There’s no denying that the ’never say die’ attitude is something that teams around the NFL have to possess if they are to become world-beaters. However, executing that from an attitude to reality is much easier said than done, well, unless you’re Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs that is.
Heading into Super Bowl LIV, the Chiefs had been behind by at least 10 points in both the Divisional Round and the AFC Conference Championship. So.. Why did we think the Super Bowl vs the most complete team all season – the San Francisco 49ers was going to be any different, right?
In the build-up to the game, much of the talk was about who was going to gain the upper hand at the Hard Rock Stadium and get a hold of the game? Unlike previous Super Bowls, this one was by far the toughest one to call in many of year.
Nonetheless, having won the toss and electing to defer, it was the Niners, who would go on to draw first blood via a 38-yard field goal from Robbie Gould. 10 plays, 62-yards with the highlight being a 32-yard rush from Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel.
Having been held to a 3 & out in his first drive of the game, Mahomes returned to the field, needing to find his feet in Miami Gardens. It was evident in that Chiefs first possession of the game that early nerves were something that Mahomes was slightly feeling. That said, the Chiefs second drive of the game would have almost definitely put those nerves to bed.
15 plays, 75-yards and near seven and a half minutes of time on the drive, the former league MVP continued to show that his game on the ground is just as good as his game through the air.
Despite fumbling the ball just two plays earlier Mahomes ran the ball to the house on a 2nd & goal to hand his team their first score of the game and also hand the lead to Kansas City. Nerves? What nerves?… (More on this later).
With the Chiefs offense managing to keep the ball rolling, the Niners received the ball back with just 31 seconds left in the first, and Andy Reid’s team had the upper hand after what was a very fast-paced first 15 minutes of the game.
Something worth noting was that five of the six first downs gained by the Chiefs in the first quarter all came in the second drive and we’re also via the ground. Remember I mentioned something about nerves? Yeah, this was perfect game management from Kansas City.
Running the ball felt like not only was it paying off but it was allowing Mahomes to bed himself into the biggest game of his young career so far. Smart move with big rewards at the tail end of the drive.
The game had all the feels like it was a true momentum swinger and as I mentioned at the top, all the talk was about who was going to gain the upper hand and take control of the game. It was now less about Mahomes and more about how the Niners and Jimmy Garoppolo would respond. The Hard Rock was certainly rocking and Miami Gardens felt like Arrowhead but just a little warmer.
With Jimmy G and his offense, which has been so good all season, heading onto the field, the Niners were looking to capitalise on the early success that Samuel had found them. However, Chiefs had other ideas and on a 2nd & 12, after his first pass intended for Samuel was incomplete, Garoppolo came out of the shotgun with another pass intended to his WR, only this time he intercepted by cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
While the big play from Breeland ultimately led to a 31-yard Butker field goal, the Chiefs were starting to buck the trend of their postseason and not fall behind as we had seen against the Texans and Titans in the last two previous games.
The Chiefs lead however didn’t last long as the Niners established a run game of their own and through Raheem Mostert, Samuel and Tevin Coleman found themselves on a 1st & 15 on the Kansas City 15-yard line. Jimmy G threw to ‘Juice’ Juszczyk for 15-yards and the touchdown and the ball game was tied, something of which would be the case through the remaining five minutes as the first half of the game came to a close.
If the first half was anything to go by then we all knew that the second would not disappoint, and the game just as expected was a very close contest with neither team really keeping hold of the momentum. This was also just the fourth time in Super Bowl history that the game was tied at the half.
With the game on a knife-edge, the second half got underway and it was the Niners who picked up where they left off in the first. After picking up three first downs thanks to Samuel, Coleman and George Kittle, the Niners settled for an FG on a 4th & 2 on the Kansas City 24-yard line. Gould, as expected at this point, converted and once again the lead was with San Francisco.
Having held the Niners to just three, it was the turn of Mahomes and the Chiefs to respond, and after a holding call on Byron Pringle, they found themselves on a 1st & 10 on their own 9-yard line. Mahomes found Sammy Watkins, one of his trusted go-to guys this year for what seemed the first time in forever and Sammy didn’t disappoint, as he gained the Chiefs some breathing room by picking up a solid 19-yards.
Despite the good work of Watkins and also Damien Williams, the pendulum was about to swing very much towards the Niners and for the first time in the game, it looked as if one of these team were about to get a firm hold on the contest.
Remember at the top we spoke about nerves? Yeah, half time didn’t do Mahomes any favours in that department, as after getting sacked by Nick Bosa and fumbling the ball, the quarterback was now on a 3rd & 12. Mahomes would go on to throw his first INT of the game as Fred Warner picked him off and hand the advantage back into the hands of his team.
