The Kansas City Chiefs offense has been electrifying for the last two seasons led by MVP Patrick Mahomes and the faster than grease lightning receiving core. With Andy Reid calling the shots the Chiefs rolled into the Super Bowl with two straight comeback wins. They had scored 86 points in the two games leading up to the big one. Here they would face their toughest test yet. The San Francisco 49ers came in off of a dominating NFCCG win over the Green Bay Packers. Even before that their defense was ranked number one in the NFL on the season. Leading up the game there was much talk of how the Chiefs could handle pass rush and the front seven of San Francisco. For every test there are answers and Andy Reid had the answer sheet during the Super Bowl, aided by his quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
For most the surprise of the night had to have been the Chiefs ability to run the ball. San Francisco’s strength is their front seven and pass rush. Andy Reid had ways to beat the 49ers on the ground, some of which were a nod to his offensive genius. On the first play of the game, the Chiefs run like they are going to run their go-to zone to the left. Damien Williams plants but then heads out to the right as Mahomes follows with the option. The pre-snap motion by Travis Kelce takes one backer out of the box while Mitch Schwartz gets inside the defensive end and up to the backer. Williams gets seven yards as Schwartz can’t quite get to the backer, but that is a tough block for a lineman to make in space. This would be more than just a one-play wonder for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs would go three and out their first drive of the game but they would come out ready on drive number two. To slow down the rush they motion Kelce and use run action. They leave eight in protection only running Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins in in-cut routes. SF is in zone coverage and Hill finds the hole. Mahomes throws into the window for an easy nine-yard completion. Early on San Francisco was content to let the Chiefs run as many underneath and moderate passing plays as they wanted.
Nice use of motion here gives the Chiefs a nice gain with Kelce. More run action freezes the linebackers and the motion drew the high safety down into the box. Hill and Watkins are covered with a safety over top of them, but Kelce is wide open on the little seam type route out of his motion. Creative play call to poke and prod the San Francisco defense.
This time the Chiefs go back to the zone run and like we saw last week vs Tennessee they use Hill as a motion man to throw off the linebackers timing but this time they moved him toward where Williams is running. Kelce gets enough on his cut of Nick Bosa and Hill’s motion draws the LBs more right allowing a big cutback lane to open up. Eric Fisher gets a tremendous block on the linebacker and Williams isn’t touched until the second level.
As we have seen all postseason Mahomes uses his legs to take advantage of the soft spot in defenses that is created by the threat the Chiefs receiving core poses. This time he takes a shot and fumbles the ball behind the line to gain bringing up fourth down. Despite this, he showed his heart and how bad he wanted to win the game. This reminded me of a time early in the first pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals back in August, when Mahomes could have tried to score but held up and slid. I was at the game and I recall the people sitting around me and my group all agreeing that when the games matter and a big one is on the line he would do what it took to get it done. Six months later we weren’t wrong.
The big fourth and one was crucial as San Francisco had an early three nothing lead. The Chiefs elected to stay aggressive and used a funky play named “Rose Bowl Right Parade”. The flashy motion flips set up the direct snap to Williams. The key to watch on this play is the execution of the offensive line. Eric Fisher is lined up on the right beside Mitch Schwartz and they have a dominating double team block up to the backer to make a massive hole for Williams to run through. The front side creates a wall, and Williams is inches away from having six. First down and goal from the one, the aggressiveness would pay off.
On the goal line the Chiefs again use a variation of their counter zone option. Anthony Sherman and Blake Bell make the play possible with great down blocks, while the zone counter step by Williams freezes the play side. As Mahomes reverses he has a one on one with the backer, he gives a little fake pitch and a head nod to the outside but then takes it in himself. One of the oldest plays in football found it’s way into one of the most modern offenses in the NFL’s Super Bowl playbook. Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy pulled out all the stops for this one.
The Chiefs famous drag and go found it’s way into the big game. Hill and Robinson both have Go routes and Williams has a flat pattern. Watkins has the drag and go. While Hill and Robinson’s routes pull defenders from the middle, the zone coverage defenders look at Watkins drag but then see Williams break to the flat. Watkins makes his break into the go and Mahomes is pressured but puts the ball up just enough and in enough space to let Watkins get the ball between the high and shallow defenders.
The Chiefs again found themselves in a fourth and one, and again they go to the option. This time it’s a more traditional look. Schwartz chips down to help LDT reach his man and then works up to get a block on Fred Warner. SF was in a one backer box due to how many people KC had on the opposite side. Nick Bosa is the read man but he has no shot. Mahomes makes Bosa choose between him and Williams, as Bosa closes in he gets a nice shot on Mahomes but Williams comes free for the pitch and it’s a first down for the Chiefs. We haven’t seen this type of play in Kansas City since Alex Smith was the QB but the offensive brain trust must have seen something they liked, and it was a great way to defeat the tough front seven of San Francisco.
Chiefs used a lot of run actions but here we get a true RPO play, with an extra surprise at the end of it. Mahomes pulls the ball and Kelce appears to be open in the flat, the LB turns all of his attention on Kelce, which allows Blake Bell to sneak free. Mahomes sees this and gets him the ball. KC was hitting on a lot of small patterns and using their spread to get guys open in space.
