You would think I would have learned by now to stop second guessing myself, and instead listen to my own advice. Seriously, nobody understands me better than me. But there I was, making my final prediction on Super Bowl Sunday, picking the San Francisco 49ers to ultimately win the big game behind the strength of their superior defense. Boy, was I wrong, and I only have myself to blame. What was I thinking?
Over the past couple of years I have written multiple articles waxing poetically about the importance of the QB position. You either have a QB capable of winning the Super Bowl, or you don't. There are no consolation prizes for second place: the winner takes it all. No bonus points for giving it your best effort, second place still goes home the loser.
This Super Bowl presented NFL football fans with a unique storyline. Both Super Bowl starting QBs were first time participants, therefore neither was a proven Super Bowl winning QB. This year the Super Bowl wasn't going to feature a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, or Russell Wilson; just to name a few of the QBs that have proven capable of not only leading their teams to multiple Super Bowls since the turn of the century, but ultimately in winning the big game.
This year was going to be different, but you couldn't blame the participants. You can't prove capable until your blessed with the opportunity. Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and San Francisco Forty Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo were going head to head to see who was the contender, and who was a pretender. As it always does, the game itself provided all the answers.
Due to the around the clock, wall-to-wall media coverage of the Kobe Bryant tragedy; Super Bowl week didn't really seem to get started till around Thursday. Immediately, the national media's concerted efforts were made known. They were preparing the masses for Patrick Mahomes inevitable ascension into the upper echelon of NFL QBs. Then, as they so often do, they collectively jumped the shark. They couldn't stop themselves from taking their enthusiastic praises just a little too far.
I understand their motive, in conjunction with what's best for the longevity and prosperity of the NFL. You want a Patrick Mahomes to be the face of the NFL. Mahomes appears to be a quality young man of strong character; who's fearless playing style and flair for the dramatic captivates audiences, both young and old. With established stars like Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, and Rodgers nearing the end of their Hall of Fame careers, the NFL is understandably searching for their next bell cow.
All Mahomes had to do to sit on the throne was win the game. It sure seemed like that is what the national media was rooting for all week. Then they took the whole thing a little too far, as they are prone to do, before the actual game had even been played.
Multiple talking heads on various networks suggested that Mahomes may just be the greatest QB in NFL history at this point of his NFL career. That is where they lost me, if I am being honest. I believe that statement to be complete hyperbole and disrespectful to every great QB that has ever played in the NFL.
For example, what kind of mind blowing numbers would a young Dan Marino have put up in today's NFL, where seemingly every rule change over the past few decades has tilted the field for the offenses? There are too many viable examples, such as this, that explains why making statements about a second year starting QB being the best ever have no real merit.
Then the game started, and for a while it appeared the NFL's prayers might not be answered. Honestly, Mahomes struggled throughout most of the game. For a player blessed with an extremely strong throwing arm, he inexplicably short armed throws to wide open receivers. He threw an interception into coverage after failing to properly diagnosis it presnap. He threw another pick after throwing behind his intended receiver on a slat pattern, all while a starry eyed Troy Aikman was earnestly trying to convince the audience that the throw was "on the money".
Even though Mahomes wasn't performing up to his usual standards, there was some good news for Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Jimmy 'GQ' Garoppolo and the Niners weren't exactly playing up to their own standards either.
Then the fourth quarter rolls around in a tightly contested ball game where both QBs would have ample opportunity to make the plays that would decide the outcome of the game. What happened next really shouldn't have came as too much of a surprise. Mahomes made the plays, Garoppolo did not.
Late in the fourth, with the Niners needing a touchdown to win the game after blowing a ten point fourth quarter lead, JimmyG got his once in a lifetime opportunity. It was the type of opportunity where legends are made. On a critical third down play, Emmanuel Sanders unbelievably got behind the Chiefs defense and was racing wide open toward the endzone. Garoppolo had a great look and let it fly. Overthrew everybody, not even close. He had the perfect opportunity to have the moment every child dreams about playing football in their backyards, but the moment turned out to be too big for JimmyG.
In any title matchup, there has to be a winner and a loser. Did Patrick Mahomes win the Super Bowl, or did Jimmy Garoppolo lose it? Truthfully, Mahomes did just enough; aided by Garoppolo's inability to come through in the clutch. For Mahomes, it was a dream come true. With no obvious choice, they ended up awarding Mahomes the Super Bowl MVP.
Makes sense if you think about it. After all, he is the new face of the NFL.