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Not once had the masked slipped an inch. Not once had he lost patience or any of his easy charm. Travis Kelce’s opening words this week were about Taylor Swift as he answered the first of countless questions about the relationship which dominated the build-up to this first Super Bowl in Sin City.

On Saturday night, his final message to his Kansas City Chiefs teammates was so inspiring it moved some people to tears. And then, on the biggest stage of all, in perhaps the biggest Super Bowl of all time, it was Kelce’s turn to break down.

There were no tears but Swift was in the stands and, for once, she was in the shade, too. Shortly before half-time in Las Vegas, with his team trailing the San Francisco 49ers, Kelce screamed in the face of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. He nearly knocked the 65-year-old off his feet and had to be hauled away.

It was shocking and it threatened to become the defining image of a night when Kansas City unravelled and spurned a chance to make history. Instead, as night closed over Sin City, Kelce was grasping the Vince Lombardi Trophy, chanting Viva Las Vegas.

Because this is a special team led by a special quarterback. One blessed with immense talent and a refusal to die even when nothing is working. When the chips are down, Kansas City looks to Patrick Mahomes. He rarely lets them down.

Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl! Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes and Co seal back-to-back titles with Taylor Swift watching on in the stands in Las Vegas… after dramatic overtime game ends with Mecole Hardman touchdown

Patrick Mahomes found Mecole Hardman open for a touchdown in OT to win a third Super Bowl in five seasons for the Chiefs

Taylor Swift and her friends celebrated alongside Donna Kelce and the rest of the Kelce family at Allegiant Stadium

Taylor Swift and her friends celebrated alongside Donna Kelce and the rest of the Kelce family at Allegiant Stadium

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid celebrates after winning his third Super Bowl with the team

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid celebrates after winning his third Super Bowl with the team

Patrick Mahomes and Mecole Hardman celebrated with the other members of the Chiefs in the end zone after the touchdown

Patrick Mahomes and Mecole Hardman celebrated with the other members of the Chiefs in the end zone after the touchdown

Mahomes finished the night with 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a strong performance

Mahomes finished the night with 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a strong performance

That's left the San Francisco 49ers on the short end of the stick having lost two straight Super Bowls - both to Kansas City

That’s left the San Francisco 49ers on the short end of the stick having lost two straight Super Bowls – both to Kansas City

After a very slow start to the game, Travis Kelce finished with the most catches and led the team with 93 catching yards

After a very slow start to the game, Travis Kelce finished with the most catches and led the team with 93 catching yards

Amid the crowd of people, Mahomes and Kelce found each other and celebrated with a hug on the field

Amid the crowd of people, Mahomes and Kelce found each other and celebrated with a hug on the field

Andy Reid

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes hold aloft the Lombardi Trophy

As the ceremony began, Taylor Swift made her way down onto the field and watched as confetti rained down on her

As the ceremony began, Taylor Swift made her way down onto the field and watched as confetti rained down on her

She eventually found her man and in a tender moment, they embraced and kissed as Travis earned his third Super Bowl ring

She eventually found her man and in a tender moment, they embraced and kissed as Travis earned his third Super Bowl ring

Not even when his offense malfunctions as it did again here. Not even after San Francisco threatened to strangle the Chiefs in Sin City. Not even after four hours of battle. Time and again, the quarterback hauled his team back into the game. And then, in overtime, he drove them down the field and found Mecole Hardman for the game-winning score.

Moments later, emotion got the better of him too – the quarterback dropped to the floor and lay on his back after leading the Chiefs to a third Super Bowl in five years and back-to-back titles. No team has done that in two decades. This is a dynasty. To think the Chiefs were written off after a regular season of struggle and distraction. The defense held Kansas City together on Sunday – as they have all season. The defense provided a foundation for Mahomes to shine.

What a remarkable end to a remarkable season, decided once again by a truly remarkable player.

How this will hurt for San Francisco. Not for the first time in a Super Bowl against this team, they had glory in their grasp. Not for the first time, they suffered late heartbreak. Their 20-year wait for a title goes on. This one will take some getting over.

Swift touched down in Sin City around 1pm local time. Her journey from a stage in Tokyo to a suite in Las Vegas had included a pit stop in Los Angeles and a dig from Donald Trump. Beyond that, though? Pretty painless.

Vegas was prepared to absorb 330,000 new arrivals – one more wouldn’t be an issue.

