The Kansas City Chiefs won their first championship in a half-century after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 at Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to help turn a 20-10 deficit into a 24-20 lead. A game-winning five-yard toss to running back Damien Williams with 2:44 left proved to be the winning score.
The 49ers had a chance to take the lead in response, but a Frank Clark sack on 4th-and-10 from midfield stalled the drive. Two plays later, Williams sealed the win with a 38-yard touchdown run:
The 49ers jumped out to a 10-point fourth-quarter edge courtesy of a Kyle Juszczyk 15-yard touchdown catch, a one-yard Raheem Mostert touchdown run and a pair of Robbie Gould field goals. San Francisco also picked off Mahomes twice in the second half.
However, the Chiefs got back into the game with a 10-play, 83-yard touchdown drive capped by a one-yard pass from Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce with 6:13 left in the fourth. The Kansas City defense then forced a punt, leading to the game-winning score.
Williams gained 133 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. Tyreek Hill led all receivers with nine receptions and 105 yards.
Mahomes accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and two interceptions. He threw for 286 yards.
Deebo Samuel led the 49ers with 92 scrimmage yards (53 rushing, 39 receiving). Mostert led the 49ers with 12 carries for 58 yards, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went 20-of-31 for 219 yards, one touchdown and two picks.
After a 49ers field goal opened the scoring, the Chiefs cashed in with the contest's first touchdown on their next drive, with Mahomes keeping the ball on an option play from one yard out. A Harrison Butker extra point put the Chiefs up 7-3 with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Williams gained 25 yards on four carries during the drive, including a four-yard run on 4th-and-1 from the San Francisco 5.
The Chiefs received great starting position to begin their next possession after their pass rush got to Garoppolo, who tossed an interception to cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
That ended with a Butker 31-yard field goal, but the 49ers responded quickly by going 80 yards in 4:27 to tie the game at 10 after Juszczyk's touchdown reception and a Gould extra point.
Juszczyk's score was the first by a fullback in the Super Bowl in 17 years after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Alstott got one versus the Oakland Raiders.
The 49ers worked their way down the field for a 42-yard Gould field goal to start the second half, and then the defense took over, first with a Fred Warner interception to give the offense the ball on its own 45-yard line.
The 49ers cashed in after Mostert punched the ball in from one yard out.
A 26-yard toss from Garoppolo to Kendrick Bourne on 3rd-and-8 from the 37-yard line kept the drive going. A Juszczyk 10-yard reception led to Mostert's run to help give the 49ers a 20-10 lead.
Mahomes and the Chiefs matriculated the ball down the field on their next drive to the 49ers' 23, but on 3rd-and-6, the Kansas City signal-caller threw the ball behind Hill and into the arms of Tarvarius Moore.
The 49ers couldn't take advantage, however, and the Chiefs responded with a 10-play, 83-yard drive capped by a Mahomes one-yard pass to Kelce.
The big play was a 44-yard rainbow pass from Mahomes to Hill on 3rd-and-15 from the Chiefs' 35 for the longest gain of the night for either team.
After forcing a three-and-out, Mahomes went back to work with a 38-yard pass to Sammy Watkins down the sideline proving to be the big play.
Three plays later, Mahomes found Williams for the game-winning touchdown.
The Super Bowl victory marked the first as a head coach for the Chiefs' Andy Reid, who has led the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2012) and Kansas City (2013-2019) over the last 21 years. Reid made five conference championship games and one Super Bowl before the season.
The Chiefs' only other Super Bowl appearance occurred in January 1970, when Kansas City took home the title over the 12-point favorite Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in New Orleans.
Kansas City made the playoffs 17 times from 1971 to 2018 but could not win the AFC despite a couple of conference championship game appearances.
The 49ers will go home empty-handed for the second time in eight seasons after losing Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens in February 2013. The five-time Super Bowl champions last won the title 25 years ago.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 20-of-31, 219 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
49ers RB Raheem Mostert: 12 carries, 58 yards, 1 TD
49ers WR Deebo Samuel: 3 carries, 53 yards; 5 catches, 39 yards
49ers TE George Kittle: 4 catches, 36 yards
49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk: 3 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: 26-of-42, 286 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; 9 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD
Chiefs RB Damien Williams: 17 carries, 104 rushing yards, 1 TD; 4 catches, 29 yards, 1 TD
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill: 9 catches, 105 yards
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: 6 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD
Mahomes' Fourth-Quarter Magic Leads to Chiefs Win
Prospects looked bleak for Kansas City midway through the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV.
