomes took back the momentum and the lead late in the game.
With 2:39 left on the clock, Garoppolo had one last chance to put together a game-winning drive. But the quarterback couldn’t emulate his former teammate Tom Brady, who was in attendance with coach Bill Belichick as members of the greatest 100 players in NFL history.
The primary beneficiary of Shanahan’s tailor-made West Coast offense, Garoppolo had his shot at immortality on a deep ball intended for Emmanuel Sanders, but he overthrew the wide receiver by at least three yards.
On the ensuing snap, the former Patriot turned the ball over on downs, and after a 38-yard rushing touchdown by Damien Williams, he finished his night with a second interception that sealed the victory for Kansas City.
While Garoppolo fell short, Mahomes kicked off his career with a legendary start. At 24, the quarterback is the youngest player in NFL history to win MVP and a Super Bowl.