San Francisco 49ers 20-31 Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chief’s New School Vs San Francisco 49er’s Old School
After a week of build up, Super Bowl 54 got off to a rather unexplosive start at the Hard Rock stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins as Patrick Mahomes, the star studded Quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, threw two pedestrian incomplete passes to force an early punt. Could the stage be too big for this young star?
Though in this season’s post season, Mahomes and his Chiefs have started slow and come back from behind to win games, but they have not faced the 49ers aggressive defense line where all four players on the line are first round picks!
Under the wily guise of long time NFL Head Coach, Andy Reid, the Chiefs utilise the 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes, by giving him lots of exotic plays, including “read” plays where he or the running back end up with the ball, or the “Run , pass, option” also known as the RPOs, where the play could be a run or a pass depending on what Mahomes decides to do based on what the defense does just after the snap of the ball. It is exciting and unpredictable.
Meanwhile the 49ers, under Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, play a much more traditional old school offensive game. They like to set up the “off tackle” run and then run the play action off that. Jimmy Garropoolo, the 49ers quarterback does not have the athleticism or the improvisational skills that Mahomes does, and is much more a “game manager” and “pocket passer” type quarterback than his counterpart. Garropolo has almost identical regular season statistics with Mahomes this season, though he stays in the pocket, as the 49ers play a much more traditional run first policy. Though despite Mahomes being the better player, historically “pocket passers” win more Super Bowls.
10-10 at half time: Is Mahomes rattled?
Despite having a long touchdown scoring drive, which was capped off by Mahomes running it in for the one yard score, he had been hit several times during the game. These hits were not due to the pocket collapsing around him, but because by operating the “read option” and the “RPO” style football, these expose the quarterback and Mahomes put his body on the line several times.
Garopoolo didn’t start too well either by throwing an interception in his second drive, but on his third drive he picked out full back Kyle Juszczyk, who galloped in for a fifteen yard touchdown. Going into the break I felt the 49ers had the edge. Granted they did not takes risks on fourth down like the Chiefs did, but if they could control the game with running and keep the ball away from Mahomes then they should win this with their patient and pragmatic approach.
3rd Quarter: Mahomes slump
After a wonderful half time show from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (and some guy who looked like Ali G) the 49ers got a field goal. Then Mahomes threw back to back interceptions. The 49ers capitalised on this and picked up a second touchdown via a one yard rush from 49ers running back, Raheem Mostert. Mahomes was making poor decisions and this may well have been from the shots he took in the risky game plan of the first half.
With the Chiefs now ten points behind and with the 49ers having a great yet predictable run game, the Chiefs needed something magic to happen if they were to lift the Lombardi trophy.
The Turning Point. Mahomes comes alive
After throwing two incompletions, Mahomes was facing 3rd and fifteen from his own 35 yard line. The powerful 49ers were dominating, but something had to change. Instead of Mahomes trying to roll out, or escape the pressure, like he had been up until this point, he backed up a long distance waiting for someone to get open downfield, and then launched a bomb, just as he was hit. The speedy wideout, Tyreek Hill, put a double move on his defender and found space downfield as he brought down 44 yard pass, striking into the 49ers red zone. This was by far the biggest play of the game and it shocked the 49ers to the core.
The 49ers were now rattled despite being ten points up. They then gave up a long pass interference play before Patrick Mahomes threw to his loyal tight end Travis Kelce in the end zone for a one yard strike, taking it to 17-20 score for the 49ers.
The 49ers really just had to get a field goal, and chew some clock to win this one out, but the chiefs defense forced a three and out, and the momentum had shifted.The winning team now looked like they had no answers on offense.
With Mahomes red hot, he threw up a peach of a 38 yard strike with touch into double coverage for Sammy Watkins to catch. Three plays later and Mahomes zipped a ball to running back Damien Williams who stretch his arm out as he ran out of bounds to break the plane for a touchdown, taking the score to 24-20 to the Chiefs.
With time running out, the 49ers had to get a touchdown on their next drive to be in front. The Chiefs defense held tough and the 49ers ended up giving the ball back on downs. This pretty much meant it was game over. In garbage time, the 49ers went all out on defense, which exposed them, and Chiefs running back, Damien Williams put the knife in with a 38 touchdown run .
It was a very good Super Bowl, with both teams operating different styles. The momentum kept changing hands, but in the end the Chiefs were the better and the more inventive team, and at the end of the day, the better quarterback was the difference. Despite three poor quarters Patrick Mahomes fully deserved the Super Bowl MVP, and his free trip to Disneyland.
Written by Adam Goldstein @tailgateknight