LAS VEGAS — It's hard for Patrick Mahomes to top what he has already done in the NFL. But he found a way in Super Bowl LVIII.
Mahomes' overtime drive for a game-winning touchdown beat the San Francisco 49ers and moved to the top of the list of Mahomes' greatest moments. It's his second game-winning Super Bowl drive in two seasons, and his Super Bowl victory count is up to three.
Mahomes completed some big passes and ran for two first downs on the final drive of overtime. Needing a field goal to tie the game and a touchdown to win, Mahomes hit Mecole Hardman for a 3-yard touchdown and the 25-22 victory. With that, Mahomes added another ring, another Super Bowl MVP award and another chapter to his legend. He had 333 yards and two touchdowns.
Super Bowl LVIII started slowly before turning into a great finish, with each team coming up with huge drives in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
Brock Purdy led a drive that ended in a field goal and a 19-16 49ers lead with less than two minutes to play. Then Mahomes led a drive in the final two minutes of regulation, and Harrison Butker hit a field goal with three seconds left to tie the game. It was just the second time a Super Bowl has gone to overtime, joining Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers scored a field goal to start overtime, but the Chiefs were guaranteed a possession as part of the NFL's new postseason overtime rules. Mahomes needed a touchdown to win, and everyone in Allegiant Stadium knew how that was going to turn out.
49ers defense starts fast
The 49ers came out hot to start Sunday. They had 46 yards on their first four plays. Even though that drive ended suddenly, with a rare Christian McCaffrey fumble — he has lost just four regular-season fumbles on more than 1,800 touches — San Francisco's defense was fantastic from the start. The Niners flustered Mahomes with a good pass rush, took Travis Kelce out of the game for the first half and never let the Chiefs get in a rhythm.
San Francisco's issue was that its offense moved the ball well enough at times, but scoring was difficult. The Niners led 3-0 when they went deep into the playbook. 49ers receiver Jauan Jennings, a highly recruited high school quarterback, caught a backward pass at the snap. He waited a moment, then turned and threw to McCaffrey on the other side of the field. McCaffrey had a clear lane to the end zone and a 21-yard touchdown.
Defenses controlled the game before halftime, and the 49ers were the better team in the first half. It would have been worse for the Chiefs if they hadn't put together a drive late in the first half and kicked a field goal. That was their only score of the half, and they trailed 10-3 when Usher came out to perform.
Lead goes back and forth
For all that had gone wrong for the Chiefs in the first half, they trailed by only a score to start the second half. They trailed 24-14 in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles last year and came back to win. In both cases, they had the NFL's ultimate closer in Mahomes.
The Chiefs defense held after a Mahomes interception to start the third quarter, then a 22-yard run by Mahomes set up a field goal. Kansas City trailed 10-6.
Then the Chiefs got a massive break to take the lead. A Kansas City punt hit 49ers rookie Darrell Luter’s foot as it landed, making it a live ball. Ray-Ray McCloud tried to pick it up, but he couldn’t, and the Chiefs recovered. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was wide open for a 16-yard touchdown on the next play, and the Chiefs suddenly had their first lead.
Not long after, a fourth-down conversion on a bold call by Kyle Shanahan led to a touchdown catch by Jennings, and the 49ers got the lead back 16-13, but their extra point was blocked. That missed point ended up being enormous in the outcome of the game. The Chiefs soon tied it, and then the 49ers took a 19-16 lead with 1:53 to go.
Giving Mahomes that much time needing just a field goal to force overtime seemed to be almost automatic. He faced a third-and-2 but beat the 49ers' blitz with a quick dump off to Jerick McKinnon for 7 yards. That put the Chiefs on the edge of field-goal range. Then he hit Travis Kelce for a gain of 23. The Chiefs had six seconds and a timeout after an incompletion, but head coach Andy Reid didn't risk it and had Butker kick a field goal for the tie.
The Chiefs thought they'd forced a quick punt to start overtime, but Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie was called for holding. That penalty allowed the 49ers to get a drive going, and they ended up getting a field goal to take a tenuous lead.
On the Chiefs' overtime drive, they faced a fourth-and-1 with the Super Bowl on the line. Mahomes ran for a first down to keep the game going. He later hit Rashee Rice for a huge first down on third-and-6. Then Mahomes ran for another first down. Finally, he found Hardman for the walk-off winner.
The Chiefs had an up-and-down season. But they had Mahomes. And that's what mattered the most in winning another title.