From start to finish — the action on the gridiron, the sheer amount of history made, an abundance of LGBTQ representation, that OMFG incredible halftime performance and that riveting, game-changing fourth quarter — all made the 54th Super Bowl an event to savor and celebrate.
Here are some key moments and milestones, some you witnessed, and others you might have missed.
How the Chiefs Won the Game
The Kansas City Chiefs owe their victory to what SB Nation’s Eric Stephen called their incredible fourth-quarter comeback by Patrick Mahomes and his teammates to beat the 49ers, 31-20. The final score wasn’t a good indicator of just how close this game actually was, according to Stephen’s colleague, Megan Moriarty.
His 10-play, 83-yard touchdown drive capped off with a throw to Travis Kelce in the end zone to make it 20-17 with 6:13 left in the fourth.
Mahomes found Damien Williams for a 5-yard touchdown thanks to the receiver stretching the ball out across the goal line, and the give the Chiefs the lead with 2:44 left in the game.
The 49ers had one last chance, starting with the ball at their own 15-yard line. Jimmy Garoppolo drove San Francisco’s offense to Kansas City’s 49. But on fourth-and-10, KC’s Frank Clark sacked Garoppolo to give the Chiefs the ball back with 1:25 left. Williams scored the final touchdown of the game to seal the 31-20 victory for Kansas City.
Earlier, the officials made a call toward the end of the first half that Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler, a zebra himself, singled out for praise.
But according to @FootballZebras, back judge Greg Steed saw Kittle push-off of Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen and flagged Kittle for offensive pass interference, erasing the gain. The @NFLOfficiating account defended the OPI call in a tweet.
What @NinersNation and other fans of San Francisco (like me) complained about was the fact the refs didn’t seem to think this was a big deal until Sunday night.
didn't call this all season. didn't call it against the Saints to end the game against the Vikings. why now? it's the lack of consistency that's embarrassing. https://t.co/tI1JOrG6U4— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) February 3, 2020
So the Niners took a knee to end the half.
“I’ve gotta live with it. It’s what it is.,” Kittle said after the loss, according to NBC Sports’ Josh Alper. “You know the ref makes the call, you live with it.”
In the third quarter, the 49ers went up 20-10, so they were still able to put themselves into “a position to win the game multiple times,” Kittle said. However, it was the Chiefs who celebrated a championship Sunday night.
It sure didn’t look that way in the first three quarters.
How the 49ers Lost the Game
As Kyle Posey wrote for our SB Nation partner site, Niners Nation, the only thing that was going to get in the way of San Francisco scoring was turnovers. And as more than one sports journalist opined, head coach Kyle Shanahan also got in the 49ers’ way.
The struggles showed in the statline. Near the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Mahomes had completed only 18 of his 29 passes for 172 yards — a 5.9 yard per pass average, well below his career regular-season mark of 8.6 — and thrown zero touchdown passes (but did run for one) with two interceptions.
More importantly, it showed on the scoreboard. With seven minutes left in the biggest game of the season, his Chiefs trailed the Niners, 20-10.
That’s when the 49ers let a couple of opportunities slip through their fingers to open the fourth quarter. One was an interception from Kwon Alexander.
With the score 24-20, all the Niners needed was to score another touchdown. San Francisco took over with 2:44 left. Shanahan will be kicking himself for not running the ball in that situation, USA Today’s Mike Jones wrote.
According to SB Nation’s Alex Kirshner, who freely admits Shanahan knows more about football than he, or me, or you, “Shanahan blew it. He didn’t blow it in the way coaches usually blow it when their teams lose 10-point leads in the fourth quarter. He blew it much earlier: when he called an overly conservative game in the first half, leaving crucial points off the board that the 49ers badly needed when things went to ruin for them in Super Bowl 54’s final minutes.”
The players, coaches and staff from each team lined up on the 24-yard line on both sides of the field, in remembrance of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other victims of their helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Announcers called for a moment of silence, which also honored Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who died this week after battling brain cancer.
In celebration of its 100th year, the NFL paid tribute to living legends, and we saw Tom Brady at a Super Bowl in a way we’ve not seen him in years: not playing.
Houston gospel singer Yolanda Adams belted out a moving rendition of America the Beautiful, followed by pop star Demi Lovato singing The National Anthem. Lovato has spoken out in the past about being sexually fluid. Nobody took a knee or sat in protest, as far as is known. At the conclusion, there was a military flyover.
At one point, a huge American flag filled the field, flanked by a color guard featuring all branches of the U.S. Military — except for the Space Force, which had people talking on Twitter. Other efforts at combining football with patriotism and politics included a brief tribute to centenarian veterans, a video featuring a Medal of Honor recipient and scenes from the September 11th memorial in New York City, plus a spoken word recording of “Ragged Old Flag” by the late Johnny Cash, which provoked anger online.
The Rock hosted an odd, Project Runway-styled video to introduce the Niners and Chiefs, which was reportedly a big hit on the internet.
But for many viewers, the highlight before the kickoff was watching 13-year-old Maxwell “Bunchie” Young, described by Time as a young football and running prodigy from Los Angeles. He starred in a video showing him returning a pass by running all across America, right up to the ref at Hard Rock Stadium.
In the video, Young found help from various players and icons along the way, even taking a moment to honor the late Pat Tillman. When the video ended, the boy ran onto the field, live, followed by other children dressed in NFL jerseys.
If he looks familiar, Young was the Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year in 2017.
