With the Kansas City Chiefs being crowned Super Bowl champions for the first time in half a century, yes 50 years, the NFL’s 100th season came to its conclusion with Super Bowl 54, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
So what actually happened that made Kansas City champions for the first time since the 1969 season? And also how did it happen? How did they end up on the victorious end of a 31-20 game with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Chiefs were able to do it despite quarterback Pat Mahomes – 2018 NFL MVP – being at the back-end of his game, even though he was named the game’s MVP (26/42, 286 yds., 2 TD, 2 INT, 78.1 passer rating). And not just by the lofty standards he has set for himself, but by any reasonable disposition. The two interceptions he threw were both his fault, he missed some other throws and committed a fumble which he was able to recover.
And he almost lost the game for Chiefs.
With San Francisco leading 20-10 early in the 4th quarter, Kansas City was driving down the field with Mahomes in control and had seemingly found his rhythm. But then a bad pass deep into the 49ers territory went off his wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, and was picked off. Snuffing out the scoring opportunity and giving the ball back to the 49ers.
With a 10-point lead in the 4th, and possession of the ball, San Francisco seemed poised to bring a 6th Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay Area. But wait a minute. Enter 49ers quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.
He was not able to come up clutch and put the game away. As mentioned previously, those shortcomings reared their ugly head once again. Visible for all to behold. Along with his ill-advised pass to avoid a sack, which resulted in an interception, to which the Chiefs turned into a field goal, Garoppolo:
- leading 20-10 in the 4th was unable lead the 49ers to any points, move the ball or simply kill time on the clock
- leading 20-17 had his pass on 2nd and 5 batted down, while not attempting to hit wide receiver Deebo Samuel who was wide open to his right in the flat, and failed on the 3rd down
- down 24-20 overthrew Emmanuel Sanders who had beaten two Chiefs defenders on what would have possibly been the game winning TD pass, or would have put them ahead 27-24 with about a minute or so to go
This was telling, but it was foreshadowed for us throughout the playoffs. In the Divisional Round vs. the Minnesota Vikings, after Garoppolo threw an interception, head coach Kyle Shanahan took the ball out of his hands, as the Niners ran the ball on their next nine offensive plays. In the NFC Championship Game, he attempted a grand total of eight passes.
In the Super Bowl, with San Francisco about to obtain the ball after a stop with a little more than 90 seconds in the 1st half, and with all three timeouts, Shanahan elected not to stop the clock, and maybe try to get some points with the game tied at 10. Why? He wasn’t fearful or obtuse, he just lacked faith in his quarterback.
That lack of faith came to fruition in the final 11 minutes of the game, in which Garoppolo had a reported QBR (Quarterback rating) of a pitiful three. This on a scale of 0 – 100.
Mahomes who was not great, was good enough. Especially when it mattered the most; in the 4th quarter. After throwing that interception he was able to engineer two scoring drives, both culminating in TD passes from him, to spur Kansas City to victory.
We must give a salute to Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who went into Super Bowl 54 as the man with the most victories as a head coach without a Super Bowl win, finally won one. Although he lost Super Bowl 39 as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21 to the New England Patriots (who have their question marks), wasn’t denied this time.
So in summary that’s what happened and why.
Will the Chiefs be a dynasty? The 49ers talked about their bright future with the young team and excellent head coach, Shanahan. Still, they may want to take a closer look at their QB situation after what happened.