KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was less than 9 minutes remaining when the Chiefs got the ball back down 20-10 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
In other words, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City had the San Francisco 49ers right where they wanted them.
The Chiefs have made a habit of furious double-digit comebacks this postseason, and the Super Bowl was no exception.
Mahomes had struggled to that point, throwing the first two interceptions of his five-game playoff career.
Down by 10 midway through the final quarter, Mahomes finally tested the 49ers deep on a third-and-15 from the Chiefs’ 35-yard line. The 44-yard bomb he connected on to Tyreek Hill — under pressure, off his back foot and more than 50 yards in the air — set the stage for a stirring 31-20 victory, which clinched Kansas City’s first Super Bowl title in a half-century.
Kansas City, which claimed its second Lombardi Trophy, delivered the first for coach Andy Reid, who lost his only previous Super Bowl appearance during the 2004 season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Three plays later, a pass interference against Travis Kelce in the end zone set up a 1-yard touchdown from Mahomes to Kelce, trimming the lead to 20-17.
Kansas City’s defense stuffed San Francisco on three plays, giving the ball back to Mahomes, who went 5 of 5 for 60 yards on the go-ahead touchdown drive.
Mahomes’ 38-yard strike down the right sideline to Sammy Watkins, who finished with five catches for 98 yards, was the big play on the drive.
Damien Williams put the Chiefs in front on a 5-yard reception from Mahomes, which was reviewed and ultimately upheld with 2:44 remaining.
During all three games this postseason, the Chiefs spotted their opponent at least a 10-point lead before rallying for victory.
Kansas City trailed 24-0 against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round in a 51-31 victory.
One week later, the Tennessee Titans led 10-0 and 17-7 in the first half during a 35-24 loss to the Chiefs, which punched the team’s first Super Bowl berth since the 1969 season.
Kansas City ramped up the drama, waiting to fall behind by double digits until the second half, but the result was the same.
Kansas City even tacked on a 38-yard Damien Williams touchdown run for good measure after Frank Clark's fourth-down sack snuffed out the 49ers' own comeback bid. Williams
Things looked bleak until that point.
The 49ers scored before and after Mahomes’ first career postseason interception during a pivotal third quarter Sunday during Super Bowl LIV from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
After being tied at halftime, San Francisco took control with Robbie Gould’s 42-yard goal on the opening drive of the second half.
Next came Mahomes’ pick, an errant third-and-long throw intended for Hill that instead found 49ers linebacker Fred Warner.
The resulting drive, which covers 55 yards on six plays, allowed San Francisco to double up Kansas City when Raheem Mostert powered in from a yard out.
Down 20-10 entering the fourth quarter, Mahomes had the Chiefs on the move, but he was intercepted again approaching the red zone.
Mahomes zipped a pass over the middle just behind Hill on another third-down throw, which was tipped and picked by Tarvarius Moore.
Next, came the comeback — making the 2019 Chiefs immortal as Super Bowl champions.
For only the fourth time in Super Bowl history, the game was tied at halftime.
The 49ers’ defense forced a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive and took the lead with a 38-yard Gould field goal midway through the first quarter.
The Chiefs answered with a 15-play drive — including a critical four-and-1 conversion deep in 49ers territory, as Andy Reid eschewed a field-goal try.
Two plays later, quarterback Mahomes scored on a 1-yard option keeper for the Chiefs’ first lead.
Mahomes finished 12 of 18 for 104 yards in the first half, outperforming his San Francisco counterpart.
With defensive linemen Chris Jones and Mike Pennel in his face, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo committed the first major gaffe of the game, floating an interception to Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Kansas City made it hurt nine plays and 43 yards later when Harrison Butker nailed a 31-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead.
But that lead was short-lived.
San Francisco needed only seven plays to chew up 80 yards, capped by fullback Kyle Juszczyk’s 15-yard touchdown from Garoppolo.
Statistically, the game has been very even aside from time of possession, which the Chiefs actually dominated 17:13 to 12:47.
The Chiefs played in two of the first four Super Bowls, losing Super Bowl I to the Green Bay Packers (before it was even called the Super Bowl) and cruising to victory in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings.
The franchise hadn’t returned in 50 years and only reached two other AFC Championship Games, a loss at the Buffalo Bills during the 1993 season and last season’s home loss to the New England Patriots, during that span.