MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- No lead is safe with Comeback Pat on the field.
A 24-0 deficit against Houston? No problem. A 10-point hole to Tennessee? A piece of crumb cake.
Sunday, in Super Bowl LIV, with the Chiefs trailing 20-10 deep into the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, this deficit felt different. This Niners D had smothered Mahomes all game, wreaking havoc on the quarterback. The 2018 NFL MVP had perhaps his worst game as a pro. Passes weren't pinpoint accurate as normal, he threw several uncharacteristically poor balls. His first interception was brutal. His second almost killed the Chiefs.
"I had to grab myself," Mahomes said on the NFL Network after the Chiefs' 31-20 win in which he was named the game's MVP. "I didn't have the third quarter that I wanted, but I knew that if I kept fighting, I knew the defense was going to get stops. It's amazing, it really is, to be in that situation, to be down 10 with like seven minutes left and to find a way to get a win, it's amazing."
Like a switch, with 7:13 left, Mahomes found a groove, hitting Tyreek Hill deep for a 44-yard bomb. Three plays later, boom, touchdown. Now we have a game.
"This team never bends, never folds," corner Bashaud Breeland told NFL.com on the field after the game. "We were down 24-0 and came back. So, when we were down, we knew all we had to do was stay the course and see it through."
Still, against this Nick Bosa-led defense that harassed and dominated all game, and Kyle Shanahan's offense that seemingly moved the ball at will, a comeback still seemed improbable.
After the defense stood tall, forcing its first three-and-out of the game, Mahomes got the ball back and went to work. A deep ball that was negated all game by San Francisco finally found life late. This time Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins, a big-play machine in these playoffs, on a picture-perfect pass down the sideline that the receiver cradled for a 38-yard gain to the 10-yard-line. Three plays later, Mahomes found Damien Williams out of the backfield for the go-ahead score.
Two possessions. Double-digit deficit wiped out. Easy-peasy.
"We have an ability as a team, not just an offense, as a team, to figure out what the other team is doing, put our foot in the ground and say enough is enough," tight end Travis Kelce said. "And when you got a band of brothers that come together for one goal and are determined and go out there with a sense of urgency to get things done, it's special and that's what we keep doing. We showed it throughout the playoffs and we showed it even more tonight."
Mahomes' two deep shots after getting battered all night, and having the worst playoff game of his still-young career, turned the tide of a game that felt like it was slipping away. Teammates knew that when Mahomes is on the field, they always feel like they have a chance to come back.
"Yeah, it was that feeling we felt multiple times this season and I mean, Pat's just an unbelievable dude, man," offensive tackle Eric Fisher told NFL Network's Steve Wyche. "Such a leader on and off the field. He got us going. We never hesitated. We just kept working, kept our heads down, man. The rest is history."
Defensive tackle Chris Jones, who was a menace up front all night, said he knew if the defense could give Mahomes a shot the QB would come through.
"When the defense is playing lights-out, defense step up and make a stop, that's all Pat needs," Jones said. "He gon' make something happen, that receiving corps gon' make something happen. We put them in position to make a play and guess what? They excelled."
A deep shot to Hill lit the match. The defense brought the kindling. Another deep shot to Watkins poured kerosene on the fire.
When Mahomes gets sparked, there is no slowing this Chiefs team. When the defense steps up as it did late Sunday night, championships are won.
For the third time in the playoffs, Mahomes led a double-digit comeback. This one felt different. It left no doubt who the best football player on the planet is today. And it allowed Kansas City to finally hoist a Lombardi Trophy once again.