Super Bowl LIV – Mahomes seizes the moment in a see-sawing contest we’ll never forget.

By the time you read this, Kansas City will have begun one hell of a party.

 

Not since Dorothy and Toto found themselves swirled up and out of her little farm has the American city that shares its name with the neighbouring state found itself so popular. This time, a young man with an infectious grin and a wild mop of hair is the protagonist after a scintillating redemptive run in the last quarter of Super Bowl LIV saw the Chiefs hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 1970.

 

A heavily-anticipated match-up between two varied teams, the latest installation of the NFL’s premier day was set to be played in gorgeous Miami conditions. Hard Rock Stadium glistened in the waning sunlight as both teams waltzed out to thunderous cheers. Having only won four games last season, the San Francisco 49ers were on the precipice of completing a thrilling redemption story. The dominant franchise had to overcome the imposing offence of the Kansas City Chiefs, who had undertaken massive comebacks in both of their playoff matches.

 

Deciding to defer possession, the 49ers let their defence do the talking against Kansas City’s quarterback Pat Mahomes. Accompanied by a flurry of fleet-footed companions, the third-year quarterback struggled to slip into gear. Full of talented defenders including the experienced ex-Seahawk Richard Sherman, San Fran’s defence started off excellently. Playing with the nous of his former teammate in Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo manoeuvered his side into good field position for the opening field goal of the match.

 

Already looking a more thrilling contest than last year’s dour game, Mahomes began to get the chains moving for his nervy side. Used to aggression and long precision passing, the Chiefs had to mix up their game plan early. A more measured attack of shorter passes and crucial rushes got them down near the end zone, giving Mahomes the chance to run over the Chiefs’ opening touchdown.

 

Locked in a bruising contest, the absorbing match continued to ebb and flow into the second quarter. Garoppolo began to back his arm in more, throwing the ball a lot more times than he had in previous play-off wins. His reward was a touchdown for his side, adding some much-needed impetus to the scoreboard.

 

Both sides faltered – Garoppolo threw an easy sky ball that was intercepted by the Chiefs. Instead of making them pay with a touchdown, Andy Reid’s side could only muster a field goal that sent both sides into half time without a leader.

 

Fresh out of the shadows of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s half-time performance, Mahomes was harassed and pressured into an interception. Not looking as accurate and magical as usual, the 49ers looked to have surged into a championship-clinching lead when Garoppolo again engineered a touchdown. The clock was ticking down quickly, and the Chiefs found themselves staring down the barrel of a shattering Super Bowl defeat.

 

For most teams, a 10-point deficit going into the last quarter of a Super Bowl would be a nervy time to play football. The Chiefs had form on their side though – in both playoff games they won they were down by at least 10 points before storming back into contention. Coming up against the best defence in the league who managed to snatch another interception of Mahomes in the second half, this was going to be their hardest challenge yet.

 

A 50-year drought for the proud franchise looked set to continue for another year when Mahomes couldn’t find his way near the end zone in the opening forays of the final quarter. The 49ers looked too mature, too strong and too determined. It was then that Kansas City’s weakness became their strength.

 

Normally known for their blistering offence, the Chiefs had to rely on their defence. With Garoppolo threatening to take the game away from them, Andy Reid’s men held the 49ers up. Mahomes had another chance to engineer a drive towards the end zone; the champion wasn’t going to pass up on this opportunity.

 

Correcting his shaky accuracy, a beautiful high throw flew over 40 yards when his side were facing a 3rd down and 15 yards to hit Tyreek Hill. One of the best players out there, Hill continued to find space when it mattered. Now right near the goal area, prominent tight-end Travis Kelce fumbled a throw from Mahomes, and the momentum appeared to have halted. But a yellow flag lay on the ground. The penalty gave the Chiefs another go at it, and this time Mahomes found Kelce in space.

 

It wasn’t panic stations for San Fran yet; they still had the ball and the lead. A touchdown-scoring drive from Garoppolo would see him emulate his old quarterback up in Boston soon enough. Calm all day, the 49ers were now flustered.

 

The Chiefs once again found that their defence was winning them this game. Quickly sending the 49ers out, Garoppolo’s chance to take the game away from Kansas City fell right through his fingers.

 

The Miami crowd rose for a tense final five minutes. Everything was on the line – seasons, careers, even lives could come down to these moments. Pat Mahomes had endured a nightmare yet had the chance to resurrect his Super Bowl reputation and lead his success-hungry side to an unprecedented win.

 

What happened next was incredible. Kansas City worked their way up the field shakily – some magical plays were interspersed with tense misses. Despite all the obstacles put in front of him by San Francisco’s vaunted defence, Mahomes found his way down the other end of the field. Ignoring the interceptions and missed passes that had threatened to plague his day, the youngster drilled another touchdown pass, and Missouri erupted.

 

Knowing they weren’t champions yet, Mahomes strolled off the field and calmly let his defenders get to work. They duly sent San Fran out of possession again – Garoppolo and his wide array of rushing choices had been made virtually redundant.

 

Looking to wind down the clock with some first downs, the Chiefs got more than they bargained for. A hand-off to Damien Williams saw him burst through a seemingly impenetrable San Fran defence, and into the end zone. It’s a moment that’ll be soon accompanied by Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and sent into social media circulation. Hairs stood up on the back of the neck. It wasn’t over yet, but the majority of people tuning in knew the Lombardi Trophy was heading back to Kansas City, straddling that namesake state border. Just like Dorothy, it had been gone for a long time. Unlike the pint-sized protagonist, Mahomes had torn up the script and sent it back into the American heartland.

 

Another terrific interception capped off the win. It had been a glorious five minutes for Kansas City – it’s probably deserved when you consider the half-century of failure they had been forced to endure. Now, with Andy Reid being drenched in Gatorade and Mahomes accepting his MVP award, a beautiful dream is forged out of the fires of near heartbreak. The hurt his reserved for San Fran. In its 100th season, the NFL ends with the West Coast denied and  Missouri clinching what they have so dearly wanted for so many years.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Dr Goatboat says

    Missed the game, but a great report. Thanks

  2. Didn’t see the match but you made me feel like I did. Those TV highlights in the evening news now make sense. Great writing – thanks Sean.

  3. I got to watch the game in real time in the far north of Canada. A game that was a clash of mindsets, the calm running game, solid young defence and low risk 49ers versus the high octane offence and manic defence of the Chiefs. Yet it was their defense that allowed the K C Chiefs the chance to come back from the dead Jimmy G and the SF offence was stopped twice in the last quarter forcing the Aussie Punter from Perth WA Mitch Wishnowsky( that is a story in itself) on to the field to give the ball back to the fantastic Mahomes who is gunslinger, runner,gun passer and who took two incredibly tough hits in the second half.
    A good game I’m glad for Andy Reid the Chiefs coach who on 2 20 2020 won game 220 in the NFL He has always been a good coach both in KC and Philly with the Eagles
    I’m glad the Packers didn’t make it past the championship game they would have been smashed by the Chiefs!!

  4. Daryl Schramm says

    Great article Sean. Saw the start and the second half at home. Had planned to attend one of the functions the pubs were advertising but was too knackered and nodded off after the start. Found myself wanting the Chiefs to win but some third quarter mishaps suggested they wouldn’t. The result and the drama was amazing. Many thanks.

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