MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Uncomfortable and under duress for much of the game, Patrick Mahomes suddenly recaptured his mojo and lifted Andy Reid and the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory, the team’s first NFL championship in a half-century.
All it took was falling behind by double digits in the postseason, again. Then Mahomes led the Chiefs to 21-straight points in the final 6:13, hitting two long passes on touchdown drives for a 31-20 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.
“We never lost faith,” Mahomes said. “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 (15-4) trailed 24-0 and 17-7 in their previous playoff games. This time, Kansas City nearly didn’t have time for a comeback.
Kansas City’s fans in the crowd of 62,417 at Hard Rock Stadium got little opportunity to chant and do the tomahawk chop as KC fell behind 20-10 in the third quarter. Mahomes even threw his second interception of the night after they fell behind.
But the vaunted 49ers defense wilted late and Mahomes brought the magic that makes him special.
He completed passes of 44 yards to Tyreek Hill and 38 to Sammy Watkins. The touchdowns came on short throws to Travis Kelce to cut the deficit to three and to Damien Williams for the lead. The first NFL title in Chiefs coach Reid’s two-decade career was clinched by Williams’ 38-yard TD run, sending red-clad Chiefs fans into chants of “Andy!” Andy!”
Reid, 61, won a Super Bowl ring with the 1996 Packers while in charge of tight ends. He’s been seeking one as a head coach since being hired by Philadelphia in 1999. The Eagles lost in their only trip to the big game after the 2004 season.
“This is what it’s all about,” Reid said. “What a great team, great coaches. Appreciate every bit of it.”
Mahomes found Hill, whose bobble led to the second San Francisco pick, for 44 yards on a third-and-15 — the first long pass completed by Kansas City. A 20-yard pass interference call on Tarvarius Moore, who had that earlier pick, put the ball at the 1 and Kelce was wide open for the score.
The Chiefs defense confounded by the Niners’ misdirection much of the game got stingy and forced a three-and-out. Mahomes soon hit Watkins down the right sideline behind Richard Sherman for a 38-yard gain, leading to Williams’ first score.
San Francisco (15-4) had nothing left in the fourth quarter, and its coach, Kyle Shanahan saw yet another late-game meltdown by his team. Three years ago, as offensive coordinator in Atlanta, he was part of the Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse and loss in overtime to New England.