To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NFL, the Super Bowl pitted two historic franchises looking for their own piece of history.
Just to claim their position in the playoffs, both teams had to fight it out until the final week of the regular season. Kansas City needed the 4-win Miami Dolphins to pull an upset over the then 2nd seeded New England Patriots, which they did. The win helped the Chiefs land the No. 2 seed in the AFC. A Titans upset over Baltimore gave the Chiefs home field for the conference title game. The 49ers needed to beat Seattle in Seattle, something they had done only once the entire decade. The 49ers made a goal line, 4th down stand, stopping the Seahawks less than 6-inches from the end zone. The win gave the 49ers the No. 1 seed, the division, and home field throughout the playoffs.
With conference titles won, it was on the Super Bowl and history for both teams. For the 49ers, the first franchise to win 5 Super Bowls, they were looking to tie both New England and Pittsburgh with 6 Championships in total. For Kansas City, the Chiefs hadn’t won a title in 50 years.
That was the story line entering Super Bowl 54. It was offense vs defense. A good coach who hasn’t won a Super Bowl versus a coach looking to redeem himself from blowing a 28-3 lead back in Super Bowl 51.
With that, we begin our Super Bowl tidbits…
1- Chiefs wanted this game more than the 49ers did
The way the Chiefs ran their offense in the 1st quarter, I got flashbacks to the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl with the way Doug Pederson went after the New England defense. He attacked. That’s what Reid did. Going for it on 4th down, trick plays; the aggressiveness set the tone early. They didn’t settle for field goals or short yardage punts, they went at the 49ers, and the 49ers were a bit taken back. It took a full quarter for them to get physically into the game.
By the 4th, the Chiefs started doing what they couldn’t do the whole game, attack the 49ers vertically. The bomb to Hill and Watkins were key plays that fueled the comeback. Their 2nd touchdown was set up by a PI call against the 49ers on a pass downfield.
Being aggressive is key.
2- 49ers defense finally broke
All year long, the 49ers defense had been reliable. Even when it seemed like they finally broke, like when they gave up 46 points to the Saints, they came up with two 2-point conversion stops en route to a 48-46 win. On Sunday, for almost 50 minutes, the 49ers defense looked very good. Mahomes had thrown two interceptions and fumbled another ball that was recovered by KC. He seemed a little rattled, and after his second turnover in the 4th quarter, he had a defeated look on him. But the 49ers offense went nowhere, and Mahomes got the ball back. That 3rd and 15 bomb to Tyreke Hill finally broke the 49ers.
In the final 10 minutes, the Chiefs scored 21 straight offensive points en route to the win. Mahomes fired off two touchdowns and the Chiefs capped it with a 38-yard touchdown run.
The 49ers defense finally broke.
3- Referees made some very questionable calls in Kansas City’s favor
The George Kittle PI call might have been the biggest call the refs made this entire postseason, and it cost the 49ers at worst, a field goal and halftime lead. The call itself was questionable, especially when compared to the non-PI call in the Vikings-Saints Wild Card game, where you had a much more obvious push and no-flag was thrown. At this point, I have no clue what a pass interference call is.
There was also two crucial missed calls in the 4th. The first, an obvious offsides by KC on 3rd and 14. Take a look-
All it would have meant, was a 3rd and 9, which for an offense, changes the entire playbook.
The second, was a possible helmet-to-helmet shot on Garoppolo, in which the next angle shown on television, was Garoppolo grabbing his head.
I’m not saying the game was rigged or anything, nor did the 49ers lose because of the refs, but these three calls could have changed the outcome of the football game. The helmet-to-helmet non-call wasn’t bad, I like that they let them play. But if that’s the case, then the PI call was a horrible call. Ask Saints fans about that.
4- Stats don’t mean jack squat
All week long, I heard about stats. Football stats- how this team ranked on offense, and this one on defense. I heard about the Madden video game stats. I heard about the team who wins the coin toss stat and how they’ve won 5 straight Super Bowls or something like that. I even heard a stat about how the team that got the most sacks in the Super Bowl, wins. Blah, blah, blah- none of that mattered, and never did.