The Chiefs had seen their last two drives end with interceptions, and they hadn't scored points since the 9:32 mark of the second quarter. The 49ers pass rush was getting to Mahomes, and their outstanding coverage took advantage of a pair of mistakes that led to turnovers.
But the problem when facing Mahomes is that the Chiefs are almost never out of a game with him behind center. In fact, Kansas City hasn't lost a game by more than one score in the Mahomes era.
They wouldn't lose Sunday as he got to work in the fourth.
His connection with Hill gave the Chiefs life, with a 44-yard rainbow pass on 3rd-and-15 setting Kansas City up in San Francisco territory. Despite another oncoming rush, Mahomes had the wherewithal to find Hill down the field for what stands as the play of the game.
Next Gen Stats noted that the pass was Mahomes' longest by air yards this season:
And Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson noted its importance: "This is the play that changed the game: 49ers D was getting to Mahomes. He looked off. They had just overturned the Hill catch bringing up 3rd and long. Pressure again, this time they burned it."
Four plays later, Mahomes found Kelce for the score. Soon afterward, the Chiefs defense gave the third-year pro a chance to deliver the win.
The 2018 NFL MVP did so, accounting for all the yardage through the air and ground and finding Williams for the game-winning score.
Once again, Mahomes delivered a deep downfield pass to set the Chiefs up, this time to Watkins for 38.
Watkins deserves as much credit as Mahomes, with Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor calling his route "filthy" against one of the NFL's best defensive backs in Richard Sherman.
But as Christian D'Andrea of SBNation wrote, Mahomes "had to drop a pass in the bucket" to complete the pass. He did so, leading to an anomaly this season against Sherman, per Next Gen Stats:
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
Patrick Mahomes' 38-yard deep completion to Sammy Watkins came against Richard Sherman as the nearest defender in coverage. Sherman has allowed a deep completion in back-to-back games after having allowed 0 deep completions during the regular season. #SBLIV | #ChiefsKingdom https://t.co/pe623Nfz73
Three plays later, the Williams score gave Kansas City the lead.
ESPN's Matt Bowen described the two deep balls in further detail:
It wasn't always pretty for Mahomes, whose two interceptions could have led to a Chiefs defeat. He also struggled in the face of relentless 49ers pressure in the third quarter.
But when it mattered most, Mahomes delivered once again, cementing himself as an MVP and Super Bowl winner before his rookie contract expires.
Damien Williams Completes 49ers' Collapse
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the 49ers in the final 11:57 of the game.
The Chiefs outgained the 49ers 175-49, and that includes 15 lost yards of kneel-downs in the closing seconds. San Francisco's coverage allowed one play of 44 yards, two for 38 yards and a costly defensive pass interference penalty that put the ball at its own 1-yard line.
The 49ers' final six plays from scrimmage included four incompletions, a sack and an interception. They never advanced the ball past the Kanas City 49 in that final 11:57.
Overall, the 49ers' worst stretch of their excellent season came at an inopportune time. They could get away with that against lesser teams, but the problem was the Chiefs had the personnel to take advantage.
Mahomes was brilliant down the stretch in an otherwise rough game, but one player caused all sorts of problems for the 49ers and made a bad situation much worse in the final minutes.
Williams churned out yards in chunks in both halves, with Evan Silva of Establish The Run giving him proper credit for his work:
All the 27-year-old did in the final quarter was gain 62 yards on five touches for two scores. He fought to hit the pylon for his game-winning touchdown from five yards out with under three minutes remaining, and he put the nail in the coffin with his 38-yard score to finish off the 49ers.
The game wasn't over by any means when Mahomes handed Williams the ball to start the Chiefs' drive from the San Francisco 42 with 1:25 remaining and Kansas City up 24-20. The 49ers held all three timeouts and could have potentially pushed Kansas City out of field-goal range. A field goal without a first-down conversion still would have given the 49ers hope down seven, albeit with no timeouts.
The problem the 49ers had was that every Williams touch seemed as though it turned into something, and his last touch was an explosive one that sealed San Francisco's fate en route to a 21-0 game-ending Chiefs run.
Williams wasn't taking one to the house on every play, but as Next Gen Stats noted, all 17 of his runs turned into positive yardage:
His performance even prompted an AFC West rival player, the Los Angeles Chargers' Keenan Allen, to give Williams some lofty praise:
Naturally, the calls to give Williams the MVP as opposed to the winner in Mahomes were loud and clear postgame:
The 49ers' enjoyed an excellent season after going 4-12 last year with Garoppolo lost for almost the entire season with a torn ACL suffered in September 2018. Their fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV shouldn't erase that notion.
However, the fourth quarter will still sting for a long time, and Williams helped make it so as he ran down the sideline to deliver Kansas City's first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years.