Fifty years after winning Super Bowl IV, the Lombardi trophy has made its long-awaited return to Kansas City. After falling behind 20-10 with just over six minutes to play in the game, the Chiefs looked dead in the water; with a defense struggling to stop the run game and an offense that couldn’t string positive plays together.
Much like they had throughout the playoffs, the Chiefs found a way to rally back behind the arm of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and one of the most exciting offenses in football. It started with a touchdown toss to tight end Travis Kelce, who led all tight ends in the NFL in receiving yards for 2019.
After a stop from their oft-maligned defense, the Chiefs marched back down the field on their ensuing drive and capped it off with what would be an eventual game-winning touchdown by running back Damien Williams.
In the first half, the teams traded touchdowns and field goals and met at a 10-10 deadlock. Neither offense nor defense was spectacular, but both had their moments in the game. Patrick Mahomes endured a violent hit from 49ers safety Jimmie Ward; however, he scored just a few plays later. In the second quarter, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo found fullback Kyle Juszczyk who romped into the end zone for a touchdown.
In the closing seconds of the first half, Garoppolo dropped a beauty of a pass right into tight end George Kittle’s arms for a play that looked to set up the 49ers for points. The play would be called back due to a controversial pass interference call on Kittle, which many cited as a poor call by the referees. Regardless, the teams went into the locker rooms tied up at 10.
The 49ers jumped out to a lead to start the second half, intercepting Mahomes twice and doubling their point total to make it 20-10. Ordinarily, this deficit would be very hard to overcome for a team. Comebacks in any football game require quality offense and defense, and the Chiefs had to do it in a very short time-frame. With 24-point and 10-point comebacks in the previous two games however, the Chiefs were more than ready for this type of adversity.
Something that isn’t talked about much is the play of the Chiefs’ defense during the final quarter. Not only did they force stops to give their offense additional chances, but they were able to shut down San Francisco in the closing minutes and held the lead. Some will point to Garoppolo being “just a game manager” or being a “system QB,” but at the end of the day, the Chiefs did what they had to do defensively.
Head coach Andy Reid earned his 222nd career win and his first Super Bowl championship as a head coach in the game while Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes completed what may be the most successful first two starting seasons for a player in NFL history.
Unfortunately for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, he’s now been part of two Super Bowl blown leads. He was on the coaching staff of the Falcons during the infamous 28-3 game, where the Patriots stormed back and won their fifth Super Bowl in 16 years. Despite his seemingly snakebitten career, Shanahan and the 49ers still boast one of the brightest rosters in the league and look to return to the big game before long.
With the Lombardi back in Kansas City, the title defense begins for the Chiefs as the offseason begins.