Kansas City Chiefs’ Damien Williams (26) scores the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 54 on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Kansas City Chiefs’ Damien Williams (26) scores the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 54 on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Big rally lifts Chiefs to first Super Bowl win in 50 years

Kansas City scores 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat San Francisco, 31-20

  • Sunday, February 2, 2020 10:16pm
  • Sports

Associated Press

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Patrick Mahomes needed just the waning minutes of Super Bowl 54 to end a whole lot of waiting.

A 50-year wait for the Kansas City Chiefs to be crowned NFL champions.

A two-decade wait for an NFL title for coach Andy Reid.

All it took was falling behind by double digits in the postseason — again. Then Mahomes found his mojo. The 24-year-old quarterback who was selected Super Bowl MVP, led the Chiefs to 21 straight points in the final 6:13 for a 31-20 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.

“We never lost faith,” Mahomes said. “That’s the biggest thing. Everybody on this team, no one had their head down. We believed in each other. That’s what we preached all year long.”

The Chiefs (15-4) trailed 24-0 and 17-7 in their previous playoff games, both in the first half. In the big game, they nearly didn’t have time for a comeback.

Kansas City’s fans in the crowd of 62,417 at Hard Rock Stadium got little opportunity to chant and do the tomahawk chop as KC fell behind 20-10 in the third quarter. Mahomes even threw his second interception of the night after they fell behind.

But the vaunted 49ers defense wilted late and Mahomes brought the magic that made him the NFL’s MVP last season.

He completed passes of 44 yards to Tyreek Hill and 38 to Sammy Watkins. The touchdowns came on short throws to Travis Kelce to cut the deficit to three and to Damien Williams for the lead. The first NFL title in Chiefs coach Reid’s two-decade career was clinched by Williams’ 38-yard TD run, sending red-clad Chiefs fans into chants of “Andy!” Andy!”

Reid, 61, won a Super Bowl ring with the 1996 Green Bay Packers while in charge of tight ends. He’s been seeking one as a head coach since being hired by Philadelphia in 1999. The Eagles lost in their only trip to the big game under Reid after the 2004 season.

“This is what it’s all about,” Reid said as confetti fell and the Chiefs celebrated the climax of the NFL’s 100th season. “What a great team, great coaches. Appreciate every bit of it.”

Mahomes found Hill, whose bobble led to the second San Francisco pick, for 44 yards on a third-and-15 — the first long pass completed by Kansas City. A 20-yard pass interference call on Tarvarius Moore, who had that earlier pick, put the ball at the 1 and Kelce was wide open for the score.

The Chiefs defense, confounded by the Niners’ misdirection much of the game, got stingy and forced a three-and-out. Mahomes soon hit Watkins down the right sideline behind Richard Sherman for a 38-yard gain, leading to Williams’ first score.

San Francisco (15-4) had nothing left in the fourth quarter, and its coach, Kyle Shanahan saw yet another late-game meltdown by his team. Three years ago, as offensive coordinator in Atlanta, he was part of the Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse and loss in overtime to New England.

“We’ll lick our wounds and we’ll get over this,” Shanahan said.

Kansas City, an original AFL franchise, won the final Super Bowl before the full merger, beating Minnesota in 1970. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt even coined the phrase Super Bowl.

Now the Hunt family can add a Vince Lombardi Trophy to the OVERSET FOLLOWS:Lamar Hunt Trophy that goes to the AFC champion.

“It’s a beautiful trophy,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “I’m so happy for our players, coaches and fans. And especially Andy Reid. Nobody deserves this trophy more than Andy Reid.”

San Francisco went 4-12 in 2018 and Shanahan was on something of a hot seat this season. He came close to a ring once again, but down the stretch the Niners couldn’t slow the no-huddle attack at which Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Williams and all the other Chiefs excel.

“We have heart,” Mahomes said. “We never give up and those guys around us, the leaders on the team , have that mindset that we never give up.”

