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Chiefs edge 49ers in OT in Super Bowl classic in Las Vegas

Updated February 11, 2024 - 11:08 pm

There is no question anymore. No doubt or confusion.

The Chiefs erased all suspicion and uncertainty.

They are an uncertified dynasty. It is OK to admit that and talk about them in those terms. They have earned that distinction.

Their place in history was cemented Sunday in a thrilling 25-22 overtime win over the 49ers at a frenzied Allegiant Stadium before an announced crowd of 61,629 in the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

The instant classic ended when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hit Mecole Hardman for a 3-yard game-winning touchdown.

It gave the Chiefs their third title in five seasons and completed the first back-to-back Super Bowl championship run since the Patriots’ two titles in 2003 and 2004.

“It gets sweeter every time,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said.

There is no way to describe their recent success other than for the ages. It’s as dominant and impressive a run as any of the greats in NFL history.

“It’s legendary. It doesn’t happen often,” Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed said. “I’m grateful to be a part of this.”

The Chiefs aren’t running from it anymore, either.

“You tell me,” Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon asked rhetorically. “I know what it is. It’s a dynasty, and we ain’t stopping.”

And as the NFL pushes forward to a new era, Mahomes continues to distinguish himself as the best of his generation.

“I hope people remember not only the greatness on the field but how we did it,” he said.

At age 28, he has plenty of time to put together the most remarkable career of any quarterback.

And with a well-run organization continually rebuilding around Mahomes, betting against him overtaking Tom Brady as the greatest of all time should be done with great consideration.

All the more remarkable considering the Chiefs seemed as vulnerable as they ever have through various points of the season. At one point, they lost three of four games late in the season to surrender home-field advantage for the playoffs.

“Everybody left us for dead,” safety Justin Reid said. “And we were on our own.”

Mahomes played on the road for the first time in his postseason career. What could have been the ultimate obstacle hardened them to the point of invincibility.

“We never failed,” Reid said. “We never faltered.”

They beat the Dolphins, Bills and Ravens to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl, then rallied multiple times to win a game in which they were underdogs.

“To have the doubters, to have the road we went through to find a way through adversity yet again through five quarters, I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Kelce said.

Mahomes was spectacular while leading the Chiefs back from a 10-point first-half deficit and digging out of 16-13 and 19-16 second-half holes.

The latter was the result of an 11-play, 64-yard drive he orchestrated after the Chiefs got the ball back with 1:53 remaining in regulation. Mahomes completed five passes on the drive, including a 22-yarder to Kelce, his dynasty cohort. He also ran two times to pick up critical yardage.

In doing so, he set up Harrison Butker for a 29-yard field goal with six seconds left to send the game into overtime for the second time in Super Bowl history.

Once there, the Chiefs fell into another hole after Jake Moody’s 27-year field goal gave the 49ers a 22-19 lead.

But all that did was set the stage for more Mahomes magic, this time overseeing a 13-play, 75-yard drive in which he converted two third downs — one with his arm and another by running for 19 yards — and a fourth-and-1 when he ran for 8 yards.

All of which paved the way for his game-winning touchdown to Hardman to thrust the Chiefs into football immortality.

Mahomes’ message to the Chiefs as they huddled up for their final drive was short and succinct.

“Let’s go win this thing,” Kelce remembered his quarterback saying.

Mahomes completed 34 of 46 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Not surprisingly, his favorite target was Kelce, who hauled in nine passes for 93 yards.

In all, Mahomes completed passes to eight receivers. He also ran for a team-leading 66 yards on nine carries.

The Chiefs needed every one of those plays. Each grew more critical than the next with how the 49ers continually nudged ahead in the second half.

The 49ers scored the first touchdown of the game on a trick play. Quarterback Brock Purdy threw behind the line of scrimmage to wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who passed back across the field to running back Christian McCaffrey. He ran untouched 21 yards for a touchdown with 4:32 left in the first half.

McCaffrey finished with 80 yards rushing and 80 yards receiving on eight catches and the one touchdown.

The Chiefs were held to three first-half points, scoring on Butker’s 28-yard field goal with 20 seconds left.

Butker’s 57-yard field goal in the third quarter cut the Chiefs’ deficit to 10-6 and set a Super Bowl record for longest field goal.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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