Supporters started piling into town nearly a week ago and they were still checking into hotels a few hours before kick-off. By then, blackjack dealers were decked out in football jerseys and The Strip was at logjam.

It was quicker to get around on foot and so thousands of fans spilled out of the casino at the Mandalay Bay, down on to the underpass, out into the beaming sun and up the hill towards Allegiant Stadium.

Travis Kelce had a moment of madness as he screamed at his coach Andy Reid in the second quarter of the Super Bowl

Travis Kelce had a moment of madness as he screamed at his coach Andy Reid in the second quarter of the Super Bowl

Kelce's girlfriend Taylor Swift had raced back from Japan for the game but the Chiefs made an underwhelming start

Kelce’s girlfriend Taylor Swift had raced back from Japan for the game but the Chiefs made an underwhelming start

Jake Moody scored a 55-yard kick to break the deadlock and put the 49ers ahead - then the longest in Super Bowl history

Jake Moody scored a 55-yard kick to break the deadlock and put the 49ers ahead – then the longest in Super Bowl history 

San Francisco had a trick up their sleeves with a double pass set up leading to WR Jauan Jennings throwing the ball

San Francisco had a trick up their sleeves with a double pass set up leading to WR Jauan Jennings throwing the ball

He found a wide open Christian McCaffrey - who scampered to the house for a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead

He found a wide open Christian McCaffrey – who scampered to the house for a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker was able to get some points on the board giving us a 10-3 score at halftime

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker was able to get some points on the board giving us a 10-3 score at halftime

Lining the way? A few desperate fans hoping to secure the hottest ticket in town – on gameday, the cheapest seat on one resale site cost $9,000 – and Jehovah’s Witnesses because this is Vegas and there’s no bad time for redemption. It was only a short walk from The Strip to the stadium.

Separating the Chiefs and immortality on Sunday morning? One more step. Reid, Mahomes, Kelce and Co set out on this long road – destination: Dynasty – in 2019, when they ended a 50-year wait for a second championship. The victims that day? San Francisco

Shanahan’s players arrived here with vengeance on their mind. They began as slight betting favorites, they had more support in the stands, too. The message from the Chiefs, though, articulated by Chris Jones in a pre-game promo? ‘We ain’t done yet’. Tears streamed down the tackle’s face during the national anthem and then, a few minutes later, the ball fell out of Christian McCaffrey’s hands as Kansas City drew first blood.

Leo Chenal forced an early fumble that handed the Chiefs some early momentum, only for the San Francisco defense to lay down some markers of its own. Chase Young sacked Mahomes; Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Co swarmed all over Kansas City.

It was a sign of things to come: across their first two drives, the defending champions were restricted to 16 yards and a solitary first down. San Francisco had managed more than five times more (84).

But the 49ers still needed a Super Bowl record field goal (55 yards) from Jake Moody to open the score. The Chiefs looked primed to wipe that lead out instantly, after Mahomes’ 52-yard pass found Mecole Hardman and put Kansas City in the red zone.

It was about the first spark of life in the Kansas City offense but Pacheco dropped the ball. And that proved too much for some: Kelce lost it; Swift soon chugged her beer. She ought to have raised a glass a few minutes later, when McCaffrey scored the game’s first touchdown. It was a work of art: Purdy found Jauan Jennings who threw a daring lateral to McCaffrey in space. No one was going to stop him from here.

That score put San Francisco firmly in control but few know better than Shanahan about the fragility of leads in this game. In each of its past two Super Bowl wins – against the 49ers and the Eagles – Kansas City has overturned a 10+ point deficit.

Later in the game, Moody's record was broken by Harrison Butker, who kicked a 57-yard field goal in the third quarter

Later in the game, Moody’s record was broken by Harrison Butker, who kicked a 57-yard field goal in the third quarter

The 34-year-old Kelce, one of the star men for the Chiefs, had first looked cool and composed during the warm ups

The 34-year-old Kelce, one of the star men for the Chiefs, had first looked cool and composed during the warm ups 

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (center) gives a late Kansas City team talk with Kelce stood alongside him

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (center) gives a late Kansas City team talk with Kelce stood alongside him

Usher took over Allegiant Stadium for his halftime show and it was hugely popular with the crowd in Las Vegas

Usher took over Allegiant Stadium for his halftime show and it was hugely popular with the crowd in Las Vegas 

He performed a special rendition of his hit 'My Boo' with New York City songstress Alicia Keys to cheers

