This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
This one hurts. I bet $1000 on the 49ers and another $200 in MVP props that depended on them winning. It was the biggest single-game outlay of my life, based on my theory that top defenses out-perform the spread in Super Bowls. And I was right – until I wasn't.
Of course, I'm unhappy I lost that money, but I don't feel badly about it the way I would if I lost that much playing blackjack in Vegas (something I would never allow myself to do.) I had a basis for picking the Niners, I recommended it to other people, and I wanted some skin in the game. Talk without action is cheap, and in any event, I won't go hungry on account of the loss.
The story of this game will be Patrick Mahomes' comeback – the winning team always gets the narrative – but it was only possible because the 49ers offense, up 10 with 12 minutes left after an interception gave them the ball at their own 20, could not close out the game. The Niners got as far as their own 39 before punting it back with nine minutes to go.
On the subsequent Chiefs drive, on 3rd-and-15, from the Chiefs 35, with 7:13 left, Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill for 44 yards, by far their biggest play of the game, and the one that turned the tide. If the 49ers get a stop, the Chiefs probably punt on fourth down, and the game is likely over.
Even so, the 49ers got the ball back, up three, with six minutes left, but they abandoned the run, tried simple and short play-action passes, rather than the misdirection that had worked so well in the first half and punted again. Then the dam broke.
• I didn't actually see the last three minutes of the game, starting with the Damien Williams TD catch that was reviewed because my NFL Game Pass Europe lost connectivity. I tried repeatedly to restore it, but instead settled for tracking it on Twitter. I don't think I'll bother re-watching.
• The 49ers defense held Mahomes to 6.8 YPA, sacked him four times and picked him twice. It also forced a fumble that Mahomes was lucky to recover and held the Chiefs to 10 points with seven minutes left in the game.
• Jimmy Garoppolo was accurate on short stuff for most of the game, but he's a poor scrambler, doesn't improvise well and made some bad decisions. Mobility used to be a luxury for QBs, but in the modern NFL it's becoming a necessity.
• Andy Reid had a good game – he went for it on 4th-and-short early and had creative and unpredictable play calls on those downs, leading to easy conversions.
• Damien Williams was the Chiefs best offensive player, though of course Mahomes got the MVP.
• Kyle Shanahan had a good offensive game plan early, but got too predictable with the play calls in the fourth quarter and never made the Chiefs pay for blitzing and stacking the line with plays down the field. Even the Deebo Samuel misdirection plays were lacking the second half. And I have no idea what Shanahan was thinking at the end of the first half where he essentially squandered the last minute and a half for no reason, not three minutes after an easy TD drive where his offense dominated a confused KC defense.
• The refs didn't have a huge impact, but the offensive PI at the end of the half on George Kittle was beyond ticky-tack. They also missed a clear off-sides on the Chiefs and a couple holds. But mostly, they were not the story.
• I still feel the better defense had the game in hand, but the game is 60, not 50 minutes, and the offense had to do its job. Next time there's a large disparity between defensive units in the Super Bowl, I'll probably still lean the same way.
• Every halftime show is the same crap. A bunch of women in tight Halloween costumes doing choreographed gyrations to bad music. Brittany Spears, Shakira Jennifer Lopez – who can even tell them apart?