They say defense wins championships.
Those defenses, at least in the National Football League, clearly haven't had to stop Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of Chiefs coach Andy Reid's offense.
To watch most of Super Bowl LIV on Sunday night was to become convinced that the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense would validate the first sentence of this column. The Niners led 20-10 with less than seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. They had intercepted Mahomes twice. They had somehow slowed all that wicked Chiefs speed that had exploded for a total of 86 points in its first two playoff wins.
But then Mahomes and the Chiefs came alive. Just as they had twice previously come from 10 points down in their playoff victories over the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, they ran off 21 points in roughly five minutes to capture their first Super Bowl in 50 years by a final score of 31-20.
"It's this team, we have heart," said Mahomes, who will take his MVP trophy to Disney World on Monday to ride in a parade at the theme park.
Said Reid, after winning his 222nd career game on the numerical date of 2-2-20, "I'm good, but my heart's racing."
These Chiefs were so good when it mattered most that they became the first team in Super Bowl history to win three playoff games after trailing by at least 10 points in all three. Reid has so much confidence in the 24-year-old Mahomes that after the third-year QB threw two interceptions to seemingly all but hand the Lombardi Trophy to San Fran, the coach told him, "Keep firing."
Of course, this Super Bowl at the close of the NFL's 100th season pretty much fired on all cylinders from long before the opening kick. For starters, unlike too many of its predecessors, both Yolanda Adams' rendition of "America the Beautiful" and Demi Lovato's performance of the national anthem before the game were perfectly struck, made memorable by their embracing of those songs as they were written rather than how they might prefer to interpret them.
There was also the inspired decision by the NFL to highlight its centennial season by having four World War II veterans — each exactly 100 years old — to be honorary captains. One of those — Col. Charles E. McGee — was a former Tuskegee Airman who flew 136 flights over Nazi Europe, then served in Korea and Vietnam.
Then there were the top 100 players the league chose for its first 100 years. At least three of those players had strong ties to the Scenic City, what with the late NFL great, former Tennessee Volunteers All-American and Howard standout Reggie White being chosen, along with former Baylor School and University of Alabama great John Hannah, as well as former Vols quarterback and sometime Chattanooga resident Peyton Manning.
How many towns our size can claim that?
As for the best Super Bowl ads, five stood out, four of them far more touching than tickling. The first was for Google, a widower recalling his favorite moments with the late love of his life, his wife Loretta.
Said the widower: "Loretta always said, 'Don't miss me too much and get out of the dang house.'"
The second was a political ad for presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, who focused on a mother's tragic loss of her son due to gun violence.
The third was an excellent spot from car maker Kia that featured former Alabama and current Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs discussing what he would say to encourage a younger version of himself.
"It's going to be tough growing up homeless," he said of his childhood. "Push yourself to be someone, and I promise one day you will."
The fourth was from Verizon, which was touting its 5G phone. But the commercial wasn't about the phone. It was about all the men and women who protect us, from firefighters to first responders to servicemen, etc.
Its tag line:" Verizon 5G is going to change a lot of things, but thankfully not everything."
Finally, there was the clever Hulu ad featuring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is rumored to be leaving the franchise he has guided to six Super Bowl victories.
Says Brady in the black-and-white ad: "They say you deserve to hear it from me. Me, I'm not going anywhere."
Maybe he won't and maybe he will when free agency kicks in next month, but this was not a Super Bowl likely to be long remembered for its commercials.
Then again, the football didn't need it. These were contrasting teams, one known for its offense and one for its defense. Both labels were accurate, but they were far from the whole story.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was seemingly channeling his inner Joe Montana in staking his team to a 20-10 lead, including a 127 QB rating when throwing out of play-action.
Yet the Kansas City defense had its moments, too, especially down the stretch, including interceptions and a three-and-out series forced immediately after the Chiefs pulled within 20-17 midway in the fourth quarter.
One negative for Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan: He has now played a pretty big role in two of the bigger Super Bowl collapses ever, having been Atlanta's offensive coordinator when the Falcons blew that 28-3 lead against New England and lost in overtime three years ago.
Nor should anyone assume the Chiefs will take another 50 years to return to the game for which their late owner, Lamar Hunt, coined the name Super Bowl.
Looking ahead to start of the NFL's second 100 years, Fox Sports analyst Howie Long said, "The sky's the limit for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs."
If that's so, Disney World could become Mahomes' home away from home for several Februarys to come.