Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 16, 2024

Dynasty cemented: A recap of Super Bowl LVIII

By JOSEPH RAINBOLT | February 15, 2024

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ALL-PRO REELS FROM DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA / CC BY-SA 2.0

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are now a dynasty after winning their third championship in five years. Joseph Rainbolt recaps the dramatic Super Bowl LVIII finish.

The Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years on Sunday, securing their standing as an NFL dynasty. A strong performance from the Chiefs' defense, several squanders by the 49ers and, of course, Patrick Mahomes' magic were enough to keep the Lombardi Trophy in Kansas City. Here’s the play-by-play.

Missed opportunity

The 49ers outplayed the Chiefs in the first half. Yet at halftime, the 49ers were only ahead 10–3. This was their biggest missed opportunity, as they needed to bury the Chiefs but failed to do so.

The 49ers received the kickoff and came out firing. Two runs by Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey and two short passes by quarterback Brock Purdy found the 49ers just outside the red zone on the Kansas City 29. The 49ers were marching and well within field goal range, looking poised to grab an early lead. On first and 10, the 49ers stayed on the ground with McCaffrey, who proceeded to fumble. The Chiefs recovered, flipping possession and ending a promising 49ers drive. 

The rest of the first quarter was dominated by defense, ending with a 0–0 scoreline. The two teams traded punts, with the Chiefs looking particularly stifled, only mustering 16 total yards on their first two possessions.

The next scoring chance came at the beginning of the second quarter. Starting on their own 17, the 49ers drove to the edge of field goal range. A blown-up run and an overthrown pass on 3rd and 14 led to a 55-yard field goal chance for 49ers kicker Jake Moody. His kick was true, giving the 49ers the first score of the game and a 3–0 advantage. 

The Chiefs looked as though they had an immediate answer, as a 54-yard completion by Patrick Mahomes to fifth-year receiver Mecole Hardman put the Chiefs on the 49ers’ 9-yard line. The fumble bug then hit the Chiefs, as running back Isiah Pacheco coughed up the ball, returning possession to the 49ers.

After a back-and-forth of punts, the 49ers scored the only touchdown of the first half on the play of the game. Brock Purdy dropped back and flipped a screen pass to receiver Jauan Jennings, who proceeded to drop back and throw a high-lofted pass all the way across the width of the field to Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers’ running back then waltzed untouched into the end zone, extending the 49ers’ lead to 10–0 with four minutes remaining in the half.

Four minutes proved to be plenty of time for Mahomes, who marched his Chiefs down the field before a sack by defensive end Arik Armstead forced a 28-yard chip shot field goal to end the half, bringing the score to 10–3. 

The first half was the 49ers’ chance to pull away, and they did not seize it. The 49ers had all the momentum, and yet the Chiefs were able to escape to the locker room down only one score.

Too many chances

The third quarter began unceremoniously for the Chiefs, as Mahomes tossed an interception at the edge of Chiefs territory, gifting the 49ers an amazing field position. Despite starting at the Chiefs’ own 44-yard line, the 49ers would squander this opportunity with an unimpressive three-and-out. 

After a series of back-and-forth punts, Mahomes started to find his footing, leading the Chiefs on their second scoring drive of the game. This time it was a Super Bowl record 57-yard field goal by kicker Harrison Butker, bringing the score to 10–6. 

At the end of the third quarter, disaster struck for the 49ers, as a muffed punt gave the Chiefs possession in the red zone. The punt was on track to fall harmlessly to the ground, as punt returner Ray-Ray McCloud made no effort to catch it until the punt hit blocker Darrell Luter in the foot on the way down. McCloud tried to scoop it up, but it slipped through his hands and right into a crowd of oncoming Chiefs. Kansas City did not hesitate to capitalize on the miscue, scoring a touchdown on the very next play. This gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game, 13–10, and much-needed momentum to an offense struggling to find answers. 

The 49ers did not wait to answer, receiving the kickoff and marching down the field in a six-minute drive that culminated in a Brock Purdy touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings. In what would later be of the utmost importance, the extra point attempt was blocked. This crucially kept the game within field goal range, at 49ers 16 – Chiefs 13.

The Chiefs’ 16-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce and 25-yard completion to receiver Justin Watson brought Mahomes just four yards from his second touchdown of the night. An impressive goal-line stand by the 49ers forced the Chiefs to settle for a field goal, tying the game with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers began their attempt at a game-winning drive, trying to eat as much clock as possible while inching toward field goal range. This proved somewhat successful, bringing the clock down past the two-minute warning, before a Chiefs blitz forced a rushed pass out of Brock Purdy and a 53-yard field goal attempt. Jake Moody didn’t miss giving the 49ers a three-point lead and leaving Patrick Mahomes one minute and 57 seconds to make a play.

He would do just that, picking apart the San Francisco defense before running out of time on the 49ers’ 11-yard line. The 29-yard field goal was good, and the game went into overtime tied 19–19. 

Overtime

Overtime began with a head-scratcher. The 49ers won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. This was a controversial decision, as the new overtime rules allow both teams to have a chance to score, instead of the previous iteration of overtime, where if the receiving team scored a touchdown, the game was over.

Nevertheless, the 49ers received and brought the ball all the way to the Kansas City 9-yard line, before being faced with a fourth and 4. The 49ers decided to trust their defense and kicked the 27-yard field goal. This gave Patrick Mahomes the chance to win the game if he could lead the Chiefs into the end zone.

It took seven minutes, but with a key 20-yard scramble by Mahomes and several short passes, the Chiefs' offense drove deep into 49er territory. From the three-yard line, Mahomes dropped back and delivered a pass to a wide-open Mecole Hardman, who ran untouched into the end zone, winning the Super Bowl.

Dynasty

It is hard to argue that Mahomes and the Chiefs are not on one of the most dominant runs in the history of the NFL. The 2020-2024 Chiefs are one of only four teams to ever win three Super Bowls in a five-year span and the first repeat champions since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. Who knows what the future holds for Mahomes and the Chiefs, but, much to the chagrin of many fans, the team appears poised to contend for a long time, with Mahomes under contract until 2031 and already mentioning a three-peat next season.


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