By Aiden Wacksman
Before Sunday, Feb. 2, the Kansas City Chiefs hadn’t won a Super Bowl in 50 years. In the third quarter of this years’ Super Bowl, it appeared the Chiefs wouldn’t be returning to Kansas City with the Lombardi trophy. This, however, was about to change, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes made one of the most admirable comebacks in Super Bowl history.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Kansas City was once again considered a playoff contender and a team with talent across the board. NFL fans across the country had high expectations for Mahomes, as he won the 2018 regular season Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Mahomes also had many weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins looked to make a positive impact on the Chiefs’ passing game.
After a 4-0 start to the season, Kansas City faced adversity as the Chiefs lost four of its next six games, putting the team’s record at 6-4. During this stretch, Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Luckily, he was able to make a speedy recovery and returned in Week 10. After a heartbreaking loss to the Tennessee Titans, a healthy Mahomes led Kansas City to win each of its next six games, and the Chiefs finished the season with a 12-4 record.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, Kansas City played the Houston Texans. When the two teams squared off earlier in the season, the Texans came away with the win. The Chiefs wanted revenge and a trip to the AFC Championship, which was accomplished. This win, however, was very different compared to other wins the Chiefs had during the regular season. At the start of the game, the Chiefs looked disorganized and inefficient, and in the second quarter, Kansas City trailed by more than three touchdowns. At this moment, the team leaders stepped up to the plate with Mahomes on offense, and Tyrann Mathieu on defense. In a press conference after the game, Mahomes said he encouraged his teammates to stay positive and not give up. “Let’s just go play-by-play and just put our best effort out there,” he said.After Houston failed to execute a fake punt with a 24-7 lead, Kansas City was able to organize a dominant comeback, scoring 41 unanswered points in a 51-31 win.
Next up: the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee looked unstoppable on offense and well-coached on defense. In the first quarter, Tennessee looked dominant on both sides of the ball. This dominance, however, was short lived as Mahomes and company scored two touchdowns before halftime, earning a 21-17 lead. In the second half, the Chiefs successfully put the game out of reach for the Titans when Mahomes made a dazzling 35 yard touchdown run. Kansas City walked out of Arrowhead Stadium with a victory and a trip to Super Bowl LII.
On the big day, the Chiefs would face off against the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. In the first half, the game went back and forth with a tied game at halftime.
In the third quarter, the 49ers took control. San Francisco’s offense was finding the weak spots in the Chiefs’ defense, and Mahomes looked impatient and sloppy. Going into the fourth quarter, the 49ers led by 10. This was the moment in which Mahomes would establish himself as one of the best playoff comeback artists in the league. Toward the beginning of the fourth quarter, the 49ers were maintaining the lead. Now, however, was when Mahomes turned on his “Mahomes magic”, something he did often this season. Kansas City orchestrated a beautiful touchdown drive that cut the 49ers lead to three points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs’ defense was able to make a crucial stand against the 49ers offense, and Mahomes got the ball back with five minutes to go. The highlight of the ensuing touchdown drive was Mahomes’ flawless 38-yard pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who beat 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman to make the big play happen. A couple of plays later, Mahomes passed the ball to running back Damien Williams to grant the Chiefs a four point lead.
The rest of the game was best summed up by a 38-yard touchdown run by Williams to put the Chiefs in the perfect position to win. Once the game clock hit zero, the Chiefs were officially champions. Mahomes ability to remain calm through adversity and to never give up throughout the playoffs was incredible. At one point in every single playoff game, Super Bowl included, Kansas City trailed by 10 or more points. This, however, wasn’t enough to stop Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs team. His stats in the playoffs are absolutely astounding for a second year starter: nearly 1,500 yards passing, 13 touchdowns, and two interceptions, along with regular season and Super Bowl MVP awards. Mahomes is the future of the NFL, and he’s just getting started on his journey to become a G.O.A.T.