LAS VEGAS — If you can’t beat Patrick Mahomes, you won’t be Super Bowl champion. He is the one now who won’t let anyone near the Lombardi Trophy. He is the first quarterback to repeat since Tom Brady.
He is the one chasing Tom Brady.
Brady is the GOAT.
Mahomes is the young GOAT.
He is Michael Jordan in a helmet and shoulder pads playing above the rim and daring anyone to stop him.
He is the one halfway to Jordan with three rings now, tied now with Troy Aikman and one behind Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. He is the one four rings from Brady, and he is the one who plans on playing for 15 more years if he can.
He is football’s Taylor Swift on the big stage.
Magic Mahomes again. MVP Mahomes again.
Brock Purdy had just marched the 49ers into the lead in overtime.
Now it was Mahomes turn.
No one in Kansas City, and maybe no one in Taylor Swift’s suite, doubted him.
Mahomes with the ball last is a heartbreaking proposition for the other guys. These are the moments he lives for, the moments when the great ones see order and mortals see chaos, when a quiet mind and a fire in the belly conspire for The Perfect Storm.
The Perfect Storm that rains greatness.
Mahomes has matriculated the ball down the field and now the scoreboard clock was ticking down to six seconds and Mahomes yawned and found Mecole Hardman — Mecole Hardman! — all alone on the right side of the end zone for the 3-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs dynasty a dramatic 25-22 overtime victory.
Mahomes had rambled twice on the drive, the first time for 8 yards on fourth-and-1, the next time for 19 yards prior to the dagger into San Francisco hearts, especially Kyle Shanahan’s who can never finish.
It never gets old for Patrick Mahomes.
The thrill of victory, the addiction to winning, the joy and exhilaration of celebrating with family and teammates.
Mahomes always recognizes Winning Time, and he faced it in the fourth quarter.
He found Travis Kelce twice for 29 yards and Justin Watson for 25 more, and soon it was first-and-goal at the 4. But he couldn’t find anyone open on second or third down, and settled for the field goal that made it Chiefs 16, 49ers 16 with 5:46 remaining.
He had been bewitched, bothered and bewildered in the first half by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and the 49ers’ defense.
Mahomes was guilty of a first-half intentional grounding and a grievous interception to Ji’Ayir Brown on his first possession of the second half when he overthrew Kelce or underthrew Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
His best moment had come at the end of the first half when he flushed left and threw deep across his body downfield right for 52 yards to Hardman.
It preceded Kelce’s worst moment.
Isiah Pacheco, first-and-goal at the 9, lost a fumble, and Kelce bumped and raged at Andy Reid on the sideline.
Mahomes made it all better. Reid and Kelce and Swift were all smiles on the field when it ended.
Because overtime is Mahomes’ quarter too.
“What you’re looking for in a franchise quarterback, the delineation is, in adversity, throwing a couple of interceptions, crowd is booing, the game’s getting out of hand, what does he do then?” said Leigh Steinberg, the agent who signed Mahomes in 2017.
Mahomes is only 28. He intends on tormenting defenses for another 15 years. They won’t like it.
But we can. We should cherish him for as long as possible. We won’t see the likes of him anytime soon.