Late Comeback Caps Super Bowl LIV

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The San Francisco 49ers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV

Patrick Schmitz, Scribe Reporter

Once again the NFL has crowned the best team in the league as Super Bowl Champions. Over the last decade we have seen Tom Brady and the New England Patriots conquer this stage several times, but this year’s match-up featured young teams that represent a new generation of fans. The Kansas City Chiefs, in particular, made it to their first Super Bowl in 50 years, while it has been seven years since the “Blackout Bowl” for the San Francisco 49ers.

This year the Super Bowl pitted the Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes and the San Francisco 49ers led by Jimmy Garoppolo. Patrick Mahomes led his team to victory after trailing by double-digits in the previous two games leading up to the Super Bowl.  The 49ers made their way to the Super Bowl carried by a brutally efficient running game. True to pattern, Super Bowl viewers were treated to an amazing comeback by Patrick Mahomes that also triggered flashbacks to the Falcons 28-3 comeback four years ago.

To start the game, both teams looked evenly matched and no one established a clear advantage. The Chiefs coach, Andy Reid took a big risk in the first quarter attempting to convert on fourth down rather than punting the ball away.  But the gamble paid off with a trick play and this set them up for a touchdown. Surprisingly, MVP Patrick Mahomes was having a mediocre day while it looked like the 49ers defense was just getting started. Nick Bosa in particular, the rookie defensive end for the 49ers, looked great early only but slowed as the game progressed. At the end of the 2nd quarter it was tied 10-10 with about one minute left when the 49ers had the ball and were threatening to score.  The 49ers chose to not to call a timeout and a costly pass interference penalty ended their drive, keeping the scored knotted going into halftime. Coach Kyle Shanahan for the 49ers was happy going into halftime tied, yet it looked like he didn’t trust Garoppolo enough to score.

After halftime the 49ers kicked a field goal to open things up, but it was a questionable move by Shanahan. The 49ers were deep in the Chiefs territory and only needed 4yds to pick up a first down but instead kicked a field goal to take a slim lead; this decision would later haunt many of their fans. Nevertheless, the 49ers continued to successfully execute their offense and scored a touchdown late in the third quarter. Patrick Mahomes, however, struggled, throwing two interceptions.  He struggled and did not look like the MVP who had dazzled the NFL all season. At the end of the third quarter, the 49ers were up 20-10 and poised to run out the clock to victory.

At the start of the fourth quarter the 49ers punted for the first time all game, giving Patrick Mahomes and Chief vaunted offense plenty of time to work. Starting with ten minutes left on the game clock, Patrick Mahomes drove down field and scored a touchdown to bring the game to 20-17. The 49ers got the ball back and Kyle Shanahan chose to throw the ball, despite their dominant running attack. Kyle Shanahan called some good plays, but Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t make the throws, and he was picked off by Chiefs.

Garoppolo’s late interception gave Patrick Mahomes a chance to take this game back. The Chiefs drove down the field and scored a touchdown which put them ahead. The 49ers got the ball back and moved downfield, but failed to score. They had one shot at a touchdown, but Jimmy Garoppolo overthrew an open Emanuel Sanders.  A completed pass would have won them the game. The Chiefs would end up scoring yet another late touchdown, effectively closing the door on any comebacks.

This dramatic finish reminded many 49ers fans that in 2016 Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.  The Falcons famously blew a 28-3 lead in the fourth quarter, losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Coach Kyle Shanahan is developing a reputation for choking in big moments. Critics point out that in both of these Super Bowls, Shanahan would not run the ball even though he could’ve just ran the clock out to preserve his lead.

With this Super Bowl coach Andy Reid finally won a Super Bowl.  After a storied NFL coaching career, Reid has become one of the most highly respected coaches in the league.  He is also known as a strong mentor who helps to develop his assistant coaches into terrific head coaches–Matt Nagy and several other head coaches have worked for him.  Despite these accolades, a Super Bowl victory had eluded him until now. Patrick Mahomes overcame a challenging day and regained his MVP form for a fantastic finish, but it was truly an impressive team effort.  KC gave it their all and had to come back from ten point deficits all the playoff games. This Chiefs team may go down as one of the greatest after this dramatic season victory.

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