PARADISE, Nev. – Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl MVP award, Travis Kelce led his team in receiving and the Kansas City Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy again, outlasting the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime in of the championship on Sunday.
But this Chiefs title may have been the most balanced team effort of any Super Bowl victory in the Mahomes-Andy Reid era. The first half was dominated by defense and special teams. The second half belonged to Mahomes and a near-perfect outing from an otherwise sloppy receiving corps.
Who else deserves props for helping KC win their third trophy in five years? Here are five unsung heroes:
Sidelined for nearly two months with a groin injury, McKinnon was activated at the last minute, and although he only managed two touches against San Francisco, he made them count. His second – a first down catch on third-and-2 near midfield – helped set up the Chiefs’ tying field goal in the final minutes of regulation. Reid clearly trusted him as a safety valve on third downs, during which he also allowed physical starter Isiah Pacheco (72 total yards) to catch his breath in the backfield.
Kelce grabbed the headlines and Mecole Hardman scored the touchdown, but Rice also made a splash precisely when it mattered most. His 13-yard first down to Charvarius Ward with 4:10 left in overtime kept the momentum squarely in Kansas City’s favor, allowing the Chiefs to milk the clock before their final score. He was also responsible for another positive gain on the winning momentum, solidifying himself as a reliable and promising playmaker for Mahomes.
The second-year cover man was highly regarded before the game, but he took it up a notch working against a lethal receiving corps featuring Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings, who briefly looked like a solid Super Bowl MVP candidate. Early on, he broke up a potential deep ball TD to Samuel in the end zone, and he finished with two more pass deflections, plus two QB hits, overcoming a late defensive holding penalty to keep San Francisco out of the end zone in overtime. .
Even though the 49ers made Super Bowl LVIII a close game, they never really got the better of the Chiefs defense, and Reid had a lot to do with that. A tone-setter whose physicality nearly caused a few extracurricular fights, he finished second on KC’s defense with nine tackles, while also disrupting the pocket with a half-sack and a hit on Brock Purdy. His steady hand as the last line of defense is one of the most underrated reasons for the Chiefs’ back-to-back championships.
Special teams dominated much of the game, but let’s be honest: the Kickers could always use more love. And Butker was literally perfect in his work against the 49ers, finishing 5 of 5 on field goals — including 4 of 4 on field goals — while easily connecting on a 57-yard Super Bowl LVIII long. There was never any doubt from anyone on the Chiefs sideline when he took the field, and for good reason: A year after suffering a career-low FG percentage, Butker was money for all of 2023, and in fact has never missed a kick in the playoffs. .