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Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas

Wade Vandervort

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. The Chiefs won 25-22.

While the rest of his teammates celebrated in the corner of the end zone, Patrick Mahomes took off on a sprint down the home sideline until he could sprint no more.

Mahomes collapsed in front of the Kansas City Chiefs’ bench, put his hands over his face and got showered in a rain of red and gold confetti from a machine yards away.

The Chiefs are Super Bowl champions for the third time under the seemingly unstoppable quarterback, having defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium.

“I can’t even explain what was going through my mind — extreme joy,” Mahomes said in his postgame news conference. “I didn’t know where to go. I’m just so proud of the guys. We battled until the end.”

Super Bowl 58 proved a historic game fitting for Las Vegas’ first run as host. In a city that never sleeps, the biggest game refused to go to bed.   

The 4-year old, $2 billion Allegiant Stadium made history by staging the longest Super Bowl ever. It was only the second time in the history of the event that four quarters of action weren’t enough to determine a winner.

Mahomes had every reason to be exhausted after leading his team to a comeback that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman 15 minutes into overtime.  

It was the second straight year that the 28-year-old quarterback had to lead his team from a double-digit Super Bowl deficit. Kansas City became the first team in 20 years, since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, to win back-to-back NFL titles.

“This is awesome,” Mahomes said while still on the field moments after the victory. “Legendary.”

Unlike the quarterback he’s chasing to be known as the best ever, the Patriots’ Tom Brady, Mahomes has now won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in each of his first three wins

There was no other reasonable choice for voters after Mahomes threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns while also chipping in a team-high 66 rushing yards.

The bulk of those rushing yards came in the game-winning overtime drive and a game-tying possession at the end of the regulation.

Mahomes was virtually perfect in the game’s biggest moments, converting a succession of third downs with the game on the line and even one fourth down. The 49ers received the overtime kickoff and went 76 yards before bogging down inside the 10-yard line, settling for a 27-yard field goal from Jake Moody to go up 22-19.

“It was like, ‘It’s over man,’” Chiefs safety Justin Reid said. “We’re getting the ball back to (Mahomes). The offense just did what it does and showed up in the biggest moments.”

Under the NFL’s new overtime rules, Kansas City was guaranteed a possession with the ball. The Chiefs made the most of it, though only after the 49ers had their own chance to win the game with their defense.

The defense stood strong at first, putting the Chiefs in a 4th-and-1 situation from their own 34-yard line. But Mahomes calmly called a timeout, conferred with coach Andy Reid and scrambled eight yards to keep the drive alive.

There was no more stopping the Chiefs from there as they scored eight plays later shortly after another 19-yard Mahomes scramble to get them into the red zone.  

“The defense was just keeping us in there and the offense made plays when we needed to,” Mahomes said. “It was a microcosm of our whole season. I’m just proud of the guys. They kept believing.”

Mahomes had one interception — to start the second half when he threw into double coverage and 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown came down with the ball — but made the key plays that 49ers’ counterpart Brock Purdy couldn’t.

“I have to be better,” Purdy said afterwards. “For the defense to give us so many opportunities and for us to keep going three-and-out, that’s what hurts me.”

Purdy threw one touchdown pass on a 10-yard slant to Jauan Jennings early in the fourth quarter to put the 49ers up 19-16, but his team’s other trip to the end zone came on a trick play. After a slow start to the game, Jennings executed a double-pass when he threw across the field to running back Christian McCaffrey who sped off 21 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

McCaffrey had 160 combined rushing and receiving yards and was likely to take home MVP honors if San Francisco finished the job.

They couldn’t, as Reid employed a faster-paced offense once McCaffrey put them in a 10-0 deficit and Mahomes proved lethally efficient.

Mahomes’ first touchdown pass came with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter, when a busted coverage allowed him to find Marquez Valdes-Scantling wide open in the end zone for a 16-yard score. That gave the Chiefs their first lead, at 13-10, a play after recovering a punt that ricocheted off the leg of 49ers cornerback Darrell Luter.

Jennings and McCaffrey keyed a drive late in the fourth quarter to set up a 53-yard field goal from Jake Moody that put the 49ers up 19-16 with 1:53 to play.

That was far too much time for Mahomes, who led the Chiefs’ offense 64 yards down the field with relative ease.  His favorite target, superstar receiver Travis Kelce, had two receptions for 31 yards on the drive but didn’t get much of a chance to haul in a potential game-winning touchdown pass from Mahomes on the Chiefs’ penultimate play of regulation.

Mahomes tried to squeeze in a ball to Kelce in the corner of the end zone, but 49ers linebacker/captain Fred Warner had the tight end blanketed in coverage.

They instead settled for a 29-yard field goal from Harrison Butker, his fourth of the night including a Super Bowl record 57-yarder in the third quarter to tie the game.

That ensured Mahomes would get another chance, and that’s all he needed.

“How does it get any better than that, baby,” Kelce screamed as he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on a stage wheeled onto the field postgame.

Mahomes might have been out of energy after five quarters of championship football, but Kelce stayed on his feet and strained his vocal cords. He belted out a rendition of “Viva Las Vegas” under the adoring eye of pop star girlfriend Taylor Swift below and predicted an epic celebration ahead after hauling in a game-high nine catches for 93 yards.

“The goal has always been to get three (Super Bowls),” Kelce said. “We had that target on our back all year.”

Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl was a star-studded affair with an endless stream of celebrities spanning generations like Paul McCartney, Jay-Z and Justin Bieber shown on Allegiant Stadium’s screens throughout the game. Usher added to it with an acrobat-assisted, guest-heavy halftime show that saw the likes of Alicia Keys, Ludacris and Lil Jon make appearances.

But Mahomes and Kelce outshined all of them, improving to 5-0 in their careers at Allegiant Stadium. None of the previous victories were as sweet as this one, which Kelce called the most meaningful of all his Super Bowls.

The Chiefs raved about their experience in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl postgame but had one nitpick: The fact that they were underdogs in local sports books. They may have been in trouble at different points throughout the game, but they never lost faith.

Not with Mahomes at the helm.

“The Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs,” Mahomes said. “Just know that.”

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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