Sun Feb 2 11:02pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, tries to scramble away from San Francisco 49ers' Dee Ford, center, and DeForest Buckner, right, during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates his touchdown pass to Damien Williams in the the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a long pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers' DeForest Buckner during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Patrick Mahomes was struggling, and the Kansas City Chiefs were in huge trouble.
Until the young quarterback coolly brushed aside three quarters of frustration and came through in the clutch.
As he has already done so often in his young career.
Mahomes threw two touchdown passes on consecutive fourth-quarter drives to lead the Chiefs to a 31-20 victory and deliver the franchise its first Super Bowl title in 50 years.
''We have heart,'' Mahomes said. ''That's just from Day 1. Coach pushes us to be the best people that we can be, and we never give up.''
The 24-year-old Mahomes was selected the game's MVP after bouncing back from being intercepted on two straight possessions and seeing the Chiefs' title hopes appear to be in serious jeopardy.
''We never lost faith,'' Mahomes said. ''That's the biggest thing. Everybody on this team, no one had their head down. And we believed in each other. And that's what we preached all year long - and we had this guy (coach Andy Reid) right here to get us there.
''And we found a way to get it in the end.''
Trailing 20-10, Mahomes and the Chiefs suddenly got going - and didn't stop until they stood in a confetti shower with the Lombardi Trophy.
And it was the late-game performance of Mahomes that got them where Len Dawson last delivered the Chiefs in 1970.
Mahomes capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown toss to Travis Kelce that made it 20-17 with 6:13 remaining.
On Kansas City's next drive, Mahomes zipped the ball around - for 13 yards to Kelce and 3 to Tyreek Hill, before tossing a perfectly placed rainbow toss to Sammy Watkins down the right sideline for 38 yards to get the ball to the 49ers 10.
Three plays later, Mahomes threw a 5-yard pass to Damien Williams, who reached over the goal line - and it stood after a video review - to put Kansas City up 24-20 with 2:44 remaining.
Mahomes flexed both arms and shouted in celebration, letting loose of three quarters of frustration and sensing a Super Bowl title.
After Kansas City stopped Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers on fourth down, Williams ran for 4 yards - and then sealed the win by zipping 38 yards into the end zone for a 31-20 lead with 1:12 left.
It was reminiscent of the divisional round when Kansas City fell behind early against Houston before Mahomes led the Chiefs back from a 24-point deficit to tally the greatest comeback in franchise history.
The Chiefs weren't in nearly as big a hole in this one, but the 49ers were making it tough all night for Mahomes to get in a rhythm.
Mahomes finished 26 of 42 for 286 yards and the two scores, and also had a 1-yard touchdown run against the 49ers.
''Coach Reid told me after both of them (interceptions) to keep firing,'' Mahomes said. ''Keep believing in your eyes, keep throwing it. He gives me the confidence to go out there no matter what I do, and it worked out well in the end.''
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Interview with a Champ
A misdemeanor battery charge against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander was dismissed on Tuesday. The charge stemmed from last August in relation to the disappearance of his father. Alexander entered deferred prosecution on Dec. 8, which led to the charges being dismissed. Part of the terms of the agreement included 24 hours of community service and participation in an anger-management course. Alexander allegedly went to a man's house to discuss the incident with his father, hit him and caused minor injuries. He pleaded not guilty and completed the pretrial diversion program on Jan. 13. The fifth-year player started in 10 of his 13 games in 2020 and recorded 47 tackles and one interception.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) cleared "some big steps" on Monday, but he remains in the league's concussion protocol, and it's too early to say definitively that he will play in the AFC Championship against the Bills, according to sources. We'll have a better idea of Mahomes' chances of playing this Sunday once the Chiefs begin practicing on Wednesday, but he'll need full clearance from the protocol in order to play against Buffalo. If the 25-year-old cannot play, veteran Chad Henne would likely start under center after replacing Mahomes in the Divisional Round against the Browns. Mahomes threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 6 win over Buffalo, but he'll be riskier than usual at his high price in DFS if he plays this weekend.
The Los Angeles Rams are focusing on former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator/interim head coach Raheem Morris as their new defensive coordinator, according to sources. It's looking like Morris will be the one to replace Brandon Staley, who was hired as the Chargers new head coach. Morris was Atlanta's interim head coach for the last 11 games of the 2020 season after Dan Quinn was fired, and he went 4-7 to close out the year. The Falcons Defense allowed 30-plus points in four of their first five games, but they turned things around on that side of the ball once Morris took over. The 44-year-old was Tampa's head coach from 2009-11, with the team going 17-31 in that stretch. Morris worked with Rams head coach Sean McVay in Tampa and also in Washington.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) is likely to have surgery on the torn deltoid and other ligaments in his ankle this offseason, according to a source. Thomas knew it was likely quarterback Drew Brees' last year and didn't want to miss out on a possible Super Bowl run. A high-ankle sprain limited the All-Pro wideout to just seven games this year. He often was playing at far less than 100 percent, catching just 40 passes for 438 yards and no touchdowns during the regular season. The 27-year-old did find the end zone in the wild-card win over the Bears, but he was a massive fantasy bust as the first receiver off the board in the first round in most drafts after his 149-catch, 1,725-yard season in 2019. Thomas should be a top-10 wideout, if healthy, in 2021, but losing Brees will also be a downgrade for his overall outlook moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) did not suffer a serious knee injury in the Divisional Round win over the Saints, according to sources. Brown is considered day-to-day after undergoing an MRI exam on Monday. The 32-year-old should have a chance to suit up in the NFC Championship against the Packers on Sunday, but we'll keep a close eye on his practice participation throughout the week. If Brown is unable to go or is limited, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson could see more opportunities in the passing game behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brown played only 27 offensive snaps last weekend, missing most of the second half with his injury. He caught one of three targets for 10 yards against the Saints. Brown will be a touchdown-dependent fantasy option if he plays against Green Bay.
