The 5 Biggest Storylines to Come Out of Super Bowl LIV
Jimmy Garropolo is no Tom Brady — but Patrick Mahomes might be
With the Kansas City Chiefs scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on Sunday to hand the San Francisco 49ers a 31-20 loss in Super Bowl LIV, the NFL season is officially over and open for review. While we can’t get to everything — like a notable celebrity couple sitting through the national anthem and President Trump not knowing where Kansas City is — here are five of the top storylines to emerge from the season’s final game, and whether we’re buying or selling on ’em.
Buy: Patrick Mahomes is the new face of the NFL
Of the last 20 Super Bowls, all but four have featured Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger. Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and 49ers was one of the four — but it likely featured a QB who be in a few of the next 20 Super Bowls.
Though it wasn’t his best game, Patrick Mahomes made enough plays down the stretch to help his team win, including a huge third-down conversion to Tyreek Hill in the middle of the fourth quarter that kept a Kansas City drive alive on 3rd and 15.
Mahomes, who threw two touchdowns and ran for another in Kansas City’s victory, was able to overcome a pair of interceptions as well as four sacks while leading the Chiefs to their comeback win.
The way Mahomes handled his mistakes was impressive, even more so when you consider the 24-year-old was playing in just his fifth playoff game.
Already a superstar before winning Super Bowl MVP, Mahomes is, without question, the new face of the NFL. Exciting, personable and scandal-free outside of an unhealthy attraction to ketchup, the NFL couldn’t have a better player to lead the league into the next decade and beyond.
And especially given the explosive team he has around him, there’s no reason to think Mahomes won’t be able to do it. He’s a winner.
Sell: Jimmy G will lead the 49ers back to the Super Bowl
During Super Bowl LIV, Jimmy Garoppolo was not terrible. What he was, however, was exposed. A superb game manager for the majority of the season, Garoppolo was thrust onto the biggest stage and failed to come up with big plays when the 49ers needed them.
In a performance that was somewhat similar to what Jared Goff did for the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl, Garoppolo missed open receivers when the game was in the balance and tossed a late interception, his second of the day, to seal the loss for the 49ers.
The 49ers didn’t always ask Garoppolo to do much passing during the season, relying heavily on their running game to wear down defenses and run out the clock from winning positions. In that regard, it isn’t all that surprising he failed to meet the challenge when it was asked of him.
On the other hand, if Garoppolo is really as good as pundits talked him up to be before SB LIV, he should have been able to hit a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders when the game was still in the balance and complete more than three of 11 fourth-quarter passes. But, as everyone in America with a television set saw, he couldn’t.
Unless that changes, the 49ers will only make it back to the Super Bowl in spite of Garoppolo, not because of him.
Buy: We should all be happy Andy Reid won a Super Bowl
Whether you root for the Lions, Tigers or Bears, you should be happy that Andy Reid finally won a Super Bowl. A genuinely likable guy, Reid has been, by most metrics, the second best coach in football for nearly two decades, behind only Bill Belichick.
After Sunday’s win, the one metric that had been holding him back, Super Bowl wins, has flipped in his favor.
There’s also his penchant for delivering great sound bites, which he did once again when asked what his post-game plans were: “I’m going to go get the biggest cheeseburger you’ve ever seen,” Reid said after the win. “I’ll find the biggest one. It might be a double.”
He earned it.
Sell: Kyle Shanahan learned his lesson when the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI
In the week leading up to the SB LIV, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was vocal about coaching differently than he did while he was on the sidelines as an offensive coordinator against the Patriots three years ago.
Unfortunately for Shanahan, history repeated itself on Groundhog Day, as the 49ers blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter during their loss to Kansas City.
Shanahan’s offense failed to manage the clock well down the stretch (something they did to devastating effect throughout the season), giving the Chiefs high-octane offense plenty of time to make their comeback. And when the team was trailing and Shanahan’s offense needed a touchdown drive to retake they lead, they fizzled.
As noted above, some of the blame certainly falls on the shoulders and right arm of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. But Shanahan, who didn’t even have to call a punt during the first three quarters of the game, certainly deserves some blame as well.
After all, teams are 29-3 when leading by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
Two of those losses involved a Shanahan-led offense.
Buy: The Chiefs will be hard-pressed to make SB LV
As of now, Kansas City is favored to win Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay next year. But given how the rest of the AFC will be loading up to beat them, it will be a massive achievement if the Chiefs can even make it back to the big game.
The team with the best record in the AFC this season, the Baltimore Ravens, will certainly be back in the mix, likely with an improved receiving corps for NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to work with.
Hampered by injuries for much of the season, Baltimore’s defense (if healthy) will also improve next season and should make a team that went 14-2 during the regular season even better.
In New England, the Patriots are expected to revamp their offense in order to help bolster Brady if he re-signs with the team. Even if he doesn’t, New England will be looking to use the salary they would have allocated to Brady to give his replacement (Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, ?) all the weapons he needs to make the transition a smooth one.
And don’t forget about Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though they haven’t made the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Steelers are still a force to be reckoned with as they have good receivers and a defense that improved steadily throughout this season and will only be better next year.
For the first time, the Chiefs have a big, red target on their backs. They certainly have the talent to remain on top in the AFC. Whether they’re able to do it, which is far from an easy task, remains to be seen.
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