Chiefs will need to win Super Bowl 2021 without last year’s hero

Chiefs will need to win Super Bowl 2021 without last year’s hero

February 5, 2021

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If the Chiefs need another fourth-quarter comeback to win Super Bowl LV, they will have to do it without the teammate who saved the day last year.

Patrick Mahomes was named MVP and remains front and center this week, but there’s been barely a mention of running back Damien Williams, who scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of Super Bowl LIV to turn a late three-point deficit into a 31-20 victory.

“I thought he was going to win [Super Bowl MVP]. Let’s get that clear,” Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman said. “Two touchdowns. He did his thing. I wish he could be here with us playing in another Super Bowl, but I know he did the right thing for him and his family.”

Williams exercised the player option to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He revealed his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

“I never had the opportunity to have my dad there,” Williams said on SiriusXM NFL Radio in July. “My mom is my rock. My everything. So during a hard time like this, I should be next to her every step.”

Williams maintained a low profile all season as the Chiefs’ bid to repeat reached full acceleration. But if there is one example needed to sum up the strangeness of this season, it could be that a Super Bowl hero was stripped of a chance to repeat by a virus he did not contract.

“He’s cheering for the Chiefs, but beyond that he’s not doing any interviews,” agent Ian Greengross said in response to a request from The Post. “He wants those guys to have their moment.”

Williams’ moment is unforgettable to Chiefs diehards. But casual football fans tuning in might confuse him with Darrel Williams — the Chiefs’ leading rusher in each of their last two playoff wins, including a touchdown in the AFC Championship game.

Here’s a reminder of what Damien Williams did to cement a place in Super Bowl lore: With the Chiefs trailing 20-17 and facing third-and-goal, Mahomes faked a handoff to Tyreek Hill and lofted a pass to Williams out of the backfield. He jumped to make the catch and stretched the ball over the goal line just before he was knocked out of bounds.

Then, after the Chiefs forced a turnover on downs, Williams made one cut through a 49ers defense loading the box to stop the run and raced to a 46-yard touchdown.

“He opted out for the right reasons,” Mahomes said. “We still stay in touch with him. He was a vital part of this team last year and will be when he gets back. Our running backs have really held their own. Obviously, Damien will be missed, but hopefully we can win this game and have him back next year and have another chance to make a run at it.”

What will Sunday be like for Williams? A few teammates — like defensive end Alex Okafor, who was injured and unable to participate in last year’s Super Bowl — can relate.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Okafor said. “The hardest thing is knowing you can’t affect the game. It’s so stressful watching a game like this knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to help your team. My advice to him is make peace with the situation before the game and cheer as hard as you can.”

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