Patrick Mahomes’ third Super Bowl came to fruition in conditions most competitors would crumple in. Hat-trick Mahomes earned the nickname with his third championship before 30 came at the tail end of his worst statistical season since he was a freshman at Texas Tech.
Mahomes numbers in totality are astronomical, but one data point spells out his resiliency. Tom Brady (10-11), Joe Montana (4-6), John Elway (6-7) and Drew Brees (6-8) are all below .500 when trailing by a touchdown or more in postseason play. After Sunday, Mahomes is 9-2.
Quite frankly, 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: “Stabbing him won’t work. Shooting him won’t work. Basically, in the third one you gotta cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up.”
Kyle Shanahan knows the feeling of Mahomes stalking your team like the antagonist in a slasher flick better than anyone. 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 to lead Kansas City’s 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 punt-pass-kick competition through three quarters. Two weeks after Chase Young was rightfully dogged for his lackadaisical effort in their NFC Championship Game comeback, the pilot light underneath him was blazing in the first half. Mahomes drew an intentional grounding penalty throwing an awkward two-handed push pass that didn’t reach the line of scrimmage. Tight end Noah Gray’s presence near the vicinity of the pass’ trajectory was ignored, but the drive-killing laundry was a result of Young sealing the edge as Mahomes escaped the pocket.
Self-inflicted wounds, fumbles and a San Francisco’s bullying pass rush foiled Mahomes while Steve Spagnuolo’s defense and a pair of special teams errors kept the Chiefs within striking distance. Unfortunately, for the Niners, if you’re going to topple the Chiefs dynasty, you have to do it in convincing fashion, à la the Tampa Bay Buccaneers annihilation of Mahomes in Super Bowl LV.
On Sunday, Mahomes tracked Purdy and the Niners’ footsteps through the swampy first half. After an uneventful opening three quarters, Mahomes channeled his latent killer instincts and pounced. Even when the Niners led through a majority of the second half, it felt like Mahomes was in Ghostface mode as he generated 400 yards in total offense. Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift was the relationship that drew in the casuals, but the connection between the future Hall of Famers and Mahomes was Andy Reid’s Insurance penalty.
When Mahomes needed a big play he either 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 Harrison Butker up for a gimme 29-yard field goal. On multiple plays on the Chiefs game-winning drive, he served as a decoy, leaving teammates with open space to pick up yards. On the penultimate play, he rumbled forward to place the Chiefs inside the Niners 5-yard-line. Overall, Kelce produced a game-high nine catches for 99 yards.
We’ve seen him turn that switch on 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, though, Purdy demonstrated more fight than 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo.
Purdy submitted a middle-manager performance in the first half, but when the Niners needed him to play above his pay grade, he pulled off C-Suite level feats which had the Niners one stop away from a Super Bowl. On the Niners’ final drive of regulation, he matriculated the offense down the field, but a timely disguised blitz by Spagnuolo finally crushed him, forcing the Niners to kick a field goal with approximately two minutes left.
In overtime, he continuously extended plays with his legs and arms until Chris Jones crashed through the line unblocked on 3rd and 4, ending San Fran’s opening possession of the overtime with another field goal. Knowing a touchdown would win the Super Bowl, Mahomes strode onto the field and exhibited a Jordanesque mix of fire and equanimity. On a 4th-and-1 jump-scare, Mahomes faked an inside handoff and scampered 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 picked up 13 yards. On 3rd and 1, Mahomes pulled another rabbit out of his hat by galloping for 19 yards.
Inside the 5-yard-line, Andy Reid dug Corndog out of his playbook for the third time in two Super Bowls. Mecole Hardman sprinting in pre-snap motion towards the middle of the field only to reverse course and sprint back towards the sideline for the Super Bowl-winning touchdown was how Reid schemed Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney open a year ago against the Eagles.
The Taylor Swiftification of Chiefs broadcasts, the Mahomes family’s inner tumult, and stone-handed receivers were just the peripheral subplots. Mahomes’ Super Bowl wins are getting increasingly more dramatic, but there wasn’t any doubt that he’d 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 apropos time to anoint them. Mahomes beat the odds all postseason by winning a pair of games on the road.
As if Mahomes needed any more motivation after burying San Francisco six feet under, he is now in hot pursuit of the four-Super Bowl QB club consisting of Montana and Terry Bradshaw. I wouldn’t recommend betting against him.
Find DJ Dunson on X…or don’t: @cerebralsportex