The San Francisco 49ers were going to be Super Bowl champions until Patrick Mahomes happened.
To properly describe what happed in Super Bowl 54, we need to recall The Dark Knight Rises; specifically, the Batman and Bane fight.
In that scene, Batman gets lured into a fight in which Bane slowly wears him down before literally breaking him over his knee. What made it so shocking was we rely on Batman to win a fight because — well, he’s Batman. If there’s one thing Batman never does, it’s lose.
If there’s one thing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs never do, it’s lose. On Sunday night, we came as dangerously close as we have all postseason to seeing that happen.
Early on, despite what was made of the 49ers defense, Kansas City’s offense was doing what it did all season long until it didn’t. The theatricality of the Chiefs offense was indeed a powerful agent in getting them to the Super Bowl, but the leads it erased in Kansas City’s last two playoff games were deceptive. No disrespect to the Titans or Texans, but they are not the San Francisco 49ers; falling into a double-digit hole to the league’s best defense is a dire thing to allow happen.
That’s exactly what the Chiefs did.
Protection broke down from a worn out offensive line, Mahomes started getting sacked, he threw two atrocious interceptions, and hope looked lost. Mahomes kept trying to will Kansas City back into the game and showed flashes of the magic that bailed the Chiefs out twice before but what was once a well-oiled machine was reduced to a sputtering motor.
It’s worth mentioning at this point out how The Dark Knight Rises ends — Batman wins.
Bruce Wayne willing himself back to health despite a broken back is what the last eight minutes of the Super Bowl was for the Chiefs. Mahomes rose from the ashes of his mistake to hit Tyreek Hill on an inexplicably Mahomes-ish moment and the game changed on a dime.
From that point on, everything could have bounced their way did. Kansas City erased a 10-point lead by scoring 21-unanswered fourth quarter points, Richard Sherman got barbequed on a couple of big plays, the defense tattooed Jimmy Garoppolo (who missed a wide open Emmanuel Sanders which would have given the Niners a late lead) and the Chiefs went from being crushed by the weight of the moment to tossing the 49ers into an active volcano. As stressful as it is to fans, the Chiefs don’t hit the right gear until they’re down by double-digits and backed into a corner.
No matter who they’re playing or what the deficit is, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are inevitable.
That’s more Thanos than Batman, which leads us down a rabbit hole we will eventually have to go down in which the Chiefs are the new villains of the NFL. The comparisons to Steph Curry and the Warriors don’t end with how fun both of these teams are, the invincibility of the Chiefs will catch up with them and our perception of them will change.
But let’s not do that yet.
This three-game run they just went on to win the Super Bowl is a moment to cherish. It’s at this point the Batman comparisons end. Bruce Wayne rode off into the sunset to some random cafe in Paris (?); Patrick Mahomes is only getting started. He returned the Lombardi Trophy to Kansas City and is the hero Kansas City both needed and deserves.