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Did Patrick Mahomes just write the greatest comeback story in NFL history?

Rick Stroud | Mahomes and the Chiefs rally from a third-straight postseason deficit to stun the 49ers and win Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes hoists the trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. [DAVID J. PHILLIP  |  AP]
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes hoists the trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. [DAVID J. PHILLIP | AP]
Published Feb. 3
Updated Feb. 3

MIAMI GARDENS — There is a lot of magic in Patrick Mahomes’ arm, but he’s more of an escape artist than anything else.

Forget how he unchained the Chiefs down 24-0 to the Houston Texans to start their playoff run.

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers seemed to have bolted down a 20-10 lead late in the fourth quarter when Mahomes faced third-and-15 deep in his territory.

The 49ers defense was dominating, having intercepted Mahomes twice and made him flee the pocket all night.

Related: The comeback Chiefs are Super Bowl champions

But that’s when the Chiefs quarterback completed a 44-yard pass to Tyreek Hill, sparking three straight touchdown drives in six minutes of the fourth quarter to lift Kansas City to a 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54.

Then again, we should all know better by now.

The Chiefs trailed all three of their playoff games by 10 or more points.

It was the Chiefs’ first NFL title in 50 years, since winning Super Bowl 4 in Jan. of 1970.

Mahomes went 26 of 41 passing for 286 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Mahomes said the third-and-15 conversion was the biggest play of the game.

“We were in a bad situation, especially with that pass rush,'' said Mahomes,. "You knew those guys had their ears pinned back and they were going to be rushing. I think the offensive line gave me enough time to throw a really deep route, and I just put it out there and Tyreek made a really great play and so that got us going there. We were able to get it down there and score that drive and then got the ball back because the defense got a nice stop.”

Think about what Mahomes has already done in his career at 24. Last year, in his first full season as the Chiefs starter, he threw 50 touchdown passes and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Now you can add Super Bowl MVP to his resume.

Is Mahomes the new face of the NFL?

“There are several guys that could be the face of the NFL,” Mahomes said. “With the NFL and how good the play is, the quarterback play, guys can come in year-in and year-out and go out there and play great football. Lamar (Jackson) was the unanimous MVP last night, and he had one of the best seasons of all-time at the quarterback position. There are guys like that it seems every single year, a lot of young quarterbacks, and still a lot of veteran guys that are playing at a very high level. So, I just try to be the best Patrick Mahomes I can be and try to win football games with the guys that I have around me.”

Move over, Santa

Unless you’re a 49ers fan, you had to feel good about Chiefs coach Andy Reid, the nicest big man in the red suit this side of Santa, who they used to throw snowballs at in Philadelphia. That’s where Reid reached his only other league championship 15 years ago when his Eagles to the Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl 39.

But at 61, Reid found the fountain of youth in Kansas City. Or he’s just drunk with the good fortune of having a quarterback like Mahomes.

Reid was coaching his 366th game, the most of any NFL coach without a Super Bowl title until the red and gold confetti fell Sunday.

“It was great,’’ Reid said. “Absolutely. Love this (Mahomes) guy right here. And all those guys that came before, I love you, too.

“My heart’s racing. I can’t let it race too fast.’’

Tight end Travis Kelce said it was good to get a Super Bowl victory for Reid.

“I just got a ring for Big Red,” Kelce said. "We’re married together forever now. He can’t get rid of me. I’ll be at Thanksgiving. I’ll make sure one of these days I’ll tell him how much I appreciate him.”

For John Lynch, Super Bowl week wasn’t super

As happy as you had to be for Reid, what a lousy week for John Lynch.

On Saturday, the former Bucs safety and current 49ers general manager was denied election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his seventh straight try as a finalist.

Then on Sunday, he watched his team blow a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

It looked as if the 49ers were going to earn their sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

Before they boarded their flight to Miami a week ago, 13 players from the 49ers’ Super Bowl teams joined Jerry Rice in a meeting organized by Harris Barton, who asked Lynch if they could address the team before they headed east.

Rice gave a motivational speech, telling this 49ers team they could join the “brotherhood,” forever by winning the Super Bowl, truly linking past with the present. Then he pulled his hand out of his pocket, displaying four Super Bowl rings.

“When you got Jerry Rice in your face with four rings on his hand, telling you to go win it, it’s pretty special,” tight end George Kittle said.

Their motto this year was “Faithful then. Faithful now.”

Related: Drugs and a viral video wrecked a former Bucs assistant's career. Super Bowl 54 offers redemption

The Niners looked in control

The faith was in the 49ers defense, and they helped build what looked to be a secure lead. NFL Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa sacked Mahomes, forcing a fumble that the Chiefs quarterback recovered. Then on the next play, Mahomes was hurried and threw an ill-advised pass to Tyreek Hill that was intercepted by linebacker Fred Warner.

Jimmy Garoppolo may never be confused with the 49ers legendary quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young, who were in attendance Sunday. He’s efficient, but not flashy. He uses the 49ers complex and efficient run game to set up play action.

But he took advantage of the turnover to lead the 49ers to a 6-play, 55-yard drive with three completions for 52 yards. Raheem Mostert scored on a 1-yard TD run to give the Niners a 20-10 lead.

On the next series, Mahomes was sacked by DeForest Buckner, who had 1.5 for the game. Mahomes scrambled for a first down. But on third-and-6 from the Kansas City 23, he threw behind Hill. The ball deflected off his hands and was intercepted by Tarvarius Moore.

But the 49ers must have forgotten who was under center for the Chiefs.

He erased a 24-0 lead to the Houston Texans and took the lead by halftime in the AFC divisional playoff. But this was the Super Bowl.

“Those guys are hurting in there just like I am,’’ 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We all are. It’s tough when you lose a Super Bowl. It’s tough that it had to end today the way it did but that team won a special place in my heart.’’

What happened? Why didn’t the Niners close out the deal?

“We just didn’t get it done when we had the ball,’’ Shanahan said. “They converted a big third and 15. They got a huge pass inference penalty call, and when we had to answer we couldn’t.’’

“We were up 10 but the lead was with about six minutes to go and we knew Pat would have two possessions.''

Mahomes got the ball back three times and led the Chiefs to touchdowns on all of them. Mahomes magic indeed.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLStroud

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