Super Bowl LIV – Instant Reaction & Key Plays of the Game

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Well, looks like the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV!  But how did they get there?  Here’s our instant reaction breakdown and key plays of the game.

Breakdown of Key Plays

  • The Chiefs stopping the 49ers on their first drive on a 3rd and 5 and limiting them to a Field Goal after the 49ers defense made the Chiefs go 3 and out on the first possession helped keep the 49ers ground game in check by limiting points.  Stalling on the 25 yard line against the Chiefs derailed a solid first drive and ended up being costly.

  • The Chiefs second drive (15 plays for 75 yards and just about 7 and half minutes) was methodical, and going for it on 4th and 1 at the end of the 1st quarter ultimately led to a Mahomes 1 yard touchdown run and their first lead of the game.  According to ESPN analytics, just going for it on 4th and 1 increase the Chiefs win probability by 3.3% over kicking a field goal.  Converting 4th down twice was key for the Chiefs.
  • Jimmy G’s interception trying to avoid a sack early in the 2nd quarter set up the Chiefs with great field position.  After a big completion to Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs get into the redzone, but the 49ers defense stops them on 3rd and 7 and force a field goal, limiting the momentum shift.  However, that field goal definitely impacted the dynamic at the end of the game.

  • The 49ers defense chasing Mecole Hardman out of bounds for a 6 yard loss forcing 3rd and 14 with 1:53 left in the first half, led to a punt and the 49ers running out the clock on the rest of the 1st half with the 49ers set to receive the second half kickoff.  An honorable mention goes to the George Kittle offensive pass interference that wiped out a huge play that should have led to a 49ers field goal and could have changed the dynamic of the game.
    • You have to wonder about the way the 49ers used their timeouts at the end of the 1st half.  They decided not to call a timeout with about a minute and 30 seconds left after the Chiefs went 3 and out, and had about a minute with the ball in which they had two run plays that milked almost all the time off the clock before the Chiefs called a timeout.  Instead of taking a knee after the OPI, having 20 to 30 seconds left could have been the difference in getting the lead into the half.  Seems pretty conservative and reminded me of how the Falcons went conservative against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, and we all saw how that ended.
  • Out of the 2nd half kickoff, the 49ers consume 5:31 and went 60 yards on 9 plays to get a 42 yard field goal.  But Jimmy G not seeing a wide open Kittle on 3rd and 5 that could have kept the drive alive and could also be flagged as a key miss in the game.
  • Nick Bosa’s strip sack on 2nd down and the ensuing interception on 3rd down with 5:23 left in the 3rd quarter was a momentum shift as it was Mahomes’ 1st interception in 164 attempts and led to a Mostert 1 yard TD dive making it a 2 score game.

  • Mahomes diving for 1st down run 1:14 left in 3rd quarter kept a drive a alive all the way down to the San Francisco 23 yard line and looked to be a huge momentum changer until a Tyreek Hill tip led to a 49ers interception with 11:57 left.  Fortunately for the Chiefs, all the 49ers did was manage to burn 3 minutes and punt it back.

  • Mahomes’ 44 yard pass to Hill on 3rd and 15 after a previous Hill completion was overturned with 6:35 left was a momentum changer.  Before that completion, the 49ers had a 95.4% probability of winning the game according to ESPN.  It ultimately kept the Chiefs in the game as it led to a 1 yard TD strike to Travis Kelce and brought the game to one possession.

  • Right after the Kelce TD, the Chiefs defense forced Jimmy G and the 49ers to go 3 and out with 5:18 left, which was excellent timing for forcing the first 49ers 3 and out of the game.  That allowed Mahomes to go 5 for 5 for 60 yards and touchdown to Damien Williams reclaiming the Chiefs’ lead.

  • The Jimmy G overthrow of an open Emmanuel Sanders on 3rd and 10 in the second to last 49ers drive was an absolute game killer.  The next play was a sack which led to a game sealing Williams touchdown run.


  • Patrick Mahomes proved that he was ready for primetime.  He’s now the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl and the MVP.  He had a really slow start and once again picked it up with 2 TDs in the span of 4 minutes in the 4th quarter to permanently take the lead.  Andy Reid really earned this one with a team putting on clutch performances for come-from-behind wins in every postseason game.
  • The 49ers came up just a little short, and some of the conservative play at the end of the 1st half may have come back to burn them.  Jimmy G will be fine as a franchise QB, but he obviously has some work to do missing some key plays at the end of the 1st half, beginning of the 3rd quarter and at the end of the game, any one of which could have changed the outcome of the game.  The 49ers defense usually gets stronger as the game goes on lost contain and got burned multiple times by Mahomes scrambling, buying time and picking up 1st downs.
  • I have no doubt that both teams will be back in the mix next year.  Definitely one of the more enjoyable Super Bowls in recent history.

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