Patrick Mahomes Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs simply could not be contained. They say defense wins championships — and just as it so, so often does, it so, so nearly did again.

But the normal rules don’t apply to Patrick Mahomes and these Kansas City Chiefs, the newest kings of the National Football League.

It didn’t matter that the San Francisco 49ers worked a near-perfect plan to foil the superstar quarterback, or that he didn’t have a particularly good night until late. It didn’t matter about the 10-point hole or the 3rd-and-plenties or the fact that time seemed to be running out.

When you have an arm infused with magical force and an army of buzzing receivers ready to spread far and wide to collect those laser darts, all kinds of problems fade into insignificance.

The finest stifling tactics are laid to waste. A form slump is erased in an instant. Deficits are cut down in moments and time seems like it is frozen. With the final quarter approaching its midway point and two scores in arrears, history told us the Chiefs were in trouble. Recent reality and Mahomes’ transcendent abilities showed us they actually weren’t.

“I never have that mindset of (losing),” Mahomes told reporters afterwards. “I knew we weren’t in the ideal situation. But my mindset is always to play and compete until the very end.”

You don’t need to have a fear of losing when you have the tools to suddenly snatch glory from adversity. The Chiefs trailed by 24 points (to Houston) in the divisional round and by 10 (to Tennessee) in the AFC Championship. This comeback, with everything at stake, was more impressive than both.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan will take some heat for different decisions regarding play calling and first half clock management, but he got his team mightily close to the ideal end to an extraordinary season. Then he (and they) ran into a buzzsaw. Mahomes’ throw to Tyreek Hill, a 44-yarder on 3rd-and-15 with 7:13 left, turned the game on its head. And, before Kansas City even took the lead, their momentum was such that a comeback began to feel inevitable.

The 49ers did so much right. They put pressure on Mahomes; forced him into awkward looks. They showed him everything in their arsenal and he still figured it out. They picked him off twice, sacked him, got clutch plays out of their own offense … and still it couldn’t kill him off.

“The (Chiefs) can score very fast,” Shanahan said. “That team doesn’t do it every drive, but it was a matter of time. They got a lot of plays.”

It was a strange sort of Super Bowl in some ways. It was a thrilling game between two excellent teams and the feel-good story of a long-awaited title for Andy Reid. It also turned in a heartbeat and the loser didn’t do much wrong. There was no scapegoat for the 49ers, just a lot of hurt souls left wondering how it slipped away so suddenly.

The 49ers fought and hustled and gave all they had. They held firm and tough and were right on the brink. And then, just like that, they weren’t, with the confetti falling and the Chiefs being anointed instead.

There are all kinds of things that go into winning a Super Bowl, but having a quarterback capable of springing into unstoppable life at any moment is a pretty powerful one to have in your favor.

“Doesn’t matter what the score is,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce told FOX Sports. “We’ve got Pat Mahomes, we’ve got an unbelievable defense and they’ll put their foot in the ground against anybody.

“It’s magic Mahomes, it’s Showtime Mahomes. He’s going to be himself no matter what the scenario is. I love him; he willed this team back into the game.”

For all the talk of history, with it having been a full half-century since the Chiefs had appeared in the biggest game of all, this is as modern a football team as it gets. Fearless, relentless and capable of moving at remarkable pace, it sometimes feels like the only way to beat them is if they beat themselves.

Football at this level is wildly unpredictable, and who knows what the future holds for this group, but if Mahomes continues in this vein, the Chiefs organization has a potential platform to build a long-lasting juggernaut.

Some titles are won using tried and true methods, the victor having simply employed the basics at a higher and more efficient level than their opponent. These Chiefs are very different. They play their own way, and it is a way that no one else can replicate.

For no one else has Patrick Mahomes, nor anything close to him. He’s 24 and if he has his way, he’s only just getting started on a career filled with nights like this one. He is the ultimate problem for rivals to decipher. For now, there is no solution.

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