Chiefs defeat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and earn their first title in 50 years
So, in their most dire, most crucial moment yet, the Kansas City Chiefs doubled down again on being down by double digits.
Trailing by 10 points, they scored three touchdowns in the final 6 minutes 13 seconds Sunday to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.
In securing the franchise’s second Super Bowl title and first in 50 years, the Chiefs rebounded from at least 10 points down to win each of their three playoff games, something no NFL team ever had done.
Defensive tackle Frank Clark said he predicted his team’s latest comeback out loud on the field early in the fourth quarter when, he claimed, some of the 49ers already were celebrating.
“I went out on the next drive and told them, ‘Ya’ll ... going home just like the rest of ’em,’” Clark said. “Excuse my French. They told me to slow down on the cussing, but it’s the end of the season, so we gonna vibe.”
In advancing to Miami, Kansas City overcame a 24-0 deficit in the divisional round to the Houston Texans and a 10-0 hole in the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans.
What better coach to end the 50-year drought of the Kansas City Chiefs than the lovable Andy Reid, a man who endured a historic dry spell of his own.
The title-clinching rebound was orchestrated by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who passed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and was named the game’s most valuable player.
The 61-year-old Reid, in his 21st season, earned his first championship after entering Sunday with the most career victories of any NFL coach to never win a Super Bowl.
Kansas City’s 21-point fourth quarter matched the most productive in Super Bowl history and came right after Mahomes, 24, had one of the poorest stretches of his three-year career.
He threw interceptions on the Chiefs’ first two drives of the second half as they went from tied 10-10 at halftime to trailing by 10 points.
“Obviously, the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Mahomes said. “I tried to force some things. ... [But] the guys believed in me and gave me confidence to keep fighting.”
The Kansas City Chiefs celebrate after winning Super Bowl LIV over the San Francisco 49ers.
Down 20-10, Kansas City took over at its own 17-yard line with 8:53 to go. Mahomes drove the offense 83 yards in 10 plays and hit tight end Travis Kelce for a one-yard touchdown with just more than six minutes left.
The series included a conversion on third and 15 when Mahomes connected with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for 44 yards and another conversion on third and 10 when 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore was called for pass interference.
After Kansas City’s defense forced a three and out, Mahomes led the Chiefs downfield again, this time on a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended when he passed to running back Damien Williams for a five-yard touchdown and the lead with 2:44 left.
“I just went out there and kept competing,” Mahomes said. “I knew we weren’t in the ideal situation. I believed in my defense. ... The guys believed in me and started making plays, and we found a way to win.”
In his second season as a starter, Mahomes finished 26 for 42 for 286 yards and the two touchdowns with two interceptions. Noted for his dual-threat capabilities, he didn’t run wild but did gain 29 yards in nine carries. He also scored Kansas City’s first touchdown on a one-yard run.
What Mahomes mostly did Sunday was help awaken a high-powered and highly touted offense before it was too late. The Chiefs thrived all season behind their speed and playmaking abilities.
But they were bottled up by San Francisco for most of the first three quarters. Kansas City’s three longest plays all came in the final 7:13.
“These guys I have around me, we’ll enjoy this for a long time,” said Mahomes, who was the NFL’s MVP last season. “It truly is historic to be here and win this game.”
Williams finished with 104 yards in 17 carries. He added his second touchdown on a 38-yard run with 1:12 left after the 49ers had turned the ball over on downs.
Against the Chiefs, they had 141 yards rushing in 22 attempts. But quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was intercepted twice and their final four possessions netted no points.
Kansas City, meanwhile, finished off its Super Bowl run by doing exactly what it did to reach Super Bowl LIV.
“We have an ability as a team to figure out what the other team is doing and put our foot in the ground and say, ‘Enough is enough,’” Kelce said. “It’s special. We showed it throughout the playoffs and showed it even more tonight.”
The 49ers’ defense was unable to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for four quarters, surrendering a 10-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go.
Super Bowl LIV game recap
CHIEFS WIN SUPER BOWL — Kansas City holds on to defeat the 49ers 31-20 and capture their first championship in 50 years. An interception by Kendall Fuller off Jimmy Garoppolo with 57 seconds to go secured the win for the Chiefs.
CHIEFS TOUCHDOWN — 1:12, fourth quarter: Damien Williams scores on a 38-yard touchdown run to push Kansas City to a 31-20 lead with a little over a minute left to go.
Kansas City defuses the 49ers’ last drive by sacking quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on fourth down to get the ball back. An overthrown pass from Garoppolo to a wide open Emmanuel Sanders with under two minutes to go was San Francisco’s best chance to score a touchdown late.
CHIEFS TOUCHDOWN — 2:44, fourth quarter: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes connects on a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams, who just managed to get the ball over the plane of the end zone as he ran out of bounds. The play was reviewed extensively before the touchdown was confirmed. With the successful extra point, the Chiefs take a 24-20 lead.
The seven-play, 65-yard drive was fueled, in part, by a 38-yard pass reception by Sammy Watkins.
