Mahomes builds legacy as Reid gets title, officials in spotlight again in Super Bowl LIV
Super Bowl LIV was not one of the greatest ever but was a good, compelling and strange game.
First, Miami hosted its 11th Super Bowl, the most of any city in the history of the big game. New Orleans will get even by hosting its 11th Super Bowl in 2024.
Hard Rock Stadium is a very nice facility, completely redone since the New Orleans Saints won in the same facility in 2010.
The game, itself, starts later every year. This time, it started at 5:41 p.m.
When the Saints beat the Colts in Miami, one of the legendary bands in the history of rock music performed at halftime in The Who.
Yesterday, you got bumping, grinding, hands rubbing bodies and pole dancing as a halftime show.
While it may not have been for your children, there were actually children participating as part of the show.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
It is, after all, a football game, the biggest in the world.
We live in an age where technology allows us to see what happens in the biggest NFL games after the fact.
We live in an age where replay has the ability to overturn calls.
We live in an age where mistakes made by officials are clear for everyone to see.
Mistakes have always been made by officials in the NFL. We are simply seeing the results now from the technology available.
Officiating is a very tough, thankless job and always will be.
Of course, New Orleans Saints fans were derisively mocking the fact that it was a crew led by Bill Vinovich that got to call Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
It was the second Super Bowl for Vinovich in his 14-year career as an NFL official.
Whether he is a good official or not, he will always live with his crew completely blowing the NOLA No-Call and his name will always live in infamy with Saints fans.
Needless to say, Vinovich and his crew had some interesting calls or no-calls Sunday in Miami.
First, there was the offensive pass interference call against George Kittle late in the first half which almost certainly would have led to points for San Francisco.
The pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Kittle covered 42 yards to the 13-yard line with six seconds left in the half.
Instead, a flag came out and offensive pass interference was called against Kittle.
By rule, Kittle did extend his arm and push Daniel Sorensen but given the gravity of the game and situation, do you make that call?
When you compare it to the more obvious push Kyle Rudolph gave PJ Williams on the winning touchdown for Minnesota in overtime against the New Orleans Saints, it certainly bears scrutiny.
With 9:47 to play in the game, the 49ers led 20-10 and played a third-and-14 from their own 34-yard line. Chiefs defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon clearly jumped into the neutral zone before the ball was snapped. There was no flag. It was beyond obvious.
On the same play, Garopppolo was pushed hard out of bounds, to the ground, by Kansas City defensive back Rashad Fenton.
In a league that has gone overboard with rules to protect its quarterbacks and in which flags come out for virtually breathing on quarterbacks, it was surprising, if not shocking, that no personal foul penalty was called. That would have given the Niners a first down, sustaining the drive, able to milk the clock more with a 10-point lead.
On the next San Francisco possession, Garoppolo was hit by Kansas City linebacker Ben Niemann. It appeared to be helmet-to-helmet, an automatic 15-yard penalty. No penalty was called. Garoppolo was on the ground holding his head. You immediately feared a concussion.
Finally, with 2:44 left in the game, Patrick Mahomes hit Damien Williams on a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Chiefs a 24-20 lead. The play was ruled a touchdown on the field.
It was upheld by replay, even though it appeared that Williams may have had a foot out of bounds just prior to the ball breaking the plane of the goal line. It was so close that there was no way to overturn it so replay worked but it was the call on the field that mattered and once again, it went in favor of Kansas City.
San Francisco had a 20-10 lead.
Tarvarius Moore picked off Mahomes, the second interception thrown by the Kansas City quarterback, with 11:57 to play. The 49ers were in total control.
The 49ers then kept the ball for five plays before punting.
Then, San Francisco had the Kansas City offense right where it wanted them, playing third-and-15 from the Chiefs’ 35-yard line.
Somehow, Tyreek Hill got wide, wide open, Mahomes, under pressure, flung it as far as he could and Hill, who had to wait on it almost like a fair catch, caught it for a 44-yard gain and the game changed.
Kansas City finished the drive as Mahomes hit Travis Kelce on a 1-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-17 with 6:13 to play in the game.
The Niners got the ball back with 6:06 left, up by three points. Raheem Mostert rushed for five yards on first down. Then, inexplicably, Shanahan called two pass plays. Neither worked and San Francisco stopped the clock twice and had to punt the ball.
Kansas City, predictably, took the ball and took the game, driving 65 yards in seven plays with Mahomes hitting Williams for what proved to be the game-winner with 2:44 to play in the game.
San Francisco still had a shot to win it. Playing a third-and-10 from the Kansas City 49-yard line, Emmanuel Sanders got open deep but Garoppolo overthrew him badly. Then, on fourth down, Garoppolo held the ball too long and was sacked by Frank Clark to give the Chiefs the ball back.
