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Back to back! Chiefs win Missouri its 5th Super Bowl, toppling 49ers in overtime

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce holds his helmet and yells in celebration.
Mikayla Schmidt
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.

The Kansas City Chiefs have won their third Super Bowl title in five years, and are the first back-to-back NFL champions in almost 20 years.

Kansas City came from behind in Super Bowl 58, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22 in overtime, at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium. It’s the Chiefs franchise’s fourth NFL championship, and it thwarted a 49ers attempt to avenge a Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs four years ago.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed the game-winning drive on a three-yard toss to receiver Mecole Hardman. Mahomes finished the game with 34 completions on 46 attempts and two touchdowns.

“The whole game was our whole entire season,” Mahomes said from the victory stage after the game. “Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs.”

For the third time in his career, Mahomes was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

“Defense played out of their mind … special teams jumped up there and dominated right at the end,” coach Andy Reid said. “I’m so proud of the whole group.”

Shortly after the game, Kansas City Mayor Lucas announced plans for a Super Bowl victory parade on Wednesday, Feb. 14. As in previous years, the event will include a rally in front of Union Station.

Even before the big game, Kansas City Public Schools and the Independence School District announced there will be no school on Wednesday if there’s a parade.

“I can’t ask for anything better than this,” Mahomes said. “Kansas City, I’ll see ya’ll at the parade.”

Fans gathered downtown at the Power and Light District to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024.
Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
Fans gathered downtown at the Power and Light District to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024.

A hard-fought win

The Chiefs appeared rattled and frustrated numerous times in the opening half, which ended with San Francisco holding a 10-3 lead.

Kansas City got their first major break on the 49ers' opening drive, when linebacker Leo Chenal forced a fumble. Chiefs defensive end George Karlaftis recovered it, but the Chiefs weren’t able to get a first down. The drive foretold how the opening half would go.

The 49ers outgained the Chiefs in the first quarter, 125 yards to 16.

A second-quarter unnecessary roughness penalty on L’Jarius Sneed moved San Francisco to the Chiefs’ 21 yard line. Two plays later the 49ers scored the game’s first touchdown, giving them a 10-0 lead.

The touchdown was a razzle-dazzle play that Chiefs' coach Reid could have pulled from his playbook: After 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy lateraled wide to receiver Jauan Jennings, Jennings hurled a 21-yard touchdown throw across the field to Christian McCaffrey.

Earlier in the second quarter, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed a 53-yard pass to Mecole Hardman. But with the ball at the 49ers' 9-yard line, Pacheco fumbled and San Francisco recovered.

The Chiefs had the ball inside the San Francisco scoring zone twice, but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the half.

Travis Kelce had only one reception for one yard in the opening half.

The second half got off to an ominous start on the first play from scrimmage with a botched pitch between Mahomes and running back Isaiah Pacheco. Two plays later, Mahomes threw his first interception of the postseason on a pass intended for receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes runs with the ball and points to the rights mid-stride.
David Grey
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes runs with the ball in the second half of Super Bowl 58 against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas.

The Chiefs’ grabbed their first lead in the third quarter, with a 16-yard pass from Mahomes to Valdes-Scantling, who was wide open in the end zone.

Despite the continued struggles by the Chiefs offense in the second half, they had a 13-10 lead after the third quarter.

The saving grace for the Chiefs, as it had been all year, was the defense, and the kicking of Harrison Butker, who set a Super Bowl record Sunday with a 57-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the San Francisco lead to 10-6.

After a back-and-forth final quarter of regulation that included four lead changes, the game went into overtime when Butker kicked a 29-yard field with six seconds left.

In the first possession of overtime, San Francisco managed to drive the ball 66 yards down the field, but Kansas City’s defense stiffened and held the 49ers to a field goal.

“As soon as they kicked that field goal we knew we were going to go down the field and score,” Chiefs center Creed Humphrey told the media after the game. “We knew we could come back … that was just another chance to face adversity”

Mahomes capped off the game’s final, 75-yard drive with a 3 yard pass for the win.

“We knew what we needed to do to win,” said Chiefs tackle Jawaan Taylor after the game.

“We prepare for the deep moments when it gets hard,” said rookie receiver Rashee Rice. “Just stick to the plan, stick to everything that we prepare for.”

“It’s been amazing. (I’m) super grateful to Pat, I’m blessed to play in the Super Bowl with that man,” he said.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. celebrates in the end zone with quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. celebrates his game-winning touchdown with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) in overtime during the NFL Super Bowl 58. The Chiefs won 25-22 against the San Francisco 49ers.

An up and down season

It wasn’t easy down the stretch, but the Chiefs managed to clinch their eighth straight AFC West title on New Year’s Eve against the Cincinnati Bengals. The win officially put the Chiefs in the playoffs, and eliminated the Bengals, one of Kansas City’s biggest nemeses in recent years.

Before beating the Bengals, the Chiefs had lost four of their previous six games, including a dreadful Christmas Day loss against their archrivals, the Las Vegas Raiders.

Still, Kansas City was never seriously challenged in the division standings this season, and their streak of divisional titles is the second longest in NFL history. Only New England has a longer streak, with eleven AFC East titles between 2009 and 2019.

Tight end Travis Kelce, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and others in the Chiefs’ receiving corps were criticized throughout the regular season for an abundance of dropped passes, but they seemed to shake things off once the playoffs began.

Valdes-Scantling caught the pass that sealed the AFC Championship victory in Baltimore, and, in the Las Vegas Super Bowl, it was Mecole Hardman who pulled in the game-winning pass.

“I blacked out when I caught the ball, man,” Hardman admitted after the game.

From the victory podium, Kelce noted the target that seemed to be on the team’s back for most of the season — one that made this Super Bowl victory seem so unlikely.

“You’ve got to fight for the right to party!” he yelled. “Believe it baby, I’ll see y’all next year!”

Greg Echlin is a sports reporter at KCUR in Kansas City.