ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Mahomes leads Chiefs to Super Bowl thriller win over 49ers

Winners snatch 25-22 overtime victory to secure their third NFL championship in five seasons; halftime ads heavy on celebrities, serious on confronting antisemitism

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers, in Las Vegas, February 11, 2024. John Locher/AP)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers, in Las Vegas, February 11, 2024. John Locher/AP)

Patrick Mahomes conjured another Super Bowl comeback on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs snatched a thrilling 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers to win their third NFL championship in five seasons.

In a perfectly scripted finale before a celebrity-studded Las Vegas crowd including pop icon Taylor Swift, Mahomes found Mecole Hardman in the end zone with just three seconds remaining in overtime to seal a dramatic win in what was the longest Super Bowl in history.

The victory makes Kansas City the first team to win back-to-back Lombardi Trophies since the New England Patriots in 2003-2004, cementing the franchise’s right to be regarded as the NFL’s newest dynasty.

“It means a ton,” said Mahomes, who was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the third time after the win. “With the adversity we dealt with this year and to come through, the guys never faltered.”

Mahomes, meanwhile, warned the Chiefs’ rivals that their latest win was just the start of their reign of dominance.

“We’re not done,” he said. “We’ve got a young team. We’re going to keep this thing going.”

Kansas City Chiefs fans celebrate after the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, at the Power and Light District, Feb. 11, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Peter Aiken)

For long periods, however, it looked as if Kansas City would be denied by San Francisco’s ferocious defense.

Chiefs star Travis Kelce, whose romance with Swift has captivated the NFL this season, had a nightmare start to the game, at one stage blowing up on the sidelines at Kansas City head coach Andy Reid in an extraordinary outburst.

But with Mahomes pulling the strings, the Chiefs finally battled through a below-par performance to deliver when it mattered once more.

It marked the third time that Mahomes has led Kansas City back from double-digit deficits to win the Super Bowl, sealing his reputation as the heir apparent to the legendary Tom Brady.

It was also the third time that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has finished on the losing side in a Super Bowl after seeing his team go 10 or more points ahead.

“We all hurt,” a deflated Shanahan said after the defeat. “Everyone knows how it feels. Don’t have a lot of words for it. Obviously, we’re hurting. Our team’s hurting. That’s how it goes when you put yourself out there.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles as San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (98) pursue during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game, in Las Vegas, on February 11, 2024. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The Chiefs fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter after San Francisco struck first through a 55-yard Jake Moody field goal and a brilliantly worked trick play that ended with a touchdown for running back Christian McCaffrey.

Kansas City were left with just a Harrison Butker field goal to show for their first-half efforts to make it 10-3 at the break.

Kelce meltdown, overtime drama

Kelce went berserk on the Chiefs bench, with the tight end screaming at head coach Andy Reid in apparent frustration at being kept off the field for the play when an early Kansas City drive ended with an Isiah Pacheco fumble.

Kansas City’s offense fared little better after the restart, with Mahomes giving up an interception to 49ers safety Ji’ayir Brown after an overthrown pass intended for Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

A San Francisco 49ers fan reacts while watching a telecast of NFL football’s Super Bowl 58 on a screen outside the Chase Center in San Francisco on February 11, 2024. (Noah Berger/AP)

San Francisco were unable to turn the possession into points, however, as defenses stayed on top, forcing punts on the next three possessions.

Kansas City added to their tally with a monstrous 57-yard Butker field goal that crept over the bar to eclipse Moody’s record-long first-half effort.

With San Francisco’s defense still on top, Kansas City needed a stroke of luck and they got it when a muffed punt between 49ers defenders Darrell Luter and Ray-Ray McCloud allowed the Chiefs to recover deep in the red zone.

Mahomes wasted no time cashing in, hitting Valdes-Scantling in the end zone from 16 yards, Butker’s extra point making it 13-10.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after throwing the game-winning touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during overtime of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game in Las Vegas, February 11, 2024. (David J. Phillip/AP)

The 49ers came roaring back, however, on the next drive, Purdy showing great composure to lead a 12-play 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Jennings score.

A potentially costly missed extra point left San Francisco 16-13 ahead, and the Chiefs drew level on their next possession with Butker’s third field goal to tie it at 16-16.

Moody kicked a 40-yard field goal to restore San Francisco’s lead at 19-16.

That set the stage for Mahomes to lead the Chiefs to another Super Bowl comeback with just 1min 53sec left on the clock.

As the tension mounted, Mahomes found Kelce for a 23-yard gain that took the Chiefs into kicking range. After once again failing to get the ball into the end zone, Butker stepped up to level it at 19-19 with three seconds left, forcing overtime.

San Francisco scored a Moody field goal on the opening possession to make it 22-19, but Mahomes was not done.

The quarterback coolly marched Kansas City upfield to the three-yard line, and then popped the winning pass to Hardman to seal victory.

“Just the whole game was our whole entire season, the defense just keeping us in there and then the offense making plays when it counted,” Mahomes said.

“I’m just proud of the guys. They kept believing. And I’m proud of the coaches for calling up those plays that got us some touchdowns there at the end.”

Halftime ads address antisemitism, Gaza hostages

Off the field, big-name advertisers competed for viewers’ attention with celebrity-filled, glitzy messages.

Beyoncé broke the internet yet again in a Verizon ad, which was soon followed by a viral music drop. Lionel Messi showed off his apparent loyalty to Michelob Ultra. And T-Mobile, e.l.f. cosmetics, Uber Eats, and more offered a slew of mini TV show reunions, bringing together cast members from “Suits” to “Friends.”

Despite being an election year in the US, there was very little to show for it besides an ad by American Values 2024, the super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential run. It ran a 30-second, retro-styled spot that attempted to lean into his family’s legacy. Kennedy launched his independent bid for the White House last year.

Another 30-second slot was placed by the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, the first time the organization has featured in the Super Bowl.

Robert Kraft’s foundation launched the “#StandUptoJewishHate” campaign last year to raise awareness about antisemitism and the importance of opposing it.

Its Super Bowl ad featured Clarence B. Jones, the former lawyer and adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr. who drafted King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech for the 1963 March on Washington. He and Kraft have engaged in conversation about the historic Black-Jewish alliance in US politics, according to videos posted online by the foundation.

Other ads premiering on Super Bowl weekend called attention to the Israeli hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7 when Palestinian terror group Hamas carried out a devastating attack that killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 253 people, of whom 130 remain in captivity, and another four have been held for years. Two were rescued overnight Sunday.

Ads produced by the Israeli government aired in some places Super Bowl viewers were likely to see, including on Paramount streaming and on social media. One of them focused on fathers who are now separated from their children, in an appeal to the millions of dads who pay attention to football. Another contrasted a raucous crowd at a football game with the absence of the hostages before concluding with a “Bring Them Home” chant.

Airing a Super Bowl commercial is no easy feat. On top of the reported $7 million price tag for a 30-second spot during the game, brands enlist the biggest actors, invest in dazzling special effects, and try to put together an ad that more than 100 million expected viewers will like — or at least remember.

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