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Mahomes takes it to the limit to make Super Bowl history

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates with team-mates. Photo: Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates with team-mates. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates with team-mates. Photo: Getty Images

They told us this game would only begin when Kansas City were down by 10 points. How right they were.

For 51 minutes of the 60 this was the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl. A stage that was meant to be Patrick Mahomes' was anything but as Kyle Shanahan and his juggernaut team pitched another near-perfect game. When KC's QB missed linebacker Fred Warner covering underneath a 164 interception-less postseason attempts streak was over.

When running back Raheem Mostert crashed over from a yard out on the resulting drive so were the Chiefs chances of ending the second-longest title drought in NFL history.

Or so we all thought. Once again Kansas City found themselves in a dark hole but once again their all-world quarterback found a way to lead them back into the light. Just as he had against the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans earlier in this incredible postseason run, Mahomes did what so few quarterbacks in the game can do - he made what had seemed impossible, possible.

Relentless

After a game where the Niners took away the deep shot, played sticky on the back end and, with the relentless Nick Bosa playing with his hair on fire, brought the house down in, down out, Mahomes found just enough time on 3rd and 15 to hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill for a 44-yard gain.

A laser to tight end Travis Kelce four plays later and the deficit was three. A punt and a 38-yard rainbow over Richard Sherman to Sammy Watkins set up another scoring shot. Running back Damien Williams dived in over the right pylon and KC had a scarcely believable lead they would never relinquish.

Two possessions in five minutes and six seconds, 14 points and one quarterback who never knows when he's beaten. Williams' 38-yard saunter around the edge merely iced it. The Houdini act was already complete. KC trailed by a combined 42 points in the play-offs. They went on to win by 44.

"We never lost faith, I mean that's the biggest thing," Mahomes would say afterwards. "Everybody on this team, no one had their head down and we believed in each other and that's what we preached all year long - we found a way to get it in the end."

For so much of this one it was Shanahan's day, the offensive genius son of Mike following in his father's footsteps plotting his way to becoming a world champion head coach just like his dad. Just as he had throughout a breakthrough season he put together a masterclass of scheme and counter-scheme, every punch countered, every advance neutralised. But this is Mahomes. There are only so many blows you can land before he climbs back off the canvas and hits you back.

The truth too is this wasn't even his best day. The throw that Warner had all the time in the world to pick off was a horror. The one behind Hill that Tarvarius Moore gobbled up off the deflection was nearly as bad. But when the Kelce score was followed by a Chiefs defence that was confounded by the Niners' motion and misdirection for so much of the night stiffening just when it needed it most to force a three-and-out, that was all Mahomes needed to put the game away from them for good.

Questions will linger over Shanahan's play-calling in the eye of the fourth-quarter stort. The demons of the infamous 28-3 of three years ago, exorcised for so long on Sunday night, will be brought back up and be back under the bed at night. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's decision-making on his first-half and second-half picks will too come under the microscope as will his own fourth quarter to forget.

But that can all wait. After a 50-year hiatus this was Kansas City's night.

"Those guys around us, the leaders of this team, they have the mindset that we never give up," Mahomes said. "We're going to fight to the end."

They truly did. Even when the most ardent of believers began to wane, they didn't. And they woke up world champions because of it.

Irish Independent