Ok, I was wrong.
Last week I picked the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. I felt that on paper the two teams were very even, and that this year, it would be karma that made the difference. I felt San Francisco had the karma edge. Apparently, Patrick Mahomes is a karma buster!
It was clearly a very entertaining Super Bowl. The Chiefs winning it 25-22 in overtime will go down in history as one of the most compelling. And, as in all the big games of the past that are this close, there are hero’s and goats assigned by the pundits because that’s what pundits think they need to do. On many occasions I disagree with the pundits, because that’s what I like to do. In my mind, there is nothing more fun than disagreeing with all the so-called experts out there.
So here you go, a quick down and dirty on what I took away from this one.
First of all…the key play was the botched punt by the 49ers return team. It was a fluke play. Just like the 49ers vs Lions game when a pass bounced off a Lions defender and the 49ers caught it on the bounce and scored. The 49ers got the big break in that one, but this time, the 49ers got hurt by the fluke play. The play was the punt that inadvertently hit a 49ers player on the foot, and KC recovered. The very next play the Chiefs scored and took their first lead. That was THE turning point in the game in my mind.
The missed extra point by San Francisco was big, but it wasn’t the defining mistake. No matter what anyone tries to tell you. That blocked extra point didn’t make the difference.
I also don’t want to hear that the 49ers should have gone on defense to start overtime. They took the ball, moved to the KC red zone and scored on that drive. The overtimes are different in the Super Bowl, so that was OK in my book. They scored and took a lead, isn’t that the object of the exercise? So, let’s not go down that road.
For me…here is the bottom line. If you are looking to lay blame, which in this game is hard to do. Look to the 49ers defense. In my opinion, their defense played a great game, but, in this business, somebody gets holding the bag whether it’s fair or not. In this game, the 49ers defense had the lead twice with a chance to win, and didn’t get it done.
First in regulation, the 49ers had a three point lead with under 2 minutes to play and the Chiefs had 75 yards to go. The Chiefs moved down the field, almost scored a TD to end it, but settled for the field goal to tie and send it to overtime. That’s the first occasion the SF defense had a chance to end it, and didn’t.
Second, in overtime, the 49ers had just scored a field goal to take another three point lead. The Chiefs had 75 yards to go. The 49ers defense gave up a fourth down conversion, and the winning touchdown and the Chiefs won the game. So, with the game in their back pocket TWICE, San Francisco needed a stop, and couldn’t get it.
Instead of laying blame, I prefer to marvel at the play of Patrick Mahomes. You know, through three quarters, he was OK. He wasn’t brilliant. He was really good, but, he didn’t light the world on fire. Then came the final 15 minutes. Mahomes, put on his cape, and Superman emerged. With his legs. With his arm. With his tenacity. With a great coach pulling the strings, and Mahomes executing to perfection, it was magic. I prefer to echo former Steelers coach Bill Cowher on the post game show when he said, San Francisco didn’t lose the game, Patrick Mahomes won it.
There will be a lot of analysis. There will be a lot of criticism. There will be more “what-ifs” than you can imagine. But, the difference between winning and losing in the NFL is really very simple sometimes. I’ve heard it said hundreds of time, and so have you…”they made more plays than we did!” In the last 15 minutes of Super Bowl LVIII, Patrick Mahomes made more plays than the other guys. At the key moments, he made plays. Simple as that. No karma necessary.