It was the key play in Super Bowl LIV. Patrick Mahomes dropped back on third-and-15 with the Kansas City Chiefs trailing the 49ers by 10, and let the ball go just before DeForest Buckner got to him, connecting with Tyreek Hill for a 44-yard gain that sparked the Chiefs' Super Bowl comeback at Hard Rock Stadium.
Mahomes' might have conjured up memories of another key Super Bowl fourth-quarter completion. One that left the hands of Eli Manning and somehow landed in the grasp of Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI. That pitch and catch was the first and most important play in the New York Giants' game-winning drive to beat the New England Patriots. Manning's throw went in Super Bowl history right behind his throw to David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. For Mahomes' money, Manning's throw to Manningham was a much better throw that his pass to Hill.
“Mine wasn’t as good as Eli’s throw,” Mahomes told NBC Sports' Peter King. “Eli’s throw was money, right on the sideline. On ours, Tyreek ran a heck of a route where he was able to run across the safety’s face and then back towards the pylon. I was just able to put it out there far enough. We were able to change the momentum of the game and then find a way to get a touchdown.”
It's hard to argue with Mahomes. Hill had enough time to break inside and then back out, using his speed to separate from safety Jimmie Ward and present Mahomes with a wide-open target downfield. With Ward trailing the play, Mahomes needed to just put the ball out there and let Hill come up with the biggest play of the game.
Manning took the field at his own 12-yard line with the Giants trailing by two and 3:46 left in the game. The Giants needed their drive to get off to a good start in order to build momentum for their game-winning drive. Manning dropped a 38-yard dime to Manningham along the left sideline and put the Giants in position to once again upset Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Mahomes' 44-yard completion to Hill undoubtedly changed the momentum and outcome of the Super Bowl XLIV. If Mahomes can't complete the pass, the Chiefs would have needed to convert on a fourth-and-15 or else their Super Bowl comeback hopes likely would have been dashed.
But Manning's throw to Manningham is one of the best plays in Super Bowl history and only was made possible by a perfect throw from Manning.
One that undoubtedly still keeps Bill Belichick up at night.