Theme: Kansas City cashes in the red zone.
First TD: The Chiefs ranked only 20th in the red zone this season, scoring TDs on 54% of trips inside the 20. They converted on their first attempt when Patrick Mahomes ran 1 yard off right tackle to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive.
Best choreography: Mahomes and the three other men in the backfield did a pirouette before the snap on the fourth-and-1 play from the Niners’ 5. Damian Williams took a direct-snap run for 4 yards.
Tough D: It was a good start for the Chiefs because the Niners allowed just 60 first-quarter points, about a field goal a game, tied for seventh fewest this season.
Key tackle: Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland fought off a block and tackled Deebo Samuel for a 2-yard loss on a wide receiver screen. The Niners were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal.
Best pass rush: Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones beat guard Mike Person cleanly to force a heaved throwaway by Jimmy Garoppolo that Breeland intercepted.
No second guess: It looked like Chiefs coach Andy Reid was going to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1. Thankfully, he didn't.
• • •
Theme: Surprise: A low-scoring first half. Both teams moved the ball, but there were only two touchdowns.
Play-action game: Jimmy Garoppolo was 6 for 6 for 52 yards and a TD on play-action passes in the first half. His 15-yard TD pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk tied the game, 10-10. The Niners ran play-action on 31% of passes this year, tops in the NFL. Juszczyk faked a run block to the left, caught the pass and slipped a tackle from safety Daniel Sorensen.
Good D: The Chiefs were the highest-scoring team in the NFL in the second quarter this year, with 177 points. The Niners held them to three.
Zebra report: The offensive pass interference call on Niners tight end George Kittle was right on. It wiped out a 42-yard catch with 6 seconds left.
Second guess: Niners coach Kyle Shanahan played it conservative by not calling a timeout with the Chiefs lined up to punt with 1:25 left in the half. He let at least 20 seconds run off the clock. The Niners got to their own 45 with 14 seconds left on the ensuing possession. There should have been 34 seconds remaining.
• • •
Theme: The Niners take charge.
The best defense is? San Francisco held the ball for 8:59 of the quarter and scored on both of its possessions, keeping Mahomes on the sidelines.
Key INT: The Chiefs called a maximum-protection pass with seven men in to block on a third-and-12 play. That meant three receivers in the pattern vs. seven coverage men. When Niners defensive end Arik Armstead got inside Mitchell Schwartz, Mahomes hurried a throw over the middle that linebacker Fred Warner easily intercepted.
TE double team: On the ensuing drive after the interception, the Niners got a 26-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne to the Chiefs’ 11. It converted a third-and-8 situation. The Chiefs double covered tight end George Kittle in the left flat, putting Bourne one on one against Charvarious Ward.
Mr. Third Down: Mahomes scrambled for 5 yards and a first down late in the quarter. Through the first 18 games this season, he was 7 for 7 on conversions when scrambling on third down. In the first quarter, he scrambled for 10 yards on third and 11. That was his first failure of the year on third-down scrambles, but the Chiefs got it on fourth down.
• • •
Theme: Kansas City busts loose.
Super Chiefs: The win gave the Chiefs their first title since their 23-7 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. That result gave the AFL a 2-2 record with the NFL in the big game and closed the 10-year history of the AFL. The Chiefs now are one of 13 franchises with two or more Super Bowl crowns.
Niners lament: San Francisco had two possessions in the fourth quarter with a 20-10 lead and came up empty on both. The Niners averaged 29.9 ppg this year. Twenty points wasn’t going to get it done vs. the Chiefs.
Key play: On third and 15 from his own 36 with 7:15 left, Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill on a deep corner route for 44 yards. Hill’s fake to the post made deep safety Jimmie Ward spin around.
Unsung hero: Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, whose defense held New England in check in Super Bowl XLII, got aggressive in the fourth quarter. He dialed up two blitzes in a row to force a three-and-out drive and a Niners punt with 5:18 to go. A six-man blitz killed the Niners’ final fourth-and-10 shot.
The Buffalo News: Bills
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