This post is a summary of a Five Minutes of Football History edition of The Game Before the Money Podcast. New episodes are released each Tuesday. Please subscribe to this football history podcast on your favorite podcast app.
Let’s take a look at three fourth-quarter comebacks in NFL Championships and see what they have in common. We all saw the Patrick Mahomes led fourth-quarter comeback in Super Bowl 54. Kansas City scored 21 points in the fourth quarter after trailing by 10 going into the final period.
Although this comparison isn’t meant to compare Patrick Mahomes with two of the most legendary quarterbacks in NFL history, it is interesting to note what his Super Bowl 54 comeback has in common with Otto Graham’s two-score comeback in the 1950 NFL Championship Game and Johnny Unitas’ legendary drives to win the 1958 NFL Championship Game.
Graham led the Browns to victory over the Rams in 1950 with two fourth-quarter scoring drives. Cleveland won 30-28. Mahomes led Kansas City to three fourth-quarter scoring drives in Super Bowl 54. Unitas led the Baltimore Colts to a game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter and a game-winning drive in overtime.
The championships were the first NFL championship for each quarterback. The comebacks in 1950 and 1958 placed a cornerstone from which they built epic careers. Although Graham had already won pro championships in the AAFC, the 1950 NFL championship banner proved his greatness in any pro league. Those comebacks stand as headline moments in their careers.
Graham went on to lead the Browns to the NFL Championship Game for the next five seasons. Unitas pulled another fourth-quarter comeback stunt the next year, in 1959. What’s next for Mahomes? No one knows, but history tells us that it is likely that he’ll return to the Super Bowl at some point in his career.
History also tells us that quarterbacks who win one Super Bowl are also likely to win multiple Super Bowls. As Tom Brady heads into the twilight of his career with a new team, the spotlight searches for who might be the next NFL quarterback to write a storied history with chapters of miracle wins in big games.
Mahomes’ comeback in Super Bowl 54 wrote his first championship chapter. Let’s not forget he led his team to victory after trailing by 24 points in the Divisional Playoffs and 10 points in the AFC Championship. Those wins weaved a magical season together that will be remembered for a long time, just like the wins Otto Graham and Johnny Unitas carved into NFL folklore many years ago.
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