It’s Chiefs vs. 49ers — again — for Super Bowl LVIII

Published 10:39 pm Sunday, January 28, 2024

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs are heading to Las Vegas with a chance for a rare repeat while facing the San Francisco 49ers in a Super Bowl rematch from four years ago.

The Chiefs beat Lamar Jackson and the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens 17-10 in the AFC championship game Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years. A few hours later, Brock Purdy rallied the No. 1-seeded 49ers to a 34-31 victory over the Detroit Lions in the NFC title game.

The Chiefs (14-6) are aiming to become the first back-to-back champions since Tom Brady and the New England Patriots did it following the 2003-04 seasons.

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Purdy — who was still two years away from being the last pick of the 2022 NFL draft the last time the teams played in the Super Bowl — will try to lead the 49ers (14-5) to a record-tying sixth title in their eighth appearance.

The teams meet at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 in Super Bowl 58. The 49ers opened as 2 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Playing on the road in the playoffs for the first time with Mahomes, the Chiefs beat Buffalo and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks to win the conference.

“I’ve never doubted, no,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “That’s not how we roll.”

Mahomes and the Chiefs overcame a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit and beat the 49ers 31-20 to give coach Andy Reid his first Super Bowl victory on Feb. 2, 2020. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spoiled Kansas City’s repeat bid the following year.

The Chiefs will become just the third team to play in four Super Bowls over a five-year span. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s and the Patriots in the 2000s and 2010s won three Super Bowls in a five-year span.

Mahomes rallied the Chiefs for a 38-35 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl last year. They beat Miami 26-7 in the wild-card round and defeated the Bills 27-24 in Buffalo last week in Mahomes’ first career playoff game on the road besides Super Bowls.

“The Chiefs are still the Chiefs,” said Kelce, who caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers were dominated by the Eagles in the NFC title game last year in a game that saw Purdy suffer a significant elbow injury that required surgery. He returned for the season opener and helped them earn a first-round bye. Purdy led a 24-21 comeback win over Green Bay last week and brought the Niners back from a 17-point deficit against the Lions.

Detroit fell short of reaching the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

“We played as bad of a first half as we could, but we were still within 17. There’s plenty of points there you can make up,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said. “The D shut them out there in the second half and this dude right next to me (Purdy) made it happen.”

Only New England and Pittsburgh have more Super Bowl wins the San Francisco, which last won it following the 1994 season.

Christian McCaffrey had two TD runs and little-used backup Elijah Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run to make it 34-24 with 3:02 to play as the Niners got over the conference title game hump after losing the past two seasons.

“There’s been unfinished business for a while, man. Our team was set out for this for a long time,” Shanahan said. “It’s been a long year to get to this point, and we got it done today. It was hard at the beginning, but the character we have in our team, the type of guys we have, we can’t wait to get to Vegas, man.”

Reid will lead a team in the Super Bowl for the fifth time, moving into a tie with Tom Landry for third most behind Bill Belichick’s nine and Don Shula’s six. Reid coached the Eagles when the Patriots beat them to repeat 19 years ago.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan returns to the Super Bowl after losing to Reid in his first crack at it. Shanahan was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator when the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead against Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

Mahomes, a two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP, will start in his fourth Super Bowl, tied with Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Peyton Manning, Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly for third-most behind Brady’s 10 and John Elway’s five.

The biggest question is whether Taylor Swift will make it to Las Vegas to watch her boyfriend in the Super Bowl on Feb. 11. Swift, who celebrated with Kelce on the field after the victory over the Ravens, is scheduled to perform in Japan just 24 hours before kickoff.

Swift was born in 1989 and Kelce wears jersey No. 87. American Airlines took notice and set up several flights to and from Las Vegas on Super Bowl weekend in their honor.

Flight 1989 is scheduled to run twice from Kansas City to Las Vegas on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, both departing at 12:30 p.m. local time. And after the game, Flight 87 leaves Las Vegas for Kansas City at 12:20 a.m. local time on Feb. 12.

These aren’t regularly scheduled flights, either.

“You could say that after tonight’s games, we are in our football era, and we are thrilled to provide additional direct flights from Kansas City to Las Vegas,” American Airlines said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “To our customers who are huge sports fans, look what you made us do.”

It wasn’t just Swift and Kelce whose numbers are now flight numbers. There are three Flight 15 offerings, which happens to be quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ jersey. Flight 15 from Kansas City to Las Vegas is on Feb. 8. The same flight number, this time going from Vegas to Kansas City, is offered Feb. 12 and Feb. 13.

There’s also a Flight 1521, combining the numbers of Mahomes and safety Mike Edwards. That one is running from Kansas City to Las Vegas once.