AP Pro Football Writer
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Uncomfortable and under duress for much of the game, Patrick Mahomes suddenly recaptured his mojo and lifted Andy Reid and the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory, the team’s first NFL championship in a half-century.
All it took was falling behind by double digits in the postseason again. Then Mahomes, selected MVP, hit two long passes on touchdown drives for a 31-20 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.
“We never lost faith,” Mahomes said. “That’s the biggest thing. Everybody on this team, no one had their head down. We believed in each other. That’s what we preached all year long.”
The vaunted 49ers defense wilted late, particularly on passes of 44 yards to Tyreek Hill and 38 to Sammy Watkins. The touchdowns came on short throws to Travis Kelce to cut the deficit to three and to Damien Williams for the lead. The first NFL title in Chiefs coach Reid’s two-decade career was clinched by Williams’ 38-yard TD run, sending red-clad Chiefs fan into chants of “Andy!” Andy!”
Reid, 61, won a Super Bowl ring with the 1996 Packers while in charge of tight ends. He’s been seeking one as a head coach since being hired by Philadelphia in 1999. The Eagles lost in their only trip to the big game after the 2004 season.
“This is what it’s all about,” Reid said. “What a great team, great coaches. Appreciate every bit of it.
The Chiefs (15-4) trailed 24-0 and 17-7 in their previous playoff games. This time, the Chiefs nearly didn’t have the time for a comeback.
Kansas City’s fans in the crowd of 62,417 at Hard Rock Stadium got little opportunity to chant and do the tomahawk chop as KC fell behind 20-10 with 17 1/2 minutes remaining.
Mahomes even threw his second interception of the night after that. But then came the kind of Mahomes magic that makes him special.
He found Hill, whose bobble led to the second San Francisco pick, for 44 yards on a third-and-15 — the first long pass completed by Kansas City. A 20-yard pass interference call on Tarvarius Moore, who had that earlier pick, put the ball at the 1 and Kelce was wide open for the score.
The Chiefs defense confounded by the Niners’ misdirection much of the game got stingy and forced a three-and-out. Mahomes soon hit Watkins down the right sideline behind Richard Sherman for a 38-yard gain, leading to Williams’ first score.
San Francisco (15-4) had nothing left in the fourth quarter, and its coach, Kyle Shanahan saw yet another late-game meltdown by his team. Three years ago, as offensive coordinator in Atlanta, he was part of the Falcons’ collapse and loss in overtime to New England.
Kansas City, an original AFL franchise, won the final Super Bowl before the full merger, beating Minnesota in 1970. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt even coined the phrase Super Bowl.
Now the Hunt family can add a Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Lamar Hunt Trophy earned with the AFC crown.
Chiefs defense comes through in Super Bowl triumph
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs had struggled all night to pick up their fizzling offense, and fans who had watched their defense let them down for years looked as if they were going to rue its performance once more on the game’s biggest stage.
That’s when new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense penned a different ending to the script.
The Chiefs forced the San Francisco 49ers into a pair of punts in the fourth quarter, when they were facing a double-digit deficit for the third straight game, and that gave Patrick Mahomes and Co. a chance.
Their young star threw a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, then another to Damien Williams, allowing Kansas City to rally for a heart-stopping 31-20 victory in the Super Bowl on Sunday night — the first championship for the long-suffering franchise in 50 years.
The 49ers still had a chance after Williams reached the ball over the pylon with 2:44 left, and a video review upheld the touchdown call that gave Kansas City the lead.
But after giving up a first down, a defense that carried a newfound sense of purpose — “swagger,” safety Tyrann Mathieu called it — made four consecutive plays when they mattered most.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw three straight incompletions, then the 49ers quarterback was sacked by Frank Clark, the $105.5 million offseason acquisition. That gave the Chiefs the ball back, Williams got loose for a clinching touchdown, and Kendall Fuller picked off a desperation pass deep downfield in the final moments to complete the standout defensive performance.
Back in Kansas City, a fanbase that hadn’t celebrated a title since the Nixon administration was finally able to exhale.
