Four Takeaways From the Chiefs' Super Bowl Win Over the 49ers

Four overarching thoughts on the Chiefs' Super Bowl Sunday victory over the 49ers on Sunday night.

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LVIII, the 2023-24 NFL season is officially in the books. Fortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, it ended with them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Behind some late fourth-quarter heroics and an overtime push, Andy Reid's team won the big game yet again. It's the third Super Bowl win in the last five seasons for Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones as the club's championship core. Sunday's contest ended similarly to Super Bowl LIV four years ago: with the Chiefs taking down the San Francisco 49ers and reaching the mountaintop of the football world. 

With that in mind, here are four immediate takeaways from Sunday's game.

Kansas City's offense got off to an extremely slow start

Leading up to kickoff of the Super Bowl, reports indicated that the Chiefs were locked in and treating this week like a business trip. Kansas City also passed the proverbial vibe test, coming off as a team ready to handle business and set the tone early on Sunday. Despite the build-up (and an alleged "unbelievable" speech from Travis Kelce), the offensive side of the ball came out quite flat in the biggest game of the year.

On the Chiefs' first two drives, both ended in punts. After that, running back Isiah Pacheco fumbled the football immediately following a big play to Mecole Hardman. Drive No. 4, like the opening possession, was a three-and-out. Simply put, Kansas City didn't sustain many drives and didn't value the football in the first half. That, combined with poor offensive line play and some questionable second-down play-calling decisions from Andy Reid, resulted in a mere three-point output entering the locker room. 

The Kyle Shanahan vs. Steve Spagnuolo chess match was alive and well in the opening half

In a game between two of the better offensive minds in NFL history, it was ironic that Kyle Shanahan's plan was being focused on more than Reid's. With that said, Shanahan seemed to be facing a more serious challenge. The Chiefs' defense was one of the NFL's best all season, boasting plenty of high-end talent and off-speed pitches in its scheme. Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for his creativity and unrelenting nature, although Shanahan mitigated that a bit to start.

San Francisco went to its 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end) packages on a whopping 13 of 17 plays to begin the game. That forced the Chiefs' defense into its base personnel set, leaving contributors like Drue Tranquill on the sideline. Spagnuolo attempted to generate pressure with a healthy blitz rate, and Kansas City held its opponent out of the red zone for the entire half. Allowing 10 points wasn't the end of the world, although a Christian McCaffrey fumble robbed the 49ers of potential opening-drive points. The Chiefs were generally good on defense in the first half but weren't dominant enough to totally outweigh a poor offensive start. 

Things heated up late in the third quarter and into the fourth

Coming out of the half, play was ugly for both sides. The Chiefs kicked things off with an interception on their first possession, following that up with a punt, field goal and another punt. On San Francisco's side, the half opened with three straight three-and-out possessions. A momentum shift occurred when a Kansas City punt was muffed by the 49ers and recovered by the Chiefs deep in opposing territory. The Chiefs scored on the very next play to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, setting the table for a thrilling finish. 

Momentum swung back when the 49ers responded to end the third and start the fourth quarter by running a 12-play drive for 75 yards. That drive took over six minutes off the clock and concluded with a pass from Purdy to Jauan Jennings with L'Jarius Sneed in coverage. Leo Chenal blocked the extra point attempt, which ended up being significant when Kansas City went back down the field and tied things up. The Kansas City defense bent but didn't break late in the fourth frame, holding San Francisco to a field goal. Everyone knows what happened next. 

In the end, a Chiefs dynasty was cemented

Kansas City got the ball back with a pair of timeouts and just under two minutes left in regulation, giving the offense a chance to tie or win the game. A smooth-starting drive ultimately stalled out, but kicker Harrison Butker sent things into overtime with a clutch series nonetheless. Under the NFL's new overtime rules for postseason play, this added a new twist to an already exciting game. It was the same setup for Kansas City in overtime: down a field goal, needing a kick to tie or a touchdown to complete its mission as back-to-back Super Bowl champions. That's exactly what they did.

Executing a 13-play, 75-yard drive, the Chiefs capped things off with a Mecole Hardman touchdown to win by a final score of 25-22. In the process, they etched their names in the history books and are consecutive Super Bowl champions for the first time in a generation. With their third championship in five years, the Chiefs can officially call themselves a dynasty. History was made on Sunday in Las Vegas.

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