The fourth quarter fireworks by the Chiefs were along the lines of the expected offensive explosion. Earlier, there were some strong drives but not a lot of huge plays.

The 49ers used up nearly six minutes on their opening drive, yet got only Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal. Kansas City took up 7:26 for its next march, including a fourth-and-1 run by Williams on a direct snap to the 49ers 1. All four Chiefs in the backfield spun around before the snap.

Mahomes took it in to end the 15-play series on a run option.

The 7-3 deficit was the first for San Francisco since Game 15. It soon became 10-3 after Jimmy Garoppolo’s ill-advised lob under pressure was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland. Another fourth-down gamble paid off for KC, with Williams gaining 3 on a pitchout. But the Chiefs stalled and Harrison Butker kicked a 31-yard field goal.

San Francisco needed a spark and, as it often has this season, the running game provided it. Gouging the Chiefs in the trenches, the 49ers gained 53 yards on five straight rushes before Garoppolo hit on a pair of passes. The second completion, over the middle to Kyle Juszczyk, saw the fullback make a nifty open-field move past safety Daniel Sorensen — perhaps Kansas City’s best tackle. Juszczyk surged into the end zone for a 15-yard TD to tie it at 10.

Once more, Garoppolo was brilliant on a drive after being picked off. He improved to 39-for-42 for 461 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions with a 136.2 rating on such series.

Gould’s 42-yarder gave the Niners their first lead, capping the opening drive of the second half. Again, their misdirection plays kept the Chiefs off-balance on defense.

As Garoppolo did in the first half, Mahomes then threw into heavy coverage trying to hit Hill and was picked by Fred Warner. It was the first interception of Mahomes in five postseason games.

And it paid off with another efficient series for the Niners, keyed by a 26-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne on third down. Raheem Mostert, the star of the NFC title game, surged in from the 1 for a 20-10 edge.

Hardly unfamiliar territory for Kansas City.

“We have an ability as a team not just on offense, as team, to figure out what the other team is doing and put our foot in the ground and say enough is enough,” Kelce said. “It’s special.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Stanwood's Owen Thayer makes a layup during the game against Mountlake Terrace on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep basketball weekly update: Storylines from around the area

Chaos atop Wesco 3A/2A boys, a GP boys buzzer-beater, a signature Lake Stevens girls victory, and more.

The Shorecrest bench reacts to a missed shot in the final seconds of regular time to send the game against Arlington to overtime on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Arlington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wave of cancellations wreaking havoc on winter prep sports

‘It’s just been so hard’: Canceled games and program shutdowns have been commonplace for local teams.

Seattle University's Hal Uderitz, a Snohomish High School graduate, competes during a game against Portland on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo provided by Seattle U)
Snohomish grad hopes to earn contract with Sounders

Hal Uderitz was drafted in the third round by Seattle and aims to prove in preseason he’s deserving of a first-team contract.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) looks on as Kraken center Calle Jarnkrok (19) clears the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Appleton, Grubauer lead Kraken to 5-3 win over Panthers

Seattle scored three goals in the second period and knocked off the NHL’s points leaders.

Oregon guard Rivaldo Soares (11) makes a pass against Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr. (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
Huskies go down big in loss to rival Oregon

UW fell behind 37-8 and never came close in a blowout loss to the Ducks.

Stanwood's Kaeden McGlothin yells after stealing the ball from Mountlake Terrace's Adison Mattix to seal the win for Stanwood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood pulls out ‘gritty’ win over Mountlake Terrace

The Spartans answered every Mountlake Terrace push in a tense fourth quarter for a 63-62 victory.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22

Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Huuhtanen scores twice, leads Silvertips past Royals

In its only game of the week, first-place Everett beats Victoria 5-3 on the road.

Chicago State guard Aaliyah Collins, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (Sebastian Montoya / Chicago State Athletics)
Community roundup: GP grad shines again for Chicago State

Plus, professional bull riding is coming to Everett, former Silvertips are headed to the Olympics and more.

Most Read