San Francisco still had three timeouts left as Kansas City got the ball back with 1:25 to play but it did not matter. Two plays later, Williams raced 38 yards for a score to finish it off.
Officials tend to swallow whistles in championship games. San Francisco was penalized five times for 46 yards while Kansas City was penalized four times for 24 yards.
The Chiefs beat the 49ers at their own game, owning time of possession 33:13 to 26:47. The Chiefs had 71 offensive snaps while the 49ers had just 53 and that included only 22 runs.
Keep in mind that the 49ers threw the ball just eight time in a 37-20 victory over Green Bay in the NFC championship game.
Keep in mind that the Niners averaged 6.4 yards per carry on those 22 rushes Sunday.
Up by 10 points in the fourth quarter, you must run the ball if you are the 49ers.
Up by three points later in the fourth quarter, you must run the ball if you are the 49ers.
In the fourth quarter, Garoppolo was just 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception.
For the first three quarters, Garoppolo was 17-of-20 for 179 yards and a touchdown with an interception and lost the big play on his perfect throw to Kittle.
For three quarters, Garoppolo was superb, easily the best quarterback on the field.
For three quarters, Mahomes was uneven, shaky, shaken, lousy, a shadow of the league’s most dynamic, exciting player.
Near the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Mahomes was just 18-of-29 for 172 yards, (5.9 avg. per completion) with two interceptions.
The rest of the way, Mahomes was 8-of-13 for 114 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a total QBR of 61.6 and a final rating of 78.1.
In the fourth quarter, Mahomes passed for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Mahomes is the second youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl at 24. Ben Roethlisberger was 23 when he won a Super Bowl with the Steelers in the 2005 season.
This was a weird game.
San Francisco clearly won the battle up front and lost the game.
Then, there is Kyle Shanahan, he is a very good coach with a very good future but he will have to live with and live down a pair of colossal collapses in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls.
As the offensive coordinator of the Falcons, Shanahan coordinated an offense which blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017 to the New England Patriots.
New England won 34-28 in overtime.
Atlanta looked to be the better team well into the fourth quarter but failed when it mattered most.
On Sunday in Miami, San Francisco looked to be the better team well into the fourth quarter but failed when it mattered most.
In two Super Bowls, Shanahan’s teams were outscored 40-0 in the fourth quarter and 46-0 counting overtime.
Though it is clearly not all on him, it is a legacy he cannot avoid or ignore.
Shanahan was perplexing Sunday.
Near the end of the first half, he wasted up to 40 seconds by not calling timeout when his team got a stop and was going to get the ball back in a 10-10 game.
Then, when he got the ball back, he opted to run the ball and run the clock.
Clearly, he did not trust Garoppolo, stating afterwards that he was concerned about giving the ball back to Kansas City before the half ended since the Chiefs had three timeouts remaining.
It was especially glaring when the Fox television camera found Niners General Manager John Lynch in a suite, frantically signaling to call timeout, to no avail.
Shanahan was coaching not to lose at the end of the first half and he coached to lose late in the game, when he should have been running the football with the lead.
San Francisco, according to metrics, had a better than 96 percent chance to win the game when up 20-10 in the fourth quarter.
Then, Shanahan, with the lead, called more pass plays than run plays in the fourth quarter, reversing the trend and thought process at the end of the first half.
While Shanahan is raked over the coals today and for days to come, Andy Reid will be celebrated today and for days to come.
What is not to like about a guy whose biggest desire after winning the big game is to eat a big cheeseburger?
In his 21st year as a head coach, Reid has his first Super Bowl victory, though he was part of a Super Bowl championship as an assistant coach with Green Bay in the 1996 season.
Reid is a likeable, affable, every day guy whom everyone seems to like, the kind of guy you pull for.
By all accounts, he is a players coach, allowing individuals to be individuals while working together for a common goal.
Of course, he has Mahomes, the transcendent player in the NFL today.
While everyone was taking issue with me, even castigating my pick of the Chiefs to win by four points two weeks ago, I never wavered, sticking to my opinion which was totally based on Mahomes.
For three quarters, I looked dumb as Mahomes resembled more of a bum than the best in the game. Then, in the final quarter, the critics were mum as Mahomes left them numb.
As I have stated many times, to win a Super Bowl, you have to be exceptional and you have to be lucky.
The Chiefs were exceptional when it mattered most and they were fortunate, getting the benefit of some calls or non-calls.
As we know, the Saints have been exceptional for three years now but have not been lucky.
As we have stated many times, the moral to the story is to take the game out of the officials’ hands, when possible. Win the game in convincing fashion so that no call can determine the outcome. Of course, that is easier said than done.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…