LAS VEGAS – Mecole Hardman Jr. caught a game-winning seven-yard touchdown reception with three seconds left in overtime, and the Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years on Sunday, beating the San Francisco 49ers. Francisco by a score of 25 to 22.
It was the second Super Bowl in history that was decided in overtime, after the one between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons in the last game of the 2016 season.
Patrick Mahomes led his attack on the 49ers goal, before offering Hardman a very precise pass for this new victory for Kansas City.
The legend continues to sign up for Andy Reid’s troop, which also triumphed in 2020 and then in 2023.
The Patriots are also the last team to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy two years in a row, at the end of the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
When asked after the game about the potential success of three titles in three years, Travis Kelce was transparent.
“Well, you know, the goal was always to do that,” the Chiefs star said.
It’s no surprise that Mahomes inherited the MVP title for this game. The quarterback completed 34 of 46 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
For his part, Brock Purdy was not a victim of a turnover and threw a touchdown pass while accumulating 255 yards. Christian McCaffrey has been the spark plug of the Niners’ offensive plan. He accumulated 80 yards alone and as many thanks to receptions in addition to scoring a major.
“I feel like we needed to execute better on third down. Our defense often stopped their attack with three straight punt attempts and not being able to take advantage of these situations, that’s what frustrates me,” the Niners quarterback stressed after the game.
“Obviously their offense is really good, Mahomes is great. We didn’t want to give them a chance to win the game with a touchdown. When I couldn’t get through to Jauan Jennings, it was difficult,” he added.
An exciting second half
Rookie kicker Jake Moody showed impressive composure to give the 49ers a three-point lead with 1:53 left on a 53-yard field goal, his second of the night from more than 50 yards.
But Harrison Butker counterattacked with three seconds left to force overtime, but not before the Chiefs gave themselves the opportunity to finish in spectacular fashion, having reached the pay zone.
Fred Warner covered Travis Kelce’s pass route well, and the star tight end was unable to make a catch that would have given the Chiefs their third Super Bowl in five years at the time.
Limited to two precision kicks from Butker while San Francisco’s defense proved to be indomitable, Kansas City reignited the suspense with 2:28 left in the third quarter, thanks to a most opportunistic turnover on special teams.
A Tommy Townsend punt hit Darrell Luter Jr.’s foot, and returner Ray-Ray McCloud III couldn’t adjust to the ball’s trajectory, almost miraculously leaving KC in possession at the 16-yard line.
One play was enough for Patrick Mahomes to give his team the first lead of the game. He saw Marques Valdez-Scantling, whom the Niners’ third baseman had left alone in the end zone.
Except this first priority for the Chiefs that night was short-lived: Jauan Jennings caught a pass for Brock Purdy’s middle finger on the 49ers’ next offensive push.
Despite a Moody post-touchdown conversion blocked by the Chiefs, the Niners regained control, 16-13.
Butker added a third field goal, this time from close range, to tie the game, the first of the matchup since his kickoff.
The 49ers dare to fix the game… and it pays off
With less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter, Christian McCaffrey scored the first touchdown of the game, giving the Californians a 10-0 lead.
To achieve this, the 49ers were clever, using a trick play: Purdy fired a lateral pass to Jauan Jennings, who turned toward the dynamic “CMC” on the other side of the formation.
The latter deftly advanced 21 yards to the end zone.
A push that gives hope
After accumulating painful offensive sequences, the Chiefs finally showed signs of life 20 seconds before halftime when Harrison Butker’s placement saved the American representatives from being nullified in the first half of the duel.
Moody scored the first points of the afternoon 12 seconds into the second quarter, when his long 55-yard attempt left no doubt.
It became, for about 90 minutes, the longest field goal in the Super Bowl, one yard ahead of Steve Christie of the Buffalo Bills in 1994.
Butker surpassed that mark by scoring 57 yards, bringing his club within four points (10-6) with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter.
Upon returning from halftime, the Chiefs once again found themselves with a defensive unit that continued to guess all their plans.
Mahomes’ second pass attempt of the half was intercepted by Ji’Ayir Brown. Fortunately for Mahomes and his gang, the Niners’ offense did nothing of value after this turnover, punting the ball without getting a first down.
An explosive play by the Chiefs… then a blunder
After Moody’s field goal that opened the scoring, Kansas City thought it was in good position to respond immediately, following a splendid 53-yard passing play to Mecole Hardman Jr. to the 9.
But the Niners defense showed off in a new way by forcing Pacheco’s fumble on the next offensive play. Javon Hargrave ran toward the ball that was in the field, much to the dismay of tight end Travis Kelce, who was seen yelling at his head coach Andy Reid on the sideline.
The only disappointment from a defensive point of view for the 49ers in the first half: linebacker Dre Greenlaw tore his Achilles tendon while celebrating too enthusiastically the action of one of his offensive teammates.
Starting the game with the ball, the 49ers methodically gained 46 yards before the Chiefs’ defensive unit announced its colors causing a McCaffrey fumble, recovered by defensive end George Karlaftis at the KC 27.
The Niners didn’t let this early change cause panic, however, as Patrick Mahomes and his offense couldn’t get a single first down, particularly due to a three-yard loss by Isiah Pachecho.
The excellence of the 49ers’ defensive coverage was the story of the first half of this defining matchup.
While the Chiefs’ offense was tied up, making a series of negative plays, quarterback Purdy and ” CMC » continued to gain pace, without reaching the pay zone.
This lack of opportunism was also crucial for the Chiefs to maintain the score, despite the clear dominance of the Niners’ defensive front for much of the match.