The Atlanta Falcons officially named Terry Fontenot as their new general manager on Tuesday. Fontenot spent the last 18 years of his career with the New Orleans Saints, most recently completing his first season as the team's vice president/assistant general manager for pro personnel. He initially got his foot in the door as a marketing intern with the Saints. New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009 and has claimed seven NFC South titles in the last 15 years while Fontenot was around. Fontenot will now move to a Falcons team that has not been to the playoffs since 2017. He will be replacing Thomas Dimitroff, who was fired during the 2020 season. Fontenot will be working with new head coach Arthur Smith, with one of the main priorities being to figure out whether quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones are part of the organization's immediate future.
The Washington Football Team is finalizing a deal with Marty Hurney on Tuesday to be its new general manager, according to sources. The move should be officially announced later in the day. Hurney will be reunited with head coach Ron Rivera after the two worked together in the early part of the last decade with the Carolina Panthers. Hurney will join the team with hopes of improving a team that released first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins after less than two full seasons. With Alex Smith potentially retiring, Washington faces plenty of uncertainty at the position in the short and long term. But Washington's defense proved to be a force in 2020 after the team finished 7-9 with a playoff berth.
Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields announced on Twitter his intentions to forego his remaining eligibility and enter the 2021 NFL draft. He is considered one of the nation's top prospects after leading the Buckeyes to the national championship game, where they fell to Alabama. Fields beat Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the semifinals by throwing six touchdowns despite suffering a hip pointer in the game. The 6-foot-3, 228-pounder was 20-2 in his time as the Ohio State starter while completing 68.4 percent of his passes and a 63:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his two seasons with the Buckeyes. Fields also ran for 867 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns. Lawrence is projected to go to the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, but the Jets could snag Fields with the No. 2 pick this April.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff's recent inconsistent play has left his status as the starting quarterback for the 2021 season in the air and may lead the team to bring in someone who can push him, according to comments made by the NFL Network's Steve Wyche. 'The people I've spoken to said basically at this moment the relationship with Goff and (head coach Sean) McVay: not great. They need marriage counseling is what one person said to me. I think this is something that they're going to be able to work through, but there's got to be some healing and that's not just with Jared Goff's injured thumb,' Wyche said.
Fantasy Spin: Goff was very good in McVay's first two seasons (2017 and 2018), but it would seem that once opponents figured out how to slow down Todd Gurley late during the second half of the 2018 campaign, Goff started to get exposed. It's also possible that the defections of Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks have given defenses less to worry about vertically or that he is feeling the pressure of playing under his four-year, $134 million contract that he signed in September of 2019. Whatever the reason(s), fantasy owners should expect him to compete for his job in camp this summer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon, DB Javon Hagan and OG Ted Larsen were restored to the practice squad Monday, Jan. 18.
Green Bay Packers DT Brian Price and DB KeiVarae Russell were restored to the practice squad Monday, Jan. 18.
Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, Chicago Bears safeties coach Sean Desai and Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are most likely candidates to replace Brandon Staley as the Rams' defensive coordinator, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Rodrigue is reporting a decision to fill the vacancy could happen as soon as Tuesday, Jan. 19.
New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore has forced 37 incompletions since 2018 - tied for the second-highest total in the league - according to Pro Football Focus.
New York Giants CB James Bradberry has forced a league-high 42 incompletions since 2018, according to Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis has forced 37 incompletions since 2018 - tied for the second-highest total in the league - according to Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Vita Vea (ankle) will return to practice this week, and the team hopes he will be available for the NFC Championship game.
Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (foot) underwent surgery last week and showed his right foot in a cast after the surgery.
Denver Broncos impending free-agent S Justin Simmons is a player that head coach Vic Fangio wants to return next season.
The Baltimore Ravens will release veteran running back Mark Ingram II on Tuesday, according to league sources. The move will save the Ravens $5 million against the 2021 salary cap and will allow Ingram to get an early jump on free agency. Ingram was a healthy scratch in five of the team's final six games to close out the season, but he insists that he's healthy and has plenty to offer a team in 2021. The 31-year-old was a first-round pick out of Alabama back in 2011, but he's unlikely to be anything more than a backup if he lands with another team on the open market this offseason. J.K. Dobbins took over as Baltimore's lead back in the second half of the 2020 season, and Gus Edwards should continue spelling him next season. Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowler, had 72 carries for 299 yards (4.2 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns in 11 games (nine starts) in his second year in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram has been informed that he will be released Tuesday, Jan. 19, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Ingram may not be able to find a starting job this offseason but can be part of a running back committee for a team. Fantasy players can monitor the situation because Ingram can have fantasy value depending on his situation.