It was the most special special teams act you may ever see – and it helped spark a Super Bowl comeback which saw 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan punished for his cowardice, for a third time.
A blocked extra point has led to Kansas City claiming another Super Bowl title, with Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs prevailing 25-22 in an overtime thriller over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Niners were on the brink of glory after taking a 16-13 lead with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 58, with kicker Jake Moody lining up for the extra point to extend the lead to four.
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But the Michigan grad, who earlier in the game kicked the longest field goal in Super Bowl history, saw his extra point blocked by the Chiefs’ Leo Chenal – who forced a fumble on the opening drive of the game.
Only leading by an extra point meant that, with the teams trading field goals on the final three drives of the game, they were tied at 19-all at the end of regulation.
Indeed the Chiefs were able to kick a field goal with six seconds left in the game to force overtime rather than being forced to score a touchdown.
In overtime, the new rules also worked in Kansas City’s favour, as after the 49ers drove for a field goal the Chiefs were given the ball and managed to drive down for a title-winning touchdown.
But it all went back to Chenal’s block – as it meant they did not need to score another touchdown in regulation to claim their third Super Bowl title in the Mahomes and Andy Reid era.
Yet that moment may not have proven critical, if not for yet another game management blunder from Kyle Shanahan.
Arguably the NFL’s greatest offensive mind, Shanahan’s unwillingness to make bold in-game decisions has proven an Achilles heel, and for a second straight Super Bowl against Patrick Mahomes he was punished for it.
Shanahan was hoping to make amends for two heartbreaking Super Bowl losses in his recent past – a pair of games where he was blamed for the defeat.
As offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, Shanahan chose not to slow down the game when leading the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, as they coughed up a 28-3 lead to lose in overtime.
His game management was again poor in Super Bowl LIV – as, even though his 49ers led the Chiefs 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter, Shanahan left points on the board with incredibly conservative calls.
Notably Shanahan chose not to spend timeouts when the Chiefs had the ball at the end of the first half, in an attempt to have more time on the clock when the 49ers got the ball back just before the break.
He made the exact same mistake in Super Bowl LVIII, going into halftime holding a 10-3 lead despite his offence dominating the game, yet seemingly believing taking timeouts into the locker room would earn him a financial bonus.
Shanahan gave up the opportunity to add to the margin. Maybe the Niners would have turned the ball over on that late drive on Monday (AEDT), but maybe their incredible attack would have found away to score again, and led by more than seven points at the break.
It was not enough. Despite an interception to begin the second half, Mahomes got the Chiefs’ offence going and, after a brutal blunder by the punt return team, eventually took the lead and the epic ending followed.
It was even more painful watching Shanahan make the exact same mistake when you saw how his brilliant mind created the lead in the first place.
An early trick play, with Purdy flicking it back to receiver and high school QB Jauan Jennings, was designed brilliantly to allow Christian McCaffrey to break through for a touchdown.
Shanahan smartly used the rules around offensive pass interference, which do not come into play with blocks behind the line of scrimmage, to spring a block on the critical 49ers defender who wasn’t expecting it (because beyond the line of scrimmage it would’ve been illegal).
He even made amends for his previous fourth-down cowardice midway through the fourth quarter.
A McCaffrey run on third and two from the 14-yard line lost a yard, and trailing by three points, the traditional conservative move would’ve been to kick the field goal and tie things up at 13-all.
Instead on fourth and three, Shanahan dialled up a short pass to George Kittle which took advantage of Niners defence being weakened via several in-game injuries, which the veteran star caught and converted.
Two players later Jauan Jennings caught the touchdown which put the Niners up 16-13 – which was when that missed extra point came into play.
And so Shanahan was left without a Super Bowl title, again, making amends for some mistakes – but not others.
Until he solves these flaws he may never win one.
Originally published as Small act sparks Super Bowl miracle as coach’s cowardice costs him title… for a third time