In the end, the Chiefs couldn’t be stopped. The 49ers came closer than anybody else, holding a 10-point lead into the 4th quarter. But for a record-setting third third time this postseason, the Chiefs came roaring back from a double digit deficit, and captured their first Super Bowl win in 50 years.
Patrick Mahomes was brilliant in the fourth quarter, igniting Kansas City’s late-game rally with a 44-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill on third down. The throw-and-catch set up the Chiefs in scoring position for the first time since early in the 2nd quarter, and just four plays later, they were in the end zone.
KC never looked back.
For the first three quarters, the Niners’ defense dominated the Chiefs up front. Mahomes was under duress and threw two interceptions — while also getting strip-sacked by Nick Bosa. But as the Texans and Titans learned, defenses cannot hope to stop Mahomes. They can only wish to contain him.
Ultimately, those who picked the Chiefs to win outright and cover the spread — such as yours truly — were correct. The three biggest lessons we learned from Super Bowl LIV can be found below:
Chiefs just too unstoppable in the end
The Chiefs once again showed they’re capable of turning games around in a flash when Mahomes found Hill down the field on 3rd-and-15 with 7:13 remaining in regulation. Earlier in the drive, Kansas City got flagged for a false start, and a completion to Hill got reversed after replay review. In addition, Mahomes’ two interceptions were passes intended for Hill.
But Mahomes and Hill unlocked their game-breaking ability, and the Niners’ defense could never recover. Later in the drive, following a generous pass interference call, Mahomes avoided the pressure and stepped up in the pocket to find Travis Kelce in the middle of the end zone. The touchdown put KC within three points, and on their next drive, they put up another six in seven plays. The signature play was Mahomes finding Sammy Watkins for 38 yards down the field, beating Richard Sherman.
Something about Kyle Shanahan and 4th quarter Super Bowl leads …
Super Bowl leads and Kyle Shanahan continue to not mix. His most questionable series of play-calling came following the Chiefs’ second touchdown drive, which cut SF’s lead to 20-17 with 6:13 left. On the first play from scrimmage, running back Raheem Mostert barreled forward for five forwards. But then Shanahan called for two straight pass plays, and they fell incomplete.
Jimmy Garoppolo played valiantly through the first three quarters, but finished the game 3-for-10 with an interception. While the Chiefs’ defensive line deserves a lot of credit for their relentless pressure — Chris Jones knocking down Garoppolo’s quick pass on 2nd-and-5 with 5:24 left was one of the plays of the game — Garoppolo missed several throws late. The most egregious error was an overthrow intended to Emmanuel Sanders, who was wide open deep into Kansas City territory. The incompletion on 3rd-and-10 represented the Niners’ last realistic hope.
Chiefs used offseason wisely
The Chiefs recognized their defense was too soft last season, as the Patriots overpowered them in the second half of the AFC Championship. So they fired Bob Sutton and hired Steve Spagnuolo, while bringing in heavy hitters such as Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu. Clark, wearing Dee Ford’s replacement, sacked Garoppolo on 4th-and-10 with 1:25 left.
The Chiefs wisely built around their All-World QB, and gave him a supporting cast capable of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Andy Reid finally gets his Super Bowl, too, cementing his Hall of Fame legacy.
This postseason will be remembered as Kansas City’s showcase. They simply couldn’t be kept down, and are rightful Super Bowl favorites heading into next season.