MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Instant analysis from the Chiefs’ 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV:
■ In a Super Bowl rarity, the high-flying offense actually defeated the dominant defense. Usually it’s the Patriots shutting down the Rams, or the Seahawks stomping the Broncos, or the Giants stifling the Bills.
But Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were just too dynamic to shut down for a full four quarters. They came back from 24-0 down to beat the Texans in the Divisional Round, came back from 17-7 to take down the Titans in the AFC Championship Game, then erased a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead in Super Bowl LIV against the 49ers’ No. 2-ranked defense.
We saw this out of the Chiefs last year, too. The Patriots shut them out in the first half of the AFC Championship Game, but the Chiefs came roaring back with 31 points in the second half. It took them a little bit later to get going in Sunday’s Super Bowl, as the Chiefs had just 206 yards and 10 points through three quarters. But Mahomes and Andy Reid finally clicked in the fourth, gaining 206 yards and scoring 21 points.
The Chiefs just have too much firepower to be stopped for a full 60 minutes. And they are worthy Super Bowl champions.
■ Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers are really going to kick themselves for giving up this game. It wasn’t a total choke job, like the 28-3 lead the Falcons squandered in a 34-28 overtime loss against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5, 2017, but the Niners’ offense came up small in the crucial moments Sunday.
Leading, 20-17, with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Niners badly needed to string together some first downs and burn the clock, but instead went three-and-out and gave the ball right back to the Chiefs.
Then down, 24-20, late in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo missed an open Emmanuel Sanders by two steps, missing on a sure-fire touchdown on third and 10.
The Niners’ had a great run-based offense all year, but I’m not sure they were built to play from behind. And they seemed to panic in the fourth quarter.
■ Garoppolo was on fire for three quarters, then completely fell apart in the fourth. Through three quarters, he was 17-of-20 passing for 183 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. In the fourth, he went 3 of 11 for 36 yards and an interception, as the Niners didn’t score points on any of their four drives.
Overall Garoppolo finished 20 of 31 for 219 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, and a 69.2 passer rating. He’s a top-flight quarterback who has a lot of big things ahead in his career, but that was not an impressive closing performance by Garoppolo.
■ The Chiefs’ defense also deserves a ton of credit for finally making the plays in the fourth quarter. The Niners’ did rip off some impressive runs, rushing for 141 yards on 6.4 yards per carry, but the Chiefs didn’t really break in the second half, allowing 10 points on six possessions.
■ Mahomes really wasn’t himself for much of the game, and the 49ers’ front four deserves a lot of credit. Mahomes was running for his life, as he had a Niners’ defensive lineman right in his face on several throws. It led to Mahomes throwing two interceptions, marking the first time since Week 12 of last year he threw more than one in a game, a span of 24 games. Mahomes threw the ball to the wrong spot on his first interception on a pass to Tyreek Hill, and threw the ball way behind Hill on a slant pass that was tipped and led to his second interception.
Mahomes was looking like he would be a major goat, until he authored a magical fourth quarter.
■ The Niners probably won’t be too happy with the officiating in this one.
The game-winning touchdown catch for Damien Williams was certainly questionable — Williams appeared to step out of bounds before reaching the goal line, but the officials upheld the touchdown. There was also a very questionable offensive pass interference call against George Kittle at the end of the first half that likely cost the Niners at least 3 points, maybe 6.
The officiating certainly wasn’t atrocious in this one, not by the NFL’s standards. But 49ers fans will certainly wonder if the outcome would have been different had the Kittle call not been made.
■ Mahomes is just 24 years old, has only started two NFL seasons, and already has an MVP and a Super Bowl victory under his belt. As long as he has Reid calling the plays, Mahomes and the Chiefs are going to be among the AFC’s best teams for a long time. The Patriots certainly have their work cut out for them to catch up with the Chiefs — not only next year, when Tom Brady could be back, but also in the long run, as they need to find a quarterback who can keep up with Mahomes for the next decade.
■ As for Reid, he no longer holds the title of “Coach with the most wins without winning a Super Bowl.” Reid is seventh all time with 207 regular season wins. Reid, a head coach since 1999 with the Eagles and Chiefs, gets a much-deserved championship ring. And this victory likely bolsters his Hall of Fame résumé.