By Ben Morse and Steve Almasy, CNN
(CNN) — The Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls in 19 years, downing the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime in Las Vegas. Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have won Super Bowls in three of the past five seasons.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, voted Most Valuable Player in all three of his Super Bowl victories, was 34-of-46 for 333 yards with two touchdowns – including the game-winner – and one interception. Mahomes also had 66 yards rushing, including a 19-yard scramble on the game’s final drive.
Second-year Niners quarterback Brock Purdy looked calm and collected in the pocket and was 23-of-38 for 255 yards and one touchdown. All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey had 80 yards on the ground and 80 through the air. Wide receiver Jauan Jennings became the second person in Super Bowl history to throw and catch touchdown passes.
Veteran tight end Travis Kelce, who only had one catch for one yard in the first half, finished with nine receptions and 93 yards but didn’t find the end zone.
49ers kicker Jake Moody kicked three field goals, including one that temporarily held the Super Bowl record as the longest, but he had an extra point blocked in regulation.
The game was a rematch of the Super Bowl four years ago, when the Chiefs pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 31-20.
Here are the key takeaways from Super Bowl LVIII:
Cementing a legacy and creating a dynasty
Mahomes, Kelce, head coach Andy Reid and other key contributors to the Chiefs’ recent run can now put themselves alongside NFL legends in the pantheon of the sport’s greatest.
From Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll, the list of individuals and teams to have the level of success the Chiefs have had is an exclusive one.
Now, the modern era Kansas City Chiefs are amongst those greats of the game.
With three titles in five seasons and back-to-back championships to their name, the Chiefs are the NFL’s next dynasty. And with Mahomes as their quarterback – who many are suggesting is the best to ever do it – there’s no reason for them to stop.
The weight of the moment could be seen catching up to Mahomes after the winning touchdown, as he collapsed on the sideline after a mazy, celebratory run.
“The whole game was a (microcosm) of our whole, entire season,” Mahomes told CBS afterwards. “It was the defense keeping us in there. And then the offense making plays when it counted. … I’m just proud of the guys. They kept believing.”
Sunday’s Super Bowl was a snapshot into what Reid and general manager Brett Veach have built over the years.
Gone are the days of the Chiefs scoring 50 points every game with Mahomes throwing the ball from pillar to post. Now, Kansas City is built upon longer possessions, with a strong running game and a dominant defense.
And while Mahomes and Kelce struggled in the first half of Super Bowl LVIII, it was the other facets of the team which stood up in their place.
The defense stopped the typically explosive 49ers regularly, in particular in the second half when the Chiefs’ offense began to pick up.
But, when it came to the crunch time in the fourth quarter and overtime, it was the trusted combination of Mahomes and Kelce to get Kansas City over the line.
Mahomes converted key fourth downs with his legs and looked to Kelce throughout the second half and overtime – the tight end finished with nine receptions and 93 yards after just one catch in the opening half.
And once the red and yellow confetti had rained down and Mahomes had lifted his Super Bowl MVP award – the third of his career – the star quarterback was looking to the future, not what has past.
“It’s a start of [a dynasty]. We are not done,” Mahomes said immediately after the game. “I know we are going to celebrate tonight, celebrate with the parade Wednesday in Kansas City — but we are not done. Got a young team. We are going to keep this thing going.”
And Kelce – who celebrated on the field with girlfriend Taylor Swift – had a similar outlook.
“The goal has always been to get three (championships), but we couldn’t get here without getting to two, and having that target on our back all year,” he said on the CBS broadcast. “And I love these guys right here. The men that we just won this thing with — family forever, baby.”
Super Bowl struggles continue for Shanahan
Losing is always tough. But for Kyle Shanahan, it must hurt even more so.
The San Francisco 49ers head coach is famed for his offensive wisdom and genius, especially during the regular season.
However, Shanahan has now built a track record of faltering on the biggest stage.
He was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons’ historic 28-3 collapse to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. He lost in Super Bowl LIV to the Chiefs, blowing a 10-point lead in the process. He then lost two NFC Championship Games in a row, all while continuing to churn out excellent regular season performances.
This season seemed different though. His team seemed more balanced than ever, with star players at all key positions and with the NFL’s surprise package – Brock Purdy – continuing to shine.
Although cracks began to show in the team’s armor in the playoffs as they struggled through wins over the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, winning is all that matters in the postseason and a spot in Las Vegas’ Super Bowl was assured.
And things began so well on Sunday. Shanahan called a brilliant trick play which included wide receiver Jauan Jennings throwing a touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey to open up a 10-3 halftime lead.
And with Mahomes looking out of sorts, there looked an opening for San Francisco.
But some bad breaks, good defense from the Chiefs and conservative play-calling meant the 49ers offense stalled and Kansas City was able to rally.
A late-scoring push forced overtime, but even in added time, the team was forced to go for a field goal on their initial drive after a pass rusher forced an overthrow from Purdy. This allowed Mahomes in and the emerging all-time great doesn’t often make mistakes.
Shanahan admitted afterwards that some of his decisions during the game fell short, including saying he needed to do a better job of leading the guys and that he failed to put his team in position to score touchdowns.
“We had the team obviously to do it, to win the whole thing and to come up short like that,” Shanahan said in a press conference. “The way things have been the last couple of years here, everyone wanted it so bad.”
In the end, it’s another high profile defeat for Shanahan – only two Super Bowls have ever gone to overtime and Shanahan has been on the losing team for both – as he looks to get his Super Bowl monkey off his back.
The greatest ever?
Even before Sunday’s Super Bowl, some were having the conversation about whether Patrick Mahomes was the greatest quarterback ever.
Now, that talk has become even louder.
Although he struggled for much of the game against the 49ers, Mahomes was able to provide the vital contributions at just the right times.
Whether it was connecting with Kelce eight times in the second half to make the most of Dre Greenlaw’s absence or converting key downs with his running ability, Mahomes had all the answers for what the 49ers were throwing at him.
It all culminated in a three-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman for yet another Super Bowl victory, and arguably his most impressive yet.
All season, the Chiefs have struggled on offense, in particular in the pass catching department. On multiple occasions throughout the regular season, Mahomes was burned by mental miscues from his wide receivers which cost the Chiefs wins.
But such is his brilliance, he has elevated those struggling players throughout this playoff run to the point where they were almost flawless.
Mahomes’ performance, in particular in the second half, made him the clear winner of the Super Bowl LVIII MVP award, meaning be became the third player to win back-to-back MVP honors in NFL history.
And besides all the personal accolades that came with Sunday’s victory, it also came with the praise with many of his peers.
“Coach Reid & 15 different been saying it all year,” former Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“MAHOMES cold blooded!!! Legendary,” former Chiefs and current New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu wrote.
While the Chiefs superstar trails legendary quarterback Tom Brady in the Super Bowl wins department – the former Patriot and Tampa Bay Buccaneer has seven to Mahomes’ three – the chatter will only get louder and louder as to whether or not the 2023 Super Bowl MVP is the greatest of all time or not as he continues his career.
But for some, like Nate Tice, a former NFL coach and scout who is now a football writer and podcaster and spoke to CNN ahead of the game, the debate is already settled: “I already consider Mahomes the best, and if he wins this one, it’s done. Like I’m good. I’ve seen enough.”
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