Keys to Victory

The Chiefs find themselves in rarified air.  They have won back-to-back Super Bowls.  Better still, they have won three of the last four Super Bowls.  How did they do it?  Grit, determination, great defense and Patrick Mahomes.

The Chief’s lodestar of the year was Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.  As the Chief’s offense sputtered along the regular season, Spag’s defense was holding down the fort.  Only four teams scored more than 21 points on the Chiefs all year long, and they defeated two of the four, in the playoffs.  The 49ers and Bill’s managed more than 21 points but couldn’t seal the deal in the end.  Meanwhile, the offense failed to score 21 points in the six regular season games they lost.  Had they done so they would have tied twice and lost only two regular season games.

The Chiefs regular season performance is instructive.  Do well enough to get into the dance, then dance your ass off to the Super Bowl.  That is exactly what they did.  They went on the road and defeated the Bills, and Baltimore while withstanding the 49ers onslaught in the Super Bowl.  It was an interesting season for them.

The Keys to Victory

The first Chiefs key to victory occurred during the 49ers first drive.  Characteristically, the 49ers were on the move during their first drive.  They usually score their first drive of the game and the Super Bowl was shaping up to be no different.  Five plays into the drive and a Chief punched the ball out of Christian McCaffrey’s hands on the Chiefs 29-yard line.  Had the Niners scored, they could have possibly ended the half at 17 – 3.  Key to victory number one was keep the 49ers from scoring their first drive of the game.  Check.

The next key to victory was cover on critical downs.  The 49es shot themselves in the foot a couple of drives committing holding penalties putting themselves behind the chains and making it difficult if not impossible to convert a third down.  The Chiefs forced five punts, three in the second half.

The next key to victory was overcoming mistakes.  Isiah Pacheco lost a fumble.  The defense did not give up a score.  Patrick Mahomes threw an interception in the second half giving the 49ers excellent field position.  Once again, the defense didn’t give up a score.  The fact that the Niners forced two turnovers and failed to score on either is a major contributor to the Chief’s victory.

San Francisco 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown (27) intercepts the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

The Chiefs did a great job of exploiting the 49ers’s in game weaknesses as they developed.  In the first half, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw locked Travis Kelce down.  Then Greenlaw went down with a phantom achilles injury and Kelce started to light things up in the second half, because the Niners lost a critical piece to their middle of the field coverage.

When right guard Jon Feliciano went down in the third quarter, the Chiefs started exploiting the right guard back up by pressuring Brock Purdy from that gap.  It ended up being the 49ers undoing during their overtime drive, as Chris Jones burst thru the right side of the line and forced Purdy to throw early.  If he had just one more second, he could have hit Jauan Jennings for a touchdown.

The Three Most Important Keys to Victory

Special Teams play was an important key to victory in this game.  Harrison Butker making a 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half was critical for the Chiefs as they went into the locker-room at half time.  Blocking the extra point after the 49er’s touchdown drive in the fourth quarter presented an interesting opportunity.  It’s possible the Chiefs could have drove to win the game in the end, yet the Niners defense was holding strong and forced a tying field goal to force overtime.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (7) kick a field goal as punter Tommy Townsend (5) holds during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Perhaps the biggest special team play occurred when the ball hit a 49ers leg on a punt causing a muff and giving the Chiefs the ball well inside the redzone.  One play and one touchdown throw later the Chiefs were up over the 49ers.  That play is likely the most critical play to the Chiefs victory in the whole game.

The last key to victory was Patrick Mahomes had to be special.  He was able to do so in part, because Dre Greenlaw was not patrolling the middle of the field with Fred Warner.  Mahomes took off and ran on critical third downs to convert to first downs and keep the drive going.  The Niners did a decent job of pressuring him all game.  Yet, when the game was on the line, Patrick Mahomes rose to the occasion and willed his team to victory.  He made the throws and runs he needed to at end of regulation and overtime.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles against the San Francisco 49ers during overtime in the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

There are some cool notables about this game.  First Jauan Jennings is the second football player in history to both catch and throw a touchdown pass in the same Super Bowl.  Nick Foles was the first.  Next, we saw the record for the longest field goal in Super Bowl history broken twice.  First Jake Moody kicked a 55 yarder and then Butker kicked his 57 yarder.

The rest is history.  Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, and a few others on the roster have three rings now.  They say they are on the hunt for more.  They appear to have cemented themselves as the dynasty of the decade, but we still have six years to go.



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