Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio
1. Salt? Meet wound: In the moments before the opening kickoff, nearly every Super Bowl can feel like a toss-up. Seven of the past 10, for instance, had a betting spread of three points or fewer. Even when a team is a huge favorite (the Patriots were favored by 12 in 2007 and lost 17-14 to New York) there are moments of uncertainty before the kickoff. The point being, a team should never feel badly about losing a Super Bowl. Except in cases such as this. When the game is down to its final seven minutes, and you have a 10-point lead, the odds dramatically shift in your favor. With 7:13 remaining, an index used by ESPN to calculate percentages put San Francisco’s chance of winning the Super Bowl at 95.4 percent. And yet the 49ers lost.
2. One play that changed everything: So what happened? At that zenith in odds, Kansas City had third and 15 from its own 35. The 49ers might as well have had a jeweler on the sideline taking ring measurements. Except that’s when Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 44-yard reception. Replays showed safety Jimmie Ward biting on an inside fake, which left Hill wide open. Chiefs quarterback coach Mike Kafka told NBC’s Peter King that they ran the same play earlier in the game except Hill ran toward the middle of the field. So when they ran it in the fourth quarter, Ward fell for Hill’s inside fake.
3. Thank you, sir: A tweet from the president congratulated the Chiefs for representing “the Great State of Kansas.’’ Sure was nice of Mr. Trudeau.
4. Show him the money: It’s a simplistic way of looking at it, but the difference in the game was the two quarterbacks. Jimmy Garoppolo was fairly efficient through three quarters, but was mostly throwing underneath. Mahomes was not nearly as impressive as we’re used to seeing but came through with some downfield passes when necessary. If you want to sum it up in two plays, Mahomes hits Hill for the 44-yard gain when the Chiefs were trailing, and Garoppolo badly overthrows Emmanuel Sanders on a play that could have regained the lead in the final two minutes.
5. Run for your life: The 49ers handed the ball off to running backs more than any team in the NFL this season. Yet, curiously, their percentage of running plays decreased when they got the lead on Sunday. In the game’s first 35 minutes, the 49ers called 14 runs and 16 passes. Once they took the lead in the second half, they called five running plays and nine passes in their next three drives. You could defend a fair number of those play calls, but the bottom line is Mahomes was getting the ball back quickly while trailing.
A list of five
Five ways the Chiefs are better than the Bucs
5. Utilizing this new position called tight end.
4. Bucs threw five interceptions in Week 6. Chiefs had five interceptions in 2019.
3. Decided biscuits weren’t worth the risk.
2. Hardly ever auction off their home games to London.
1. Don’t have a standing reservation in Maui every January.
Five potential legacies from Super Bowl 54
1. Andy Reid: His place in the Hall of Fame is now secure. Of retired coaches with more than 175 regular-season victories, the only ones not in the Hall of Fame are the three (Marty Schottenheimer, Dan Reeves, Chuck Knox) who never won an NFL title. That’s no longer an issue for Reid.
2. Richard Sherman: He’s one of the top defensive backs of his era, but the sight of Sherman getting beaten badly by Sammy Watkins on a 38-yard reception to set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter will be hard to forget.
3. Kyle Shanahan: He’s 40. He’s got plenty of time, and plenty of smarts, so this isn’t the last you’ll hear of Shanahan. But, for now, he has to live with the stigma of blowing big fourth-quarter leads as offensive coordinator in Atlanta (against New England) and now as a head coach in San Francisco. Shanahan’s teams have been outscored 46-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime in two Super Bowl appearances.
4. John Lynch: Not his fault, but the sight of the San Francisco general manager impotently calling for a time-out from the press box has to sting. The 49ers had 59 seconds and three timeouts when they got the ball back late in the second quarter of a 10-10 game. Instead of going for broke, Shanahan played it conservative, apparently to Lynch’s chagrin. Giving away a possession against a high-powered offense is tough to defend.
5. Patrick Mahomes: Sacked four times, threw two interceptions, fumbled once and was still the biggest difference-maker on the field. Between Reid and Mahomes, the Chiefs have a chance to be contenders for a very long time.
Five young QBs with Super Bowl rings
Mahomes is not the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but you could argue he was the most impressive of the kiddie corps.
1. Ben Roethilsberger, 23 years, 340 days: The Steelers did not beat the Seahawks 21-10 because of Big Ben. His passer rating of 22.6 was the worst of any winning quarterback in Super Bowl history.
2. Patrick Mahomes, 24 years, 138 days: The two interceptions were atypical, but Mahomes is one of only two quarterbacks to come from behind by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. He’s also the youngest Super Bowl MVP in history.
3. Tom Brady, 24 years, 184 days: The first of Brady’s six Super Bowl titles, he took New England on a 53-yard drive in the final minutes to set up Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal to beat St. Louis 20-17. On the other hand, the Patriots took a 17-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
4. Russell Wilson, 25 years, 65 days: Statistically, Wilson had the best Super Bowl among quarterbacks under 26. He was 18-of-25 for 206 yards, but the game was a laugher. Seattle beat Denver 43-8.
5. Joe Namath, 25 years, 226 days: A solid passing day for Namath (17-of-28 for 206 yards) but the game is most notable for upsetting the supposedly unbeatable Colts in Super Bowl III.
Final five words
Re-starting the clock on Jameis.