The first half would end in a tie at ten, a score not many people expected. The Chiefs were connecting on a few plays but it was more of a shallow assault. The 49ers were content to let the Chiefs use their short game, but the Chiefs were just trying to find the one link to take their shots at.
Patrick Mahome’s mobility was on display all game. San Francisco covers all the routes up and as pressure closes down on him he scrambles to his right. He keeps going and forces Tart to make a decision between going to get him and dropping back into coverage. Mahomes had earned their respect with his legs so as he steps up Mahomes fires it to Watkins who had broken open when he saw Mahomes start to scramble.
The endzone look shows this play even better from Mahomes vantage point. He never takes his eyes away from the field always scanning and when Tart makes his move he fires it to Watkins.
The Chief’s commitment to the run was on full display in the second half. This run was only for about five yards but it was a great job by the big boys upfront. Austin Reiter gets off his double team and makes a solid block on the LB. Fisher shifts back in once his assigned LB leaves the box, he gets just a piece of Bosa and Williams is tackled by a secondary player. When the secondary is the first people to the RB that’s a good sign. A sign of things to come.
Third and short KC goes to another unique formation for a few yards. Here it’s a full house formation with Kelce taking the snap. It’s a triple option, he shows the ball to Williams while Buckner crashes hard to take it away, Kelce pulls the ball and holds onto it as Warner tackles him, getting enough for the first. After re-watching this play I was unsure if Kelce had the option to pitch the ball to Hill, because if he did it might have been six. This will be a play to keep an eye on next season.
The Chiefs would find themselves down ten in the fourth quarter but as Andy Reid put it, “Keep Firing”. Again Mahomes would find Hill on an easy completion as SF was fine with allowing the underneath yards. It was at this point in the game Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy, and Patrick Mahomes knew they would need to hit on a deep shot to open up the offense. Unfortunately, a second interception from Mahomes would leave the Chiefs needing a huge play.
This play changed the game and perhaps the course of NFL history. 2-3 Jet Wasp. The deep shot of all deep shots but the Chiefs might have found their play to hit on. San Francisco had a deep safety that was not going to let Hill get past him. The underneath coverage was there to stop Kelce and Watkins. As Hill runs he gets the safety caught running deep when he breaks into a deep flat type route.
As seen in the endzone view Mahomes was under heavy pressure and could not step into the pass much but he sees the space Hill had around him. He lets the ball fly and Hill was so open deep he played it almost like a punt, but caught it and held on for dear life. The Chiefs got their stingers out and it was time to fight back. Momentum had shifted, the MVP had his confidence back, and all of a sudden the 49ers were the ones looking for answers.
Chiefs once again look to sell the counter zone option look but as Mahomes reverses out, Kelce gets off the line of scrimmage and is wide open as Mahomes puts it on him for six. San Francisco had no choice but to play run that close on the goal line and the Chiefs made them pay big time. Something else to watch is Fisher at the top of the screen, as he pancakes Bosa. Fisher had struggled against Bosa at times this game but there was no quit. This could be said for the entire team.
As the Chiefs got the ball back down three, Mahomes would connect with Watkins on another deep shot, this time taking advantage of Richard Sherman.
The wide view shows SF had dropped one safety deep and pulled another one close to the line as they had on a CB blitz. Watkins gets an excellent release and pops open. Mahomes has to get it out quickly. The endzone shot shows how fast Mahomes processes what he sees and delivers a beautiful ball. A beautiful pass on the game’s biggest stage in a time when his team needed him the most.
The go-ahead was another familiar route but the cross-action from Hill and Williams in the backfield holds the LB in place long enough for Williams to get open in the flat. Kelce took two with him and Williams extends the ball into the endzone for the go-ahead score. Another comeback, but the Chiefs weren’t done yet.
To win the Chiefs would need one first down once they got the ball back up four. They would get much more. Damien Williams would go down in the history books for his touchdown run but all credit to Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy for the great play design. 22 personnel, in a power I formation with two tight ends to the right. They would then run a lead Iso with Sherman kicking out the first play side backer, logging him inside while Williams would break one tackle with a stiff arm and be off to the races.
Sherman has been on the team since 2013, Andy Reid’s first year in Kansas City. He has seen the overhaul, regime change, and culture change. He has taken a lesser role as Mahomes has flourished as a passer and has been an ace on special teams. It is only fitting that Reid and Bieniemy who have been apart of coaching one of the most electric passing attacks of all time would give Sherman a chance to seal the trophy they desired so much. Bieniemy, who has been on the staff since 2013, as well trusted his undrafted free agent running back a chance to go down in history. Eric Fisher, Reid’s first draft pick, got just enough of Bosa to let the Chiefs take the lead for good. The game was dominated by the name brand stars of the Chiefs and the comeback was led by those stars. Inn the end, however, it was a FB’s phenomenal block and a running back with a huge chip on his shoulder that firmly planted their head coach into the Hall of Fame and gave the Chiefs their first Super Bowl in 50 years. Let the good times roll.