The Chiefs’ defense has been the bane of the organization for years — especially in the postseason. There was the divisional loss to the Colts in the 2003 season in which nobody punted, and the 45-44 collapse in Indianapolis in the wild-card round in the 2013 season when the Chiefs blew a 31-10 halftime lead and coach Andy Reid was once again ridiculed for his inability to win the big one.
The most heartbreaking loss, though, was the one that spurred the Chiefs to make wholesale changes last offseason.
They failed to get Tom Brady and the New England Patriots off the field in overtime in the AFC championship game, never giving Mahomes and the NFL’s best offense an opportunity with the ball.
Well, the rebuilt defense got the 49ers off the field. And Mahomes and the Chiefs did the rest, giving Reid his long-awaited Super Bowl triumph and washing away all those other postseason failures.
The defense wound up holding Garoppolo to 219 yards passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. It held one of the NFL’s best ground attacks to 141 yards rushing. And it finally quit biting on trick plays and end-arounds that caused them fits the entire first half, playing the kind of defense down the stretch that Kansas City has sought for years.
When the final seconds finally ticked off the clock, Clark ripped off his helmet and ran the length of the field, falling to his knees and staring into the sky. Mathieu pranced around in celebration, his own roller-coaster journey reaching its climax.
The defensive line that consistently put pressure on Garoppolo down the stretch looked like giddy schoolchildren as they hugged amid the flying confetti, the celebration five decades in the making finally playing out on a field in Miami.
Shanahan suffers another Super Bowl collapse
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Shanahan will now have another Super Bowl collapse to answer questions about.
After being peppered all week by reporters seeking to rehash that blown 28-3 lead to New England three years ago when Shanahan was offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Shanahan’s first trip to the Super Bowl as a head coach ended in another late-game meltdown.
The 49ers became the third team in Super Bowl history to give up a 10-point lead in the second half when they blew a 20-10 advantage and lost 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
In two trips to the Super Bowl, Shanahan’s teams have been outscored 46-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime and he can only think about what went wrong to cost him two championships.
Shanahan has now had seven drives as a play-caller in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls and his teams have four punts, two turnovers, one failed fourth down and only six first downs.
The 49ers appeared to be firmly in control when they intercepted Patrick Mahomes for a second time with 11:57 to play and a 10-point lead.
But then the coach known as perhaps one of the league’s most innovative play-callers couldn’t dial up the right plays to help the 49ers seal the win.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed a 12-yard pass to George Kittle to give the Niners a first down with less than 11 minutes to play. But Raheem Mostert was stopped for 1 yard, Garoppolo threw an incompletion on second down and then was forced into a short scramble on third down following a false start on Joe Staley.
That forced a punt and Mahomes led an 83-yard drive that got the Chiefs right back into the game.
The Niners still had a chance to seal it with a productive drive on offense but a first down run followed by two incompletions gave the Chiefs the ball back again.
Mahomes led another TD drive to give the Chiefs a 24-20 lead, setting the stage for Garoppolo to lead a late-game comeback in the final 2:39.
The Niners managed to move the ball across midfield following the two-minute warning before three straight incompletions and a fourth-down sack ended the chance for Shanahan to join his father, Mike, as the only father-son Super Bowl champion coaches.
The Chiefs added a late TD and then Garoppolo’s desperation interception ended any comeback chance for the 49ers.
At the Super Bowl, they remembered Kobe Bryant
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Even at the Super Bowl, they mourned Kobe Bryant.
San Francisco’s Richard Sherman showed up for the Super Bowl in a Bryant jersey, the start of numerous honors dedicated to the basketball legend on football’s biggest day. Among them: Players from the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers lined up for a moment of silence to commemorate all nine victims of last weekend’s helicopter crash, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The teams stood on their respective 24-yard lines — in tribute to Bryant’s No. 24 jersey. Some fans at the game wore Lakers jerseys, and a few even had Bryant’s Lower Merion High School jersey.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please join in a moment of silence as the 49ers, Chiefs, and National Football League extend our deepest condolences to the friends and families of those lost this past week. … They will never be forgotten,” was the message that blared through Hard Rock Stadium.
As that announcement was being made, two of the stadium’s four video screens showed an image of Bryant and the names of the other eight victims of the crash. The other two video screens showed an image of longtime Minnesota Vikings star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who also died last week.