Following the Warner pick, Garoppolo took full advantage of his opportunity to stamp his team’s authority on the game. Jimmy G found Samuel for 16-yards and Kendrick Bourne for 26-yards before once again finding Juszczyk for 10, setting up a 1st & 1 on the Kansas City 1-yard line.
Mostert’s 1-yard rushing TD brought the Niners drive to an end and in just six plays overall, San Francisco and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan had their noses well and truly in front. For the Chiefs, yet again, they were facing a 10 point deficit as we headed into the fourth and final quarter of the season. Chiefs down by 10? Sound familiar?
With the last 15 to go, it looked as if the Niners were very much in pole position to go on to claim their 6th Super Bowl title, and after Mahomes was sacked for a loss of 9-yards on a 1st & 10, and then intercepted by Tarvarius Moore on a 3rd & 6 right on the Niners 23-yard line, it was almost certain with 11:57 to go.
However, if we have learnt anything from the last two games then it’s that you can never rule the Chiefs out and you can definitely not rule out Mahomes. The Chiefs managed to force the Niners to punt after just seven downs and with 8:53 remaining, Mahomes had to go to work… And boy didn’t he!
After 11 plays which consisted of an out of bounds fumble, four no huddles, a San Francisco challenge and two penalties, the Chiefs were handed a lifeline back into the game.
After Moore was called for pass interference on a pass from Mahomes to Kelce in the endzone, the Chiefs were banging on the door with a 1st & 1 on the Niners 1-yard line after the call. This queued up ￼the two-man link up that no one can ever get tired of (unless you aren’t a Chiefs fan I guess). Mahones found a wide-open Kelce for a 1-yard touchdown pass and Kansas City were back in with a shout. Also, with 6:13 left to play.
By the time the Niners took their next snap, there were just over six minutes remaining and with a slender three-point lead, the Niners and Shanahan needed to be smart. They simply needed to keep the ball moving and run the clock down. Moreover, they failed to do so and having been forced into a 3 & out, the momentum suddenly shifted once again and the Hard Rock Stadium suddenly became Arrowhead once more. The Chiefs and Mahomes were ready to pounce.
And pounce the did, as six plays later Kansas City were back in front. After Mahomes found Watkins on a huge 38-yard reception, the Chiefs were back in enemy territory and despite getting sacked on a 2nd & 4 at the Niners 4-yard line, Mahomes’ magic moment came via an unbelievable effort from Williams to somehow squeeze the ball into the endzone before he was pushed out of bounds. As you would expect, the score was reviewed by the replay center before the ruling on the field was confirmed that officials we’re absolutely right to originally award the touchdown.
As you could imagine, the Niners were not going to just sit back and take that, this was supposed to be. Garoppolo’s year, this was supposed to be Shanahan’s season, the Niners had been by far the most complete team all season! However, with 2:44 remaining in the game, they needed a score and leave it all out on the field. Of course, this is easier said than done and despite his best efforts, Jimmy G could not provide the goods.
After three straight incomplete passes to Samuel, Bourne and Emmanuel Sanders, Garoppolo simply had to make a huge play if he was to get the 4th & 10 he was facing on the Chiefs 49-yard line. That said, he couldn’t and when Frank Clark proceeded to sack him, Niners hopes were shattered, especially given there was a mere 1:33 left to play.
The final 1:33 would have felt like it took an age to pass for both teams for very opposite reasons but with time running down, the game was far from done. The Chiefs took over the ball and what followed will go down in Kansas City folklore, as the moment that 50 years of hurt come to an electrifying end.
Having picked up 4-yards on a previous rush, Williams was handed the rock again on a 2nd & 6 on the Niners 38, and from all the way from that exact spot, Damien Williams became the hero that put the icing on the Super Bowl cake for Andy Reid as he took it all the way to the house for a 38-yard rushing touchdown. Butker kicked the extra point and the game was over!
That, of course, was before the Niners and Garoppolo had one final longshot chance but were picked off by Kendall Fuller with 1:08 left to play. Mahomes took a knee on the following three plays before throwing the ball deep to run the clock out with:05 on the clock.
The Chiefs had done it, Andy Reid on his 222nd career victory on the 2/2/2020 had done it, Patrick Mahomes had done it!
THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WERE SUPER BOWL LIV CHAMPIONS AFTER 50 LONG YEARS!
As I mentioned above, if there’s one thing we simply couldn’t and probably still can’t do then it’s write off this Chiefs team. Down 10 in the Divisional Game, down 10 in the AFC Championship Game, and now down 10 in the Super Bowl to come back to win the NFL’s richest prize, it’s something that you have to admire. It’s tough on the Niners, who had been so good all season but when it came down to it, the Chiefs finally showed their potential and it was unreal! Congratulations Kansas City Chiefs and Coach Andy Reid!
(Main image credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press)