News & Analysis

Super Bowl 54 PFF ReFocused: Kansas City Chiefs 31, San Francisco 49ers 20

Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. This was not the best game of Patrick Mahomes’ career by any stretch of the imagination, but he made enough of those big plays down the stretch to secure the Kansas City Chiefs their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. Perhaps most impressive is how he and the Chiefs’ offense overcame consistent pressure by the San Francisco 49ers’ front line. Mahomes was pressured on 20 of his 49 dropbacks in the game, but the Chiefs averaged over seven yards per play on said dropbacks. That’s over double the NFL average this season. Even without being at his best, it was an impressive display from Mahomes.

Nick Bosa was a big part of that push on Mahomes all game. On initial count, Bosa recorded 12 quarterback pressures, which would be tied for the most by any defender in a single game this season. Last night, he deservedly won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and though the 49ers couldn’t hold onto their lead, Bosa turned in another stellar effort to close out his standout rookie campaign. It looks like the younger Bosa is on a similar path to older brother Joey Bosa towards becoming one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. That’s not a bad place to be at all.

You can look at performance under pressure for both quarterbacks as one of the biggest deciding factors in the game. When the Chiefs’ pass rush hit home on Jimmy Garoppolo, he folded. Garoppolo completed just one of his nine attempts under pressure for 20 yards and two interceptions. The difference between how he handled the pocket breaking down compared to Mahomes is a big reason that Mahomes and the Chiefs were the ones lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

As was to be expected, Mahomes got some help from his elite group of offensive playmakers. At the forefront of that conversation are Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, both of whom made a number of plays in the season’s biggest game with 15 combined receptions for nearly 150 receiving yards. One guy who didn’t always come to play this season was Sammy Watkins, but he brought in five receptions for 98 receiving yards, four of which went for first downs. That’s the type of production that the Chiefs were expecting from Watkins when they signed him to the big three-year contract a couple of seasons ago.

When they signed that contract, there were Super Bowl aspirations in Kansas City. Those aspirations only strengthened as the world saw Mahomes take the league by storm as a rookie, but they were later crushed in a heartbreaker in last year’s AFC Championship. A year later, the Chiefs received vindication in Miami. With Mahomes at quarterback, the league’s best head coach and a solid collection of offensive and defensive playmakers, the Chiefs figure to be back in this position next season. But, for now, the Chiefs can enjoy their second Super Bowl title. They deserve it.

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