49ERS PUNT — 5:10, fourth quarter: San Francisco goes three and out on its ensuing possession. Chiefs take over at their own 35.
CHIEFS TOUCHDOWN — 6:13, fourth quarter: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes connects on a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. The extra point is good, and the Chiefs cut into the 49ers’ lead, 20-17.
A 20-yard pass interference call on 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore on a third-down pass attempt to Kelce on the play before kept the 10-play, 83-yard drive alive. A 44-yard pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill earlier in the drive also helped. Each team has all of their timeouts left.
49ERS PUNT — 8:53, fourth quarter: San Francisco’s drive after its interception sputters out at its own 37-yard line. The Chiefs take over on their own 17.
49ERS INTERCEPTION — 11:57, fourth quarter: A Patrick Mahomes pass intended for Tyreek Hill bounces out of the wide receiver’s hands and is grabbed by 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore, who returns it seven yards to the San Francisco 20-yard line. That’s Mahomes’ second pick of the game and it destroys a promising 12-play, 52-yard drive for the Chiefs.
END OF THE THIRD QUARTER — 49ers lead the Chiefs 20-10 as the fourth quarter gets underway. The Chiefs have the ball at their own 46-yard line.
49ERS TOUCHDOWN — 2:35, third quarter: Raheem Mostert scores on a one-yard touchdown carry to give San Francisco a 20-10 lead after the successful extra point.
An interception by linebacker Fred Warner gave the 49ers the ball at midfield before passes of 16 yards to Deebo Samuel and 26 yards to Kendrick Bourne put the 49ers in the red zone. A 10-yard completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk came just before Mostert’s touchdown.
How will Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs respond?
49ERS INTERCEPTION — 5:23, third quarter: Patrick Mahomes is picked off by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who returns it three yards to the 49ers’ 45. Both Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo have each thrown an interception tonight. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Garoppolo connects on a 16-yard pass to Deebo Samuel to put the 49ers in Chiefs territory.
49ERS FIELD GOAL — 9:29, third quarter: Robbie Gould kicks a 42-yard field goal to cap off a nine-play, 60-yard drive and give San Francisco a 13-10 lead.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY — The 49ers start from their own 16-yard line.
HALFTIME — A 42-yard completion to George Kittle is wiped out after the San Francisco 49ers tight end is called for offensive pass interference. If the call hadn’t been made, the 49ers would have been inside the Chiefs’ 10. The teams are tied 10-10 at halftime.
Chiefs quarterback completed 12 of 18 passes for 104 yards and ran in a touchdown during the first half. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed nine of 11 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also was picked off by Chiefs defensive back Bashaud Breeland during the second quarter.
Now it’s time for Jennifer Lopez and Shakira in the Super Bowl halftime show.
CHIEFS PUNT — :59, second quarter: Chiefs’ drive sputters at midfield. Dustin Colquitt punts into the end zone for a touchback with :59 seconds remaining in the first half. The 49ers have three timeouts left but don’t go far before the first half ends with the two teams tied 10-10.
49ERS TOUCHDOWN — 5:05, second quarter: Jimmy Garoppolo connects with fullback Kyle Juszczyk for a 15-yard touchdown. The extra point is good and the score is tied 10-10. The pass culminates an impressive, seven-play, 80-yard drive by the 49ers.
CHIEFS FIELD GOAL — 9:32, second quarter: Harrison Butker kicks a 31-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 10-3 lead. San Francisco’s defense comes up big to keep the Chiefs within striking distance on the scoreboard.
CHIEFS INTERCEPTION — 14:08, second quarter: Kansas City cornerback Bashaud Breeland picks off a pass by 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that was intended for Deebo Samuel. The pick came on the 49ers’ first possession after the Chiefs’ touchdown. On the next play, Patrick Mahomes connects on a 28-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to put the Chiefs on the 49ers’ 28 before a false start penalty by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif pushed them back five yards.
CHIEFS TOUCHDOWN — :31, first quarter: Patrick Mahomes scores a touchdown on a fake option from one yard out. The extra point is good, giving Chiefs a 7-3 lead. The 15-play drive went 75 yards. The 49ers trail in a game now for the first time this postseason.
49ERS FIELD GOAL — 7:57, first quarter: Robbie Gould kicks a 38-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 3-0 lead. The 49ers drive 62 yards and 10 plays to set up the field goal.
FIRST POSSESSION — 13:10, first quarter: Chiefs go three-and-out on their first possession of the game. Punter returner Richie James Jr. nearly fumbles away the ball while trying to make the catch, but manages to recover it on San Francisco 29-yard line. Teams that have won the coin toss have lost the last five Super Bowls.
NFL held a moment of silence to honor the lives of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others who lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26.
Who do you think will win Super Bowl LIV?
For a complete rundown of everything you need to know to enjoy the Super Bowl, check out our game guide. Also, there’s plenty of time before kickoff, so be sure to check out these Super Bowl articles:
Times staff writer Austin Knoblauch contributed to this report.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.