After Slow Start, Chiefs Pull Off Super Bowl Victory Over The 49ers

Feb 3, 2020
Originally published on February 3, 2020 7:11 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It has taken 50 years, but the Kansas City Chiefs are once again champions of professional football. Last night in Miami, the Chiefs won Super Bowl 54 in dramatic fashion, coming from behind in the final quarter to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. It was longtime head coach Andy Reid's first title. And as NPR's Tom Goldman reports, comebacks officially are now a thing with the new champions.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: In the divisional round of this NFL postseason, Kansas City trailed Houston by 24 points before roaring back. In the next round, the Chiefs fell behind Tennessee by 10 before winning. So two times in a row is starting to be a trend. Kansas City really needed one more to officially earn the comeback kids label.

Last night, it didn't look good. The 49ers were the better team for much of the game and had a 20-10 lead well into the final quarter. CBS football analyst and former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask was pretty sure it was the Niners' night.

AMY TRASK: When the 49ers were ahead by 10 with the time remaining in the game at that point, I turned to someone and I said, this is going to be hard to overcome because the 49ers' defense is so good.

GOLDMAN: But so is that Chiefs offense.

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JOE BUCK: Chiefs need some Mahomes magic.

GOLDMAN: With about seven minutes left, KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back to pass.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUPER BOWL 54 TELECAST)

BUCK: Launches down the middle. Hill, open - caught.

(CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: A 44-yard completion from Mahomes to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, heard here on Fox, finally was the big play the Chiefs had been hunting and denied all night. A few plays later, KC touchdown - then another, then another - wedged in between excellent Kansas City defense that stopped San Francisco and turned the ball back over to the surging offense. Tight end Travis Kelce described to ESPN what it was like in the KC huddle.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRAVIS KELCE: It was a mindset. I could look at every single one of the guys in that huddle and I knew that we all had one goal in mind. And we weren't going to be stopped.

GOLDMAN: And so they made the label official. The Comeback Chiefs are the first team ever to fall behind by double digits in three games in the same postseason and win all three games. Amy Trask knows stick-to-itiveness isn't really a word. But, she says, it describes these Chiefs.

TRASK: An example of teams continuing to work through things that aren't working.

GOLDMAN: It also helps to have a special quarterback in Mahomes. Only 24, he's the youngest player to win a regular season MVP award, last year, and now a Super Bowl. He also was the MVP of last night's game. With this being the first time since the 2015 season that New England and Tom Brady weren't in the Super Bowl, it's tempting to proclaim a changing of the guard - maybe not yet. But there seems to be a case for Mahomes and the Chiefs getting back to this stage very soon.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.