By Lucas Camacho
Upland, California (The Hollywood Times) 02/12/2024
Going into this game, the Chiefs were facing long odds to defend their title. The 49ers were rolling heading into this matchup, and they got an extra boost earlier in the week when Christian McCaffrey was named Offensive Player of the Year. So, what did the Chiefs need? My argument was that they needed some lucky breaks to go their way, and what better place to get lucky than in Las Vegas? A trend developed in this year’s postseason: the Chiefs’ opponents committed too many mistakes and the Chiefs capitalized on them. In this game, the 49ers’ muffed punt combined with a missed extra point cost them the chance to end their 30-year Super Bowl drought. That’s right: the Chiefs are still on top of the world. In a season plagued with offensive miscues and red flags, Kansas City managed to pull off a comeback and become the first repeat champs since the Patriots were led by Tom Brady.
Full credit to the Chiefs’ defense. They didn’t have the prettiest game in the world, as they didn’t have much luck in slowing McCaffrey down. However, like the legendary Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela’s performance in the 1981 World Series, the Chiefs’ defensive performance wasn’t great, but it was good enough and it got the job done. They kept their team in the game and had critical holds to stop the 49ers from getting into the end zone. Their best feat was blocking the extra point down the stretch that ended up bringing the game into overtime.
The second Super Bowl overtime game in the history of the NFL with the first being several years ago (once again won by the Patriots led by Tom Brady…I know, you’re probably sick of me talking about this guy). From my vantage point, the 49ers didn’t feed McCaffrey nearly as much as they should have, and when they did, he burned the Chiefs. It felt like the 49ers should have gone for it on 4th down only because the 49ers defense looked tired and sloppy toward the end of the game. It wouldn’t be the first time that a team loses in the Super Bowl by not giving it to their best player more down the stretch. It’s a scenario we saw play out in Super Bowl XLIX when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll opted for a passing play on a critical goal line play instead of giving the ball to star Running Back Marshawn Lynch. Like the 49ers did on Sunday, the Seahawks ended up losing that Super Bowl as well (their opponents in that game were…oh, you gotta be kidding me; the Patriots led by Tom Brady…).
At the end of this game, we say goodbye to another NFL season. So, the question is: where do both teams go from here? Let’s start with the 49ers. It must not be good to be on the 49ers’ side of this historic game. After all, it was the late great NBA legend Kobe Bryant that once said: “second place just means you’re the first loser.” The pieces are in place for the 49ers to stay a dominant force in the NFL. The biggest thing they will need to remember next season is this: stay healthy…and DON’T SHOOT YOURSELVES IN THE FOOT! It’s the same bad playing that cost the Bills and the Ravens against the Chiefs. There are teams like the Commanders or the Jaguars where you can make a mistake and get away with it. But the time to get away with making mistakes is NOT IN THE SUPER BOWL. The only point of concern for next season for the 49ers is their divisional rivals: the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams showed signs of life down the stretch the season: surprising us all and almost upsetting the Lions in the Wild Card round. The 49ers will look to tighten up their decision making and focus on keeping their big guns healthy, because that gap between the 49ers and the Rams sure does look like it’s shrinking.
Now for all you Taylor Swift fans want: how about those Chiefs? Kansas City finally has a competent defense to work with, and they should focus on keeping it intact. The biggest point of concern will be for Patrick Mahomes to build better chemistry with his receivers. We saw what the Chiefs look like without Travis Kelce (…and I can hear you Taylor and Kelce shippers cheering at the mere mention of his name…) on the field: it doesn’t look pretty.
Another point of concern might be the Running Back position. Isiah Pacheco only averaged about 3 yards per carry in this contest, and it looked like his confidence took a hit. An idea would be to bring in some competition to stoke that fire under him again. The Chiefs send a message that they are never an underdog. However, that doesn’t mean they should get complacent. Next season might turn into an even bigger title defense challenge than this season. Their division rivals are already chomping at the bit. The Raiders, who must suffer the indignity that comes with the Chiefs winning the title in THEIR stadium, is led by a shiny new head coach that has the complete faith of his team and many famed Raiders alumni (and who already beat the Chiefs famously on Christmas Day). Meanwhile one state over, the Chargers are going through a complete overhaul led by new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh: the man that just led the Michigan Wolverines to a National Championship. He’s got big plans for the Chargers as he looks to utilize the most out of franchise star Justin Herbert. And let’s not forget to look outside the division: the Ravens will be out for revenge, the Texans look strong with the impressive Rookie of the Year CJ Stroud at the helm, the Bills are always a threat, and the biggest question…will the arrival of number one prospect Caleb Williams knock Patrick Mahomes off his throne as top QB in the league? There’s a lot of questions, and the Chiefs better have answers…or they may not have the chance to defend their title next year.
SIDE BAR NOTE: SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS
Every year for the last couple of decades, the commercials during the Super Bowl have got as much attention as the Super Bowl itself. There were many charming and witty commercials this year. One of the funniest was the commercial for State Farm starring Arnold Schwarzenegger: the star of many action films and father-in-law to Star-Lord (aka Chris Pratt who also appeared in a Super Bowl commercial). The commercial ended up reuniting him with his Twins co-star Danny DeVito, and it worked brilliantly.
However, my award for the best commercial goes to Fan Duel. Like last year, they featured former NFL player Rob Gronkowski try and kick a field goal…and it ended up going as well as the kick that the Chiefs blocked. However, the commercial, while it made fun of Gronk, ended on a somber note: a tribute to the late great Carl Weathers.
Earlier this month, Carl Weathers’ family announced the acting legend’s passing, and tributes have poured in from around the world. In teasers for this commercial, Gronk trained with Weathers for the kick; mirroring when Weathers’ character of Apollo Creed helped Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky train in Rocky 3. The commercial thanked Weathers in an emotional moment that I’m sure made a lot of us shed a tear or two. It was a nice way to pay tribute to a great man, and what better time to do it than during the biggest sporting event of the year?