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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Explained: How Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback, won the Super Bowl LIV

Super Bowl LIV: A comeback from 20-10 down would have been a great escape for many, but it was a routine prison break for Patrick Mahomes, and he had orchestrated two coming into Sunday's final.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 5, 2020 12:46:30 pm
Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Tyrann Mathieu celebrate (Source: AP)

Remember the name: Patrick Mahomes. That’s all you have to say if and when somebody asks you, “Hey, whatever happened in the first Super Bowl of the 20s?”

In essentially only his second season (Mahomes got one game in 2017), the 24-year-old helped Kansas City Chiefs win a Super Bowl after 50 years and became the youngest Super Bowl MVP, one year after he had become the youngest league MVP.

A quarterback can never be flawless. Not even Tom Brady, he of eternal youth and six Super Bowl rings, made every pass in those manic finals. Rest of the team is responsible for their own actions, their own moves. A quarterback, the leader of men, has to orchestrate and oversee every play, with a concoction of arm strength, accuracy, speed, dexterity, the rapid visual processing and decision making — all with 6’5, 120kg defenders, getting speedier every season, hulking after you.

On Sunday, Mahomes wasn’t flawless either. He threw a bunch of incomplete passes and two key interceptions. At the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs trailed San Francisco 49ers 20-10. Two long-range passes later, Chiefs won 31-20.

But what would have been a great escape for many was a routine prison break for Mahomes, and he had orchestrated two coming into Sunday’s final.

READ | Comeback masters Kansas City end 50-year Super Bowl drought

In the first post-season game against the Houston Texans, Chiefs fell behind by 23-0 and won 51-31. In the AFC (American Football Conference) championship game against the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs were down 17-7 before winning 35-24. After completing the trifecta on Sunday, Kansas City became the first NFL team to overturn a 10-point (or more) deficit in three different games during the same postseason.

For Niners’ coach Kyle Shanahan, it was the worst kind of deja vu. His Atlanta Falcons lost the Super Bowl three years ago in a game now known as ’28-3′, named after the lead the team blew as Brady’s New England Patriots architected the largest comeback in the competition’s history.

Sunday’s Super Bowl was supposed to finally tell us what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. San Francisco 49ers was the NFL’s top-ranked defence in 2019, holding five opponents to 10 points or fewer. The Chiefs meanwhile were on a marauding run, credit to Mahomes and the wide receivers, and only once had been held at fewer than 23 points.

In the end, the unstoppable force, after being contained for a while, burst through.

Mahomes finished the game having completed 26 of 41 passes for 286 yards, with two touchdowns but also two interceptions

HOW MAHOMES TURNED THE GAME AROUND

Patrick Mahomes, Patrick Mahomes MVP, Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl MVP, Kansas City vs San Francisco, Super Bowl 2020, Super Bowl photos, Patrick Mahomes celebration, Patrick Mahomes girlfriend Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is doused on the sideline during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Source: AP)

After his game began with a couple incomplete passes, Mahomes ran the ball in from 1 yard, a touchdown putting Kansas City ahead 7-3. He followed it with a deep throw to Sammy Watkins for a 28-yard gain and a field goal which put them up 10-3. And that was that for a long time.

For Kansas, the combination of speedy wide receivers and accurate Mahomes was the key all season. But against Niners’ defence, those deep passes dried up, save for the aforementioned 28-yarder. As a result, Mahomes was reduced to a series of short passes. Niners then hit back to make it 10-10 before Jennifer Lopez and Shakira took the stage at halftime.

Mahomes then made two brutal mistakes. Aiming for star receiver Tyreek Hill, Mahomes threw an interception right into the hands of linebacker Fred Warner. Aiming for Hill again, Mahomes’ pass bounced off Hill’s body and was secured by San Francisco’s Tavarius Moore.

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Deep in the fourth quarter, and with Niners up 20-10, Mahomes finally unshackled the ultrafast Chiefs receivers. The quarterback finally hit Hill with a 44-yard pass. The play led to seven points. Niners aimed to run out the clock and wilted miserably.

With less than five minutes on the clock, his team trailing 20-17 and the ball in his hands, Mahomes first connected with a 38-yard throw to Sammy Watkins to make good ground, and a minute later, made the pass to running back Damien Williams who scored the touchdown to give Kansas the lead 24-20.

Williams then piled on the misery of Niners with a break down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown.

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