This is one they’ll talk about for as long as they play this game, for as long as there are water-cooler debates about the best teams, the ones good enough to be talked about as dynasties.
The Lombardi Packers won five championships, but the singular moment for which they are remembered is Bart Starr blasting in behind Jerry Kramer to beat the Cowboys at the end of the Ice Bowl, a game which they had every reason to lose except one: it wasn’t fathomable for anyone on the Green Bay sideline that they would lose.
The Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Patriots won six championships, and they are all savored in New England like thousand-dollar bottles of wine. But two stick out: the wins over Seattle in Super Bowl LXIX and against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. They needed a last-minute interception in one and a forever comeback in the other, and maybe both seemed miraculous except by then the Patriots simply knew how to win games like that better than anyone in the sport.
The true dynasties, that’s what binds them. That’s what connects them. And now, into that tapestry, we can officially weave the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid Chiefs, who spent large chunks of Super Bowl 2024 looking completely outmatched, who had to come back from 10-0 early and 19-16 late in the fourth and then, at last, from 22-19 in overtime.
Patrick Mahomes celebrates after winning Super Bowl 2024. AP
Patrick Mahomes lifts up the Lombardi Trophy after the Chiefs’ win Super Bowl 2024. AP
“It was awesome,” Mahomes said when it was over, after he’d found Mecole Hardman for a 3-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in overtime, giving the Chiefs a 25-22 win over the 49ers, a second-straight Lombardi Trophy, and a third championship in five years.
“It was,” Mahomes said, “legendary.”
It was. It is. The Chiefs splashed onto the national football consciousness a few years ago because they could score points like a pinball machine, because Mahomes played the game and the position of quarterback at a level that only a select few have ever known. As they’ve kept winning they’ve plunged into the world of pop culture, too, and that was before the most famous singer in the world was inducted into Chiefs Nation.
But one thing that’s been apparent about the Chiefs is this: if you have the chance to beat them, you’d better finish them off. That’s true in September in Kansas City and November in Denver, but it’s most true in January and February.
In all three of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl wins they have trailed in the fourth quarter, and this time they also spotted the 49ers a three-point lead in overtime. This is a team that once rallied from 24-0 down to win a playoff game, that somehow managed to tie a playoff game against Buffalo in only 13 seconds. Since 2019, the Chiefs are now 5-1 when trailing by 10-plus points at any point in the playoffs; the rest of the league is 6-48 in those games in that span.
And these way five weeks they have won four straight games, the last three of which they were underdogs.
“The whole game was our entire season,” Mahomes said. “The defense keeping us in there and the offense making plays when it counted. I’m proud of the guys, they kept believing.”
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Then he smiled.
“The Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs,” he said. “Just know that.”
When the Packers were at their best, and the Pats, and the Chuck Noll Steelers and the Joe Montana 49ers, you always bet against them at your own risk. That didn’t mean they won every week. It didn’t mean they won championships every year. But before they would shake your hands in defeat, they were going to make you bleed and brawl first.
Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during Super Bowl 2024. USA TODAY Sports
Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift celebrate on the field after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl 2024. REUTERS
The great teams do that. The Chiefs do that. The great teams are about stars, sure, but they are also about guys like Hardman, who spent the first part of the season in witness protection as a member of the Jets, wound up back in Kansas City, and will forever own a piece of the Chiefs’ legacy because he’s the one who crossed the goal line Sunday and brought them another title, nudged them another step closer to forever.
“I blacked out when I caught the ball,” Hardman admitted.
He knew what was at stake. They all did, and that helps make what they’ve become that much more remarkable. Now they have a chance to do what no team has ever done in the Super Bowl Era: win three of them in a row. It won’t be any easier next year, but then it wasn’t like this year was a breeze, either. They belong on a special shelf in the game’s history, starting now. Still young enough to keep scaling ever higher.
Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid embrace after the Chiefs win Super Bowl 2024. Getty Images
Andy Reid hoists the Lombardi trophy after winning Super Bowl 2024. AP
And Mahomes is right. Until proven otherwise, the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs.