NFL future looks bright in the magic hands of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes

Great players win Super Bowls. Legends win Super Bowls in the fourth quarter.

Three years into his career, and at just 24 years of age, it is time to hail Patrick Mahomes a modern day legend of the game.

Fitting, in a year when the NFL has honoured its greatest players as part of their 100-year celebrations.

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The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback showed in the balmy heat of Miami that he is the man to take the league into the next century.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 game in Miami. Picture: AP/Seth Wenig

Harrassed for three quarters by San Francisco’s vaunted and suffocating pass rush, the boy wonder of the sport appeared for the first time in his short career to be vulnerable.

But unfazed by a 10-point deficit with a little over eight minutes left, Mahomes launched a 44-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill to reignite Kansas City hopes.

A pass interference call on Travis Kelce and a short pass to the same tight end later, and the Chiefs were back from the dead and only 20-17 behind.

And when they needed their defence to stand firm against a 49ers offense that had kept them guessing all night with reverse sweeps and unerring accuracy from Jimmy Garoppolo, they did so, giving Mahomes the ball back with just over five minutes on the clock.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a long pass against the San Francisco 49ers. Picture: AP/Wilfredo Lee

Conventional wisdom would suggest they try to score by taking as much time off the clock as possible, but not the Chiefs, not Mahomes. Speed is the essence of this offence; whether it’s their lightning-quick wide receivers or how quickly they score, particularly in a play-off run in which they have made 10-point deficits evaporate in a heartbeat.

Mahomes’s five-yard pass to Damien Williams was enough for the go-ahead score, although the 49ers can feel aggrieved that the touchdown was awarded with Williams’ toe looking to be out of bounds before he actually breached the goalline with the nose of the ball.

Even then, the Chiefs had to withstand a three-minute drill from the Garoppolo-led 49ers, who had barely put a foot wrong all night but lacked the minerals that the Chiefs showed when it mattered most.

Kansas City only needed a first down on the next possession to ice the game but Williams found a hole and danced down the left for a 38-yard score that put the gloss on their first championship in 50 years.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, greets San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after the NFL Super Bowl 54. Picture: AP/Patrick Semansky

It did at least lend weight to a statistic that underlines the run this indefatigable Kansas City team has been on.

They trailed in every play-off game by more than 10 points, and went on to win each game by double digits.

The turnaround at the Hard Rock Stadium was the most remarkable, given how little time was left and how they had been largely second best to the 49ers, for whom defensive back Nick Bosa was excellent in pressuring Mahomes and wide receiver Deebo Samuel was a menace in sweep plays.

But the greatest players are the ones who produce the greatest moments.

MAIN EVENT: The Kansas City Chiefs' and San Francisco 49ers at the start of the NFL Super Bowl in Miami. Picture: AP/Charlie Riedel

Having previously thrown two interceptions during a scoreless period that amounted to more than 30 minutes, Mahomes might have accepted it was not his night.

“I just kept firing,” was the gunslinger’s reply when asked afterwards by the assemlbed media if the interceptions had affected his confidence.

“He just kept firing,” agreed his head coach, Andy Reid, a few minutes later.

Coach and quarterback in complete sync on and off the field.

And so Kansas City has its first title for half a century.

Reid has a first Super Bowl ring after more victories in NFL games than all but just five coaches in the history of the game.

Kansas City Chiefs Frank Clark, left, and Patrick Mahomes celebrate after the defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl 54 in Miami. Picture: AP/David J. Phillip

The future, though, belongs to Mahomes.