Patrick Mahomes’ third Super Bowl came about under conditions that would make most competitors collapse. Hattrick Mahomes earned the nickname with his third championship before 30 at the end of his worst statistical season since he was a freshman at Texas Tech.
Mahome’s numbers are astronomical overall, but one data point illustrates his resilience. Tom Brady (10-11), Joe Montana (4-6), John Elway (6-7) and Drew Brees (6-8) are all under .500 when trailing by a touchdown or more in the postseason ‘-game. After Sunday, Mahomes is 9-2.
Honestly, the Chiefs are a dynasty because they never die with Mahomes at the helm. Shanahan and Purdy eschewed Wes Craven’s fourth-wall-breaking Randy Meeks rules for surviving a trilogy and gave Mahomes an opening to earn his Super Bowl treble. Rule number one: ‘Stabling him won’t work. Shooting him won’t work. Basically, in the third you have to cryogenically freeze, decapitate or blow up his head.
Kyle Shanahan knows better than anyone the feeling of Mahomes stalking your team like the antagonist in a slasher movie. He’s seen Mahomes activate that switch firsthand before. Four years ago, the Chiefs MVP began his reign by scoring 14 points in the final seven minutes, leading Kansas City back from a two-possession deficit in Super Bowl 54. And yet he didn’t listen.
San Francisco had plenty of chances in the first half to bury Kansas City before they could figure out Steve Wilks’ crushing defense. Nothing could kill more joy on Sunday than Kansas City’s trap-pass-kick competition for three quarters. Two weeks later Chase Young was rightfully pursued due to his lackluster effort in their comeback in the NFC Championship Game, the pilot light burned under him in the first half. Mahomes was assessed an intentional grounder penalty by throwing a tricky two-handed push pass that did not reach the line of scrimmage. Tight end Noah Gray’s presence near the path of the pass was ignored, but the wash that killed the drive was the result of Young sealing the edge as Mahomes escaped the pocket.
Self-inflicted wounds, fumbles and a San Francisco bully foiled Mahomes, while Steve Spagnuolo’s defense and a few special teams mistakes kept the Chiefs within striking distance. Unfortunately, for the Niners, if you want to topple the Chiefs dynasty, you’ll have to do it convincingly, à la the Tampa Bay Buccaneers destruction of Mahomes in Super Bowl LV.
On Sunday, Mahomes followed in the footsteps of Purdy and the Niners through the swampy first half. After a quiet opening quarter, Mahomes channeled his latent killer instincts and pounced. Even when the Niners led for most of the second half, it felt like Mahomes was in Ghostface mode as he generated 400 total yards of offense. Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift were the relationship that produced many incidents, but the connection between the future Hall of Famers and Mahomes was Andy Reid’s insurance fine.
When Mahomes needed a big play, he placed the weight of the offense on his own shoulders or turned to Kelce for support. It was Kelce’s 22-yard catch-and-run that set up Harrison Butker for a 29-yard field goal. On multiple plays on the Chiefs’ game-winning drive, he served as a decoy, leaving open space for teammates to pick up yards. On the penultimate play, he thundered forward to put the Chiefs inside the Niners 5-yard line. In all, Kelce produced a game-high nine catches for 99 yards.
We’ve seen him turn on that switch before. Four years ago, the Chiefs scored 21 points in seven majestic minutes to lead Kansas City back from a two-possession deficit against San Francisco. This time, however, Purdy demonstrated more fight than 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo.
Purdy turned in a mid-level performance in the first half, but when the Niners needed him to play above his pay grade, he delivered a C-Suite level performance that put the Niners one stop away from a Super Bowl. During the Niners’ final line, he laid the offense down the field, but a timely disguised blitz from Spagnuolo ultimately crushed him, forcing the Niners to kick a field goal with about two minutes remaining.
In overtime he continually extended the play with his legs and arms Chris Jones crashed through the unblocked line in 3rd and 4th, ending San Fran’s opening possession of overtime with another field goal. Knowing a touchdown would win the Super Bowl, Mahomes walked onto the field displaying a Jordanian blend of fire and equanimity. On a 4th-and-1 jump scare, Mahomes faked an inside handoff and ran outside the right tackle to pick up the first. On 3rd and 6, a few plays later, he connected with Rashee Rice on a catch-and-run that netted 13 yards. On 3rd and 1, Mahomes pulled another rabbit out of his hat by galloping 60 feet.
Inside the 5 yard line, Andy Reid took Corndog out of his playbook for the third time in two Super Bowls. Mecole Hardman sprinted to the middle of the field in pre-snap motion before changing course and sprinting back to the sideline for the Super Bowl-winning touchdown, as Reid Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney schemed against the Eagles a year ago.
The Taylor Swiftification of Chiefs broadcasts, the inner turmoil of the Mahomes family, and the stone-handed receivers were just the peripheral subplots. Mahomes’ Super Bowl wins are becoming increasingly dramatic, but there was no doubt he would rise to the occasion. The Niners found themselves on the wrong end of Mahomes’ Terminator streak. After the Chiefs’ first title, the dynasty talk felt premature. Kansas City’s third title is the right time to anoint them. Mahomes beat the odds throughout the postseason, winning a few games along the way.
As if Mahomes needed any more motivation after burying San Francisco five feet under, he’s now on the hunt for the four Super Bowl QB club of Montana and Terry Bradshaw. I wouldn’t recommend betting against him.
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