With nine minutes to play, the Super Bowl was firmly in the grasp of the San Francisco 49ers. They had the momentum and they had Kanssa City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looking panicked – they even got the bounce of the ball.
Mahomes had driven the Chiefs into the 49ers RedZone when a pass, just a few inches off target, was tipped towrds the waiting Taravius Moore, or should I say waiting thigh of Moore. He trapped the ball against his leg and SanFrancisco took took possession with a 20-10 lead.
Back in 2017, evaluators looking at Patrick Mahomes as he prepared for the NFL Draft described the Texas Tech quarterback as a “human highlight reel who can make plays downfield”. But with the good also came bad. Mahomes was also labelled “inconsistent”, “lacking discipline” and “brings unwanted trouble” – traits a lot of coaches avoid.
In a weak quarterback class, Mahomes was ranked as low as the eighth best at the position, but Andy Reid spotted something, and the Chiefs coach took a chance.
Reid, known as quarterback guru after developing Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Alex Smith, knew that he would have to work hard with Mahomes to get the player ready for the NFL. Still, he saw intangibles that no other quarterback had.
Mahomes sat out most of his first season deputising for Smith, while coming to terms with making calls under centre and identifying defensive systems – things he hadn’t been required to do in college. The quarterback got his first start in week 17 as the Chiefs rested their starters. In his brief outing, head coach, Andy Reid became convinced he had the man to lead the franchise.
That off season Alex Smith, the previous starting quarterback, was traded, and Mahomes took over.
In his first full season, Mahomes threw 50 touchdowns, passed for more than 5,000 yards and was one play away from beating the Patriots and making a Super Bowl appearance. His performances week in week out were enough to convince the voters, and Patrick Mahomes ended up as the leagues most valuable player.
A sophomore slump was expected this season, and it arrived. But it wasn’t anywhere near the downturn most suffer. Mahomes threw (only) 26 touchdowns but also threw fewer interceptions and passed for just over 4,000 yards. Hw also, however, showed real leadership. Mahomes was here to stay.
In this year’s play-off run the quarterback staged two comebacks, one from 24 points down and another from ten behind to book The Chiefs place in the Super Bowl.
So, when they were down 20-10 with nine minutes to play in the big one, Mahomes was just getting started.
The Chiefs defense seemed to step up after some urging from Safety Tyron Mathieu and they quickly stopped the 49ers offense.
Then, with the ball back in hand, the seemingly shaken Mahomes suddenly looked different.
He threw a ball across the field and, while it seemed Tyreek Hill had caught the it, a replay showed differently.
With the ball deep in the Chiefs half and facing third and 15, Mahomes stepped back and split the Niners defense. Three plays later the score was 20-17.
The train was back on the tracks.
When the Chiefs got the ball back they once again quickly moved the ball downfield to take the lead on a play ruled a touchdown on the field but so close that the Niners have a right to feel aggrieved.
The next drive for the Chiefs took two plays, with not even the Chiefs expecting it to end with a touchdown. They set up to run the ball and take time off the clock but, when Damien Williams reached the outside and found space, there was no stopping him.
In six minutes and 14 seconds, Kansas City had once again turned a 20-10 loss into a 31-20 win.
Andy Reid took a risk three years ago, and no one deserves this win more than him. The esteem and love the team has for their coach was evident in every player’s post-game interview. But Mahomes said it best by speaking directly to the coach in a TV interview and dedicating the win, Reid’s 222nd, to his mentor.