He performed a special rendition of his hit ‘My Boo’ with New York City songstress Alicia Keys to cheers

Swift was seen having a chat with fellow singer Lana Del Rey during a quieter moment at Allegiant Stadium

Swift and Del Rey were sat close together - with Del Rey's seat near the suite Kelce had bought for Swift and the respective families

Swift was seen having a chat with fellow singer Lana Del Rey during a quieter moment at Allegiant Stadium

Rapper and musician Jay-Z was also in attendance watching on as the game unfolded below him

Rapper and musician Jay-Z was also in attendance watching on as the game unfolded below him

The Niners struggled to produce offensively throughout the third quarter - with three straight punts stalling them

The Niners struggled to produce offensively throughout the third quarter – with three straight punts stalling them

A major turning point game when Ray-Ray McCloud (3) was unable to recover a muffed punt - turning the ball back to KC

A major turning point game when Ray-Ray McCloud (3) was unable to recover a muffed punt – turning the ball back to KC

Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was able to convert the Niners' mistake into a touchdown to take the lead

Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was able to convert the Niners’ mistake into a touchdown to take the lead

San Francisco immediately returned the favor with a touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings to take a three-point lead

San Francisco immediately returned the favor with a touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings to take a three-point lead

There was little sign of an impending comeback here as the Chiefs’ offense stuttered and Mahomes battled just to keep his head above water. A field goal from Harrison Butker – seconds before half-time – did bring the defending champions within a score before Usher’s 13-minute show gave the Chiefs a bit of extra time to gather themselves.

But it appeared to have made scant difference: Kansas City’s opening drive of the third quarter saw Pacheco drop a hand-off and Mahomes throw his first interception. The only saving grace for Reid? The Chiefs defense was keeping his team in the game: San Francisco’s first three drives of the second half brought a grand total of -2 yards. And with every forced punt, Kansas City bought the offense more chance to click.

Mahomes began doing it himself: the quarterback scrambled for a couple of first downs that gave Butker the chance to bring the Chiefs to within four from 57 yards – breaking Moody’s new record.

But even he couldn’t muster a game-changing moment like the botched punt that took Kansas City into the red zone and, one play later, into the lead.

After the ball inadvertently clipped the foot of Darrell Luter, Ray-Ray McCloud III struggled to gather the loose ball. Kansas City did and one play later, Mahomes found Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the end zone.

All night, Mahomes was hounded by San Francisco's powerful pass rush - but he was able to battle through it for the most part

All night, Mahomes was hounded by San Francisco’s powerful pass rush – but he was able to battle through it for the most part

A final drive to try and win it in regulation fell just short of success with an incomplete pass to Travis Kelce with seconds left

A final drive to try and win it in regulation fell just short of success with an incomplete pass to Travis Kelce with seconds left

Jake Moody

Harrison Butker

The kickers did their jobs at the end of the game – with Butker kicking twice and Moody converting once to seal overtime

In OT, the Niners won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the extra period

In OT, the Niners won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the extra period

This miraculous catch by full back Kyle Juszczyk didn't produce the necessary points to stave off elimination: only a field goal

This miraculous catch by full back Kyle Juszczyk didn’t produce the necessary points to stave off elimination: only a field goal

The game ended on a 13 play, 75 yard drive with Mahomes finding Hardman and the Chiefs etching their names into history

The game ended on a 13 play, 75 yard drive with Mahomes finding Hardman and the Chiefs etching their names into history

That could have crushed San Francisco. Instead the Niners went straight up the other end and, despite being deep in field goal territory, Shanahan chose to go for six. He gambled on fourth down and was repaid when Purdy found Jennings.

The cost of Moody’s failure to add the extra point was laid bare shortly after, when Butker was able to level with a field goal. The mark of Moody’s character came with 1:53 remaining, when his nerveless field goal edged San Francisco in front.

The issue? That left more than enough time for Mahomes to lead Kansas City back down the field. At the end of it all, with six seconds on the clock, the quarterback threw towards Kelce in the end zone. Incomplete. Field goal. Overtime.

The 49ers opted to take the ball and they were handed a lifeline when a penalty prevented them from having to punt. At the second time of asking, more McCaffrey brilliance carried San Francisco down the field before Moody kicked a field goal.

At that point, the formula for Kansas City was simple: a touchdown and they were Super Bowl champions once more. Twice Mahomes faced third down. Twice he made the play. Then, in the red zone, he found his man.



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