MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Uncomfortable and under duress for much of the game, Patrick Mahomes suddenly recaptured his mojo and lifted Andy Reid and the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory, the team’s first NFL championship in a half-century.

All it took was falling behind by double digits in the postseason — again. Then Mahomes led the Chiefs to 21 straight points in the final 6:13, hitting two long passes on touchdown drives 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. This time, Kansas City 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 Kansas City 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 makes him special.

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 touchdown run, sending red-clad Chiefs fans into chants of “Andy! Andy!”

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

“This is what it’s all about,” Reid said. “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 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.

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 Lamar Hunt Trophy earned with the AFC crown.

“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 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 look like anything but with 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 10-10.


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