Sherman also appeared on Fox’s pregame show to read a poem called “Dear Football” — adapting most of what he said from Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” poem that he penned as a way of announcing that the 2015-16 season would be his last with the Lakers and in the NBA.
“I played through the sweat and hurt. Not because challenge called me. But because YOU called me,” Sherman read, copying Bryant’s words exactly in that particular passage. “I did everything for YOU. Because that’s what you do when someone makes you feel as alive as you’ve made me feel.”
During warmups at the Super Bowl, plenty of players wore cleats designed with various tributes to Bryant. San Francisco’s Dante Pettis had purple-and-gold ones with the words “Mamba Out” — the final two words of Bryant’s retirement speech following his 60-point farewell game in 2016 — emblazoned on the sides. The 49ers’ Emmanuel Sanders wore a pair with the words “Rest In Peace” and Kansas City’s Demarcus Robinson had images of Bryant and his number 24 on his cleats.
Tributes all over other aspects of the sports world continued Sunday, exactly one week after the crash. At the Miami-Pittsburgh men’s college basketball game, Pitt fans tossed purple and gold confetti — Lakers colors — in the air after the Panthers scored their first basket. And before a Serie A soccer match at Olympic Stadium in Rome between Lazio and Spal, Bryant’s photo was displayed on the jumbo video screens.
At the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, the tour joined players with a 16th-hole tribute to Bryant by using his two Lakers uniform numbers to cut the final-round pin position on the stadium par 3.
The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge on the rowdy hole that holds more than 20,000 fans. The yellow flag had a 24 on one side and an 8 on the other, and large matching numbers were painted in the grass in front of the green.
On Saturday night, Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild skated in a 24 jersey — another way of paying homage to Bryant.
The NFL also announced that it was auctioning 20 autographed helmets and footballs to benefit The Mamba Sports Foundation. Some of those who autographed items included NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, Peyton Manning, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ciara and Russell Wilson, Stephon Gilmore, Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin, John Harbaugh, Christian McCaffrey, Kyler Murray, Paul Rudd, Deion Sanders, Michael Thomas, and all members of 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Sherman ended his poem with “We love you, Kobe. We love you, Gianna. Love always, Richard.”
Lopez, Shakira in joyful, exuberant halftime show
NEW YORK (AP) — Seizing their opportunity to make a cultural statement, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira infused the Super Bowl halftime show with an exuberance and joy that celebrated their Latina heritage.
Their breathless athleticism matched that of the football players waiting in the locker room.
Shakira opened with, yes, a hip-shaking performance of “She Wolf” and a fast-moving medley that included bits of “She Wolf,” “Whenever, Wherever” and a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” She managed a belly dance, some rope dancing and even backed into a crowd surf. Shakira ended her with her signature song, “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Lopez, in a black leather outfit that her dancers matched, started with a nostalgic snippet of “Jenny From the Block.” She exhibited some startling pole-dancing moves, a reference to her much-celebrated turn in the movie “Hustlers.” At one point she bent into a deep squat while standing on the shoulders of a dancer that likely had muscles aching across the country in sympathy.
She tore through “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Get Right, “On the Floor” and “Que Calor,” finding time to slip away from the black leather in to sparkling silver outfit that left little to the imagination.
Having, essentially, an opening act for a concert that stretches not much longer than a dozen minutes was a risky move. At times the performance seemed rushed, as if they were trying to say too much in too short of time. The guest acts, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny, were superfluous and only served to better emphasize the talents of the headliners.
The first halftime show to celebrate Latino artists could rightly be declared a success, and it also bodes well for the management of Jay-Z, who packaged the program for the first time on a new deal with the NFL.
Memorably, Lopez’s daughter, Emme, joined her mother for a verse of “Let’s Get Loud,” where the 11-year girl sang the chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Her mother then held out her arms and showed off a red, white and blue cape to the crowd that was a representation of the Puerto Rican flag in its inner lining, with the stars and stripes on the outside.
It was a reminder to a television audience that approached 100 million that a different part of America was making a powerful statement in favor of inclusion.
The two women came together at the end to sing “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” the song Shakira composed that was the theme of the 2010 World Cup.
“Muchas gracias,” Shakira said as the camera pulled away.
“Thank you so much,” Lopez said.