Super Bowl 2024: Kansas City Chiefs defend NFL title after beating San Francisco 49ers in overtime

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Mecole Hardman started the season with the New York Jets but returned to Kansas City to seal his third Super Bowl win with the Chiefs

By Ben Collins
BBC Sport

The Kansas City Chiefs fought back to beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime and win their third Super Bowl in five years.

The 49ers came into the first Super Bowl held in Las Vegas as the slight favourites and were twice on the brink of victory at Allegiant Stadium.

A last-gasp field goal by the Chiefs made it 19-19 to send the game into overtime, and although the 49ers edged back in front, Patrick Mahomes’ touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman meant defending champions Kansas City cemented their status as the first NFL dynasty since the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs have reached four of the past five Super Bowls and became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

At just 28, Mahomes has become the sixth quarterback in NFL history to win three or more Super Bowls, while Andy Reid has become the fifth coach to win three or more.

While Kansas City’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles last season was a high-scoring epic, this will be seen as a classic by anyone who likes to see defences get on top, with San Francisco leading 10-3 at half-time.

But Mahomes still proved the difference, steering the Chiefs within range to make their game-tying field goal before keeping alive the nail-biting drive which resulted in Hardman’s touchdown.

That condemned the 49ers and their coach Kyle Shanahan to another painful defeat. The Chiefs began their Super Bowl streak with a fourth-quarter fightback against San Francisco in 2020 and their latest win came in the second Super Bowl to go to overtime – the first saw the Patriots produce a record comeback in 2016 before beating the Atlanta Falcons, whose offensive coordinator was Shanahan.

The 49ers remain five-time Super Bowl winners but have now lost in the big games three times since their last NFL title in 1995.

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This year’s Super Bowl attracted arguably more interest than ever before, with the US television audience expected to eclipse the record 115 million for Kansas City’s win over the Eagles last year.

This was the first Super Bowl to be held in the entertainment capital of the world, Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the end-of-season awards ceremony in Vegas on Thursday and then there’s Taylor Swift.

The music superstar’s relationship with Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce has brought a wealth of new fans to the Chiefs and the NFL in general, and there have even been conspiracy theories about the team’s play-off run being rigged to maintain that new interest and help get US President Joe Biden re-elected.

This week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called those claims “nonsense”, while many media outlets speculated whether she would be able to attend the Super Bowl as she was performing in Tokyo on Saturday.

She made it, joining dozens of stars in the crowd at Allegiant Stadium, although it seemed she and Kelce would be disappointed at half-time. He took just one catch for one yard in the first half and showed his frustration by bumping into coach Reid and shouting in the 65-year-old’s face.

But Kelce, 34, ended the game with 93 receiving yards, with Mahomes passing for 333 yards and two touchdowns.

Mahomes also rushed for 66 yards, including a scramble on fourth down in overtime when failure to make a first down would have handed victory to the 49ers.

That ensured Mahomes was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player for a third time and he is the first to win the award back-to-back since Terry Bradshaw (1979 and 1980).

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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes: “The whole game was just a microcosm of our entire season. The defence kept us in there, with the offence making plays when it counted. I’m just so proud of the guys.

“I know we’re going to celebrate tonight, but we’re not done. We’ve got a young team and we’re going to keep this thing going.”

On Andy Reid: “I believe he’s the best coach of all time. I know he doesn’t have the trophies yet, but the way he’s able to navigate every single team he has, continue to have success no matter where he’s at – I don’t think I’d be the quarterback that I am if I didn’t have coach Reid as my head coach.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid: “Our defence played out of their mind. Our offence just kept persevering – kept pushing and pushing. I am so proud of the whole crew.”

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce: “We’ve been fighting for this all year. The goal has always been to get three [in a row] but you can’t do it without getting two and we’ve had a target on our back all year.

“We get a chance to do it all again next year. I’ll see you there. Viva Las Vegas!”

Shanahan fails to banish demons after blocked kick

While many hoped the two teams’ offensive stars would put on a show in the bright light city, defences dominated, which contributed to an error-strewn contest featuring four turnovers.

The first came on just the game’s fifth play after San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey coughed up just his third fumble of the season, although the 49ers still opened the scoring with a field goal at the start of the second quarter.

With Mahomes and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy struggling to get their offence going, San Francisco dialled up a trick play and wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who last threw a competitive pass in high school, found McCaffrey for a touchdown.

The Chiefs got on the board with a field goal right before half-time and they edged in front through a field goal and a Marquez Valdes-Scantling touchdown late in the third quarter.

The 49ers hit straight back and it looked as though Shanahan would banish the demons of his two previous Super Bowls after deciding to go for it on fourth down, with Purdy converting.

Two plays later he found Jennings, making him just the second player to both throw a touchdown pass and catch one in the same Super Bowl – after Nick Foles in the Eagles’ win over the Patriots in 2017.

But Jake Moody’s kick for the extra point was blocked, which proved crucial as it left the score at 16-13. The Chiefs could then tie it up with a field goal, as they did on the next drive and again with Harrison Butker’s fourth field goal that sent the game to overtime after Moody’s third had made it 19-16 with two minutes of regulation time remaining.

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