Patrick Mahomes’ third Super Bowl came about in conditions in which most rivals would crumble. Three-pointer Mahomes earned the nickname with his third championship before 30 coming at the end of his worst statistical season since he was a freshman at Texas Tech.
Mahomes numbers in total are astronomical, but one data point spells out 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 postseason play. After Sunday, Mahomes is 9-2.
Honestly, the Chiefs are a dynasty because they never die with Mahomes at the helm. Shanahan and Purdy avoided Wes Craven’s fourth-wall-breaking Randy Meeks’ rules of 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 have to 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 to bury Kansas City in the first half before they could figure out Steve Wilks’ crushing defense. Nothing could kill more joy on Sunday than Kansas City’s punt-pass-kick contest through three quarters. Two weeks after that Chase Young was rightly assaulted for his lackluster effort in their NFC Championship Game comeback, the pilot light burned under him in the first half. Mahomes drew a deliberate penalty and threw an awkward two-handed pass that didn’t reach the line of scrimmage. Tight end Noah Gray’s presence near the pass’s route was ignored, but the drive-killing wash resulted from Young sealing the edge as Mahomes escaped the pocket.
Self-inflicted wounds, fumbles and a San Francisco bully pass thwarted Mahomes while Steve Spagnuolo’s defense and some special teams mistakes kept the Chiefs within striking distance. Unfortunately, for the Niners, if you’re going to topple the Chiefs dynasty, you have to do it convincingly, à la the Tampa Bay Buccaneers obliteration of Mahomes in Super Bowl LV.
Mahomes followed Purdy and the Niners’ footsteps through the swampy first half on Sunday. After an unremarkable 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 put up 400 yards in total offense. Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift were the relationship that drew the casuals in, but the connection between the future Hall of Famers and Mahomes was Andy Reid’s insurance premium.
When Mahomes needed a big play, he either put the weight of the offense on his own shoulders or turned to Kelce for support. It was Kelce’s 22-yard catch and kick 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 teammates with open space to pick up yards. On the penultimate play, he rumbled forward to put the Chiefs inside the Niners 5-yard line. Overall, Kelce had a game-high nine catches for 99 yards.
We’ve seen him flip 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, though, Purdy showed more fight than 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo.
Purdy turned in a middle manager performance in the first half, but when the Niners needed him to play above his pay grade, he turned in C-Suite level performances that 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 ended up crushing him, forcing the Niners to kick a field goal with about two minutes remaining.
In overtime, he constantly extended games with his legs and arms to Chris Jones unblocked through the line on 3rd and 4, ending San Fran’s opening possession of the overtime with another field goal. Knowing that a touchdown would win the Super Bowl, Mahomes stepped onto the field and showed a Jordanian mix of fire and composure. 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-go 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 Corndog dug out of his playbook for the third time in two Super Bowls. Mecole Hardman sprinting to the middle of the field in a pre-snap move only to reverse course and run back to the sideline for the Super Bowl-winning touchdown was how Reid Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney a year ago against the Eagles.
The Taylor Swiftification of Chiefs broadcasts, the Mahomes family’s inner turmoil, and stone-handed receivers were just the peripheral sub-plots. Mahomes’ Super Bowl victories 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 all postseason by winning a few games on the road.
As if Mahomes needed any more motivation after burying San Francisco six feet under, he’s now looking to join the four-Super Bowl QB club consisting of Montana and Terry Bradshaw. I would not recommend betting against him.
Find DJ Dunson on X… or don’t: @cerebral sports text