Games aren’t won or lost because of stats.
5- What lack of a Chiefs running game?
For all the talk about how great the 49ers running game, and how terrible the Chiefs was, KC actually held their own. They ran for 129 yards on 29 carries and two scores. Damien Williams ran for 104 on just 17 carries. Two weeks prior, Williams had 17 carries for 45 yards in the AFC title game.
Williams could very well have been named Co-MVP with Mahomes.
6. The 49ers blew it
For a team that was known for their ability to bully defenses and run the football, the 49ers in the 4th quarter, completely went against what got them to the Super Bowl, and it cost them a championship.
The 49ers ran the football just three times in the 4th quarter, the fourth being a QB scramble by JimmyG.
They put the football game in Garoppolo’s hands when they really didn’t have to at that moment and time. The 49ers were just a couple of 1st downs from ending the game, and they instead chose to throw the ball, which lead to incomplete passes, clock stoppages, and pressure from the Chiefs defense in 3rd and long passing downs.
7. Steve Spagnuola is a defensive genius
In case you didn’t know how he is, Spagnuola was the defensive coordinator that helped bring down the 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007. In 2019, Spagnuola did it again, bringing down the 2nd best scoring offense in the NFL and pressuring Jimmy Garoppolo into a 4th quarter QB rating of just under three, the lowest in SB history.
He may not be Bill Belichick, but given the right parts, he knows how to run a defense and stop high powered offenses, keeping the mantra alive, that yes, “defense wins championships”.
8- Patrick Mahomes is the man
All two weeks long, the talk was about Mahomes. Mahomes this, Mahomes that. On Super Bowl Sunday, I truly believe, given the situation, that only Patrick Mahomes could have beaten the 49ers. He was under constant pressure, threw his first two interceptions in the postseason, and was down 10-points and facing a 3rd and 15 with essentially the game on the line. He dropped back 14-yards from the line of scrimmage and delivered a ball that was caught for a 41-yard gain. And oh yeah, he had the 49ers Deforest Buckner right in his grill while doing that. It had to be destiny, because truly, in the NFL, nobody else could have done what he did.
Andy Reid trusts his guy, because unfortunately for the 49ers…
9- Shanahan didn’t trust his offense, nor Jimmy Garoppolo
When Shanahan didn’t call a timeout after Kansas City got stopped on 3rd down before halftime, that signaled everything you needed to know about their thoughts on the game. Shanahan didn’t trust his offense, nor his quarterback to use the clock effectively. And when he did take a shot downfield, it worked, for 42-yards. An offensive PI call brought it back, and by then, with only seconds left, there wasn’t much the 49ers could do. Had Shanahan used a timeout after the 3rd down stop, the 49ers would have had roughly 100 seconds to do something, but instead, they wasted 40 seconds, drove to midfield, and got nothing.
Oh what a difference a field goal would have made before the half. Instead of trailing 24-20 in the 4th, the score might have been 24-23, with the 49ers only needing a field goal to win the game instead of a touchdown.
While Shanahan will have to live with his indecision, Andy Reid won’t, because…
10- Andy Reid deserved to hoist a Lombardi Trophy
Andy Reid is a really good coach. In 21 seasons as a head coach for both the Eagles and Chiefs, he’s made the playoffs 14 times, the conference title game seven times, and the Super Bowl twice.
It’s difficult to not root for a guy like Andy Reid. His first Super Bowl win was well deserved, and he earned the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Many good coaches have never won the big one, coaches like Buffalo’s Marv Levy or Minnesota’s Bud Grant, but Reid was finally able to cash in.
Good for him.
From playing with a dynamic quarterback in Donovan McNabb, to a reliable Alex Smith, to the young superstar in Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid knows how to coach, groom quarterbacks, and now, he’s got a Super Bowl ring to cap it off.
Congrats to Coach Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs on winning Super Bowl 54.