More confetti than has ever rained down on champions, I mean, ever, drenched the Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium. So much so that Derrick Nnadi and other players rolled around to make confetti versions of snow angels.
After TV reporters stuck cameras and microphones in players’ faces, the Lombardi trophy was presented to Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and head coach Andy Reid at a post-game ceremony on the field.
In a moment that SB Nation noted harkened back to something Mahomes tweeted seven years ago, he told the crowd he was going to Disney World during the ceremony, then said: “Thank you Kansas City! We did it!”
According to our partner site for the Chiefs, Arrowhead Pride, a parade is set for Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. It’s important to note, Kansas City is in Missouri, not Kansas. An explanation is ahead.
History — and Herstory
You probably also knew Super Bowl LIV is the Chiefs’ first championship title in 50 years, but did you also know that it was the first football championship to feature two teams who wear red?
Also: it was the first time both teams’ uniforms featured a red-and-gold color scheme. Another interesting footnote to history is that the Chiefs owner, Clark Hunt, was inspired by the 49ers’ oval logo to make his team’s logo in the same shape.
This was the Chiefs’ Andy Reid’s first-ever Super Bowl win as a head coach; Until Sunday night, he was the NFL’s winningest coach to not have a Lombardi Trophy. That has now been corrected.
Patrick Mahomes, 24, is the youngest NFL player to be named MVP, and the youngest quarterback to have won a Super Bowl. According to Yahoo Sports, he’s also the first EA Sports Madden cover star to break the curse and win a Super Bowl.
The comeback win was the third straight for Kansas City this season, making the Chiefs the the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by double-digits three times in the same postseason. The Chiefs are one of 10 teams in NFL history to have at least three comeback wins in a single postseason (the 2007 miracle Giants had four such wins, including knocking off the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl), but none of those teams overcame more than one double-digit deficit, according to Eric Stephen.
And as we’ve been reporting here at Outsports, 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers and Kansas City native made history by becoming the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to coach during the Super Bowl. Sowers came out as lesbian in 2017. As Zeigler pointed out, win or lose, Sowers is a hero to many of us.
The Sleeping Fan
The Most Famous Fan
Actor Paul Rudd is the Chiefs superfan, received one of the team’s championship T-shirts and even got to hold the Lombardi Trophy.
Shakira and JLo
“A solid 30 minutes of non-stop dancing by the duo, complete with high kicks, jumps, slides, dives, climbs and more verbs than I can’t even think of at the moment. In short: They were absolutely amazing.
Also during their halftime show was a much-promised remembrance of Kobe Bryant, which took place when Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme, along with a children’s choir, joined her on stage to sing “Let’s Get Loud.”
It happened, but many viewers complained on social media that they didn’t see it.
According to CNN and The Hollywood Reporter, a camera briefly showed an overhead shot of the field revealing a giant cross, which lit up in Lakers purple and yellow. That was it. WUSA-TV reports you can see it for yourself at the 11:54 mark on the NFL YouTube video.
We asked you via Twitter what you thought of Shakira and JLo’s performances.
Super Bowl ads cost as much as $5.6 million per 30 seconds this year, reports NPR. This year’s batch included funny, emotional, serious and thought-provoking commercials, as well as political ads. But what stood out to us were the diverse, inclusive campaigns.
One year after Coca-Cola mentioned the non-binary pronoun “them” for the first time in an ad, the LGBTQ community was even better represented this year, even beyond the primary rainbow colors. Pansexuals, non-binary and even two drag queens appeared in commercials for the first time ever.
According to GLAAD, LGBTQ celebrities appeared in at least 11 inclusive ads aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast:
- Amazon Alexa: Ellen DeGeneres and wife, actress Portia de Rossi
- Budweiser: Ali Krieger & Ashlyn Harris, World Cup champions and members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team who recently married each other. The two appear after full championship team appears near the end of the ad. Budweiser also released a sweet teaser commercial featuring the couple.
- Doritos: Lil Nas X, out Grammy Award winner
- HGTV aired a promo for the reboot of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ featuring out host Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
- Microsoft: Out 49ers coach Kate Sowers shared her powerful story
- Olay: Lilly Singh, bisexual host of NBC’s A Lilly Late with Lilly Singh, and the host of the GLAAD Media Awards in New York on March 19
- Pop Tarts: Jonathan Van Ness, non-binary star of Netflix’s Queer Eye
- Sabra: Drag queens Kim Chi and Miz Cracker, alumna of VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
- Tide: Emily Hampshire, star of Schitt’s Creek, who spoke to The Advocate last week about being pansexual
- TurboTax: Transgender actresses Trace Lysette (“Transparent,” “Hustlers). and Isis King (When They See Us), as well as other LGBTQ members of the ballroom community
- Under Armour: Kelley O’Hara, a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, who famously kissed her girlfriend after winning the World Cup
Despite pressure from the so-called One Million Moms group, the NFL and Fox Sports did not pull the Sabra ad featuring drag queens. As we reported, GLAAD launched its own petition calling on the American Family Association and 1MM’s executive director, Monica Cole, to call it quits. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the American Family Association as a designated hate group for its anti-LGBTQ activism.
The President’s Deleted Tweet
President Trump tweeted congratulations to the Chiefs and to... “The Great State of Kansas”?!? As SB Nation reported, that tweet was deleted and replaced in a matter of minutes, without any comment or apology, but not before a whole lot of people screencapped it for posterity.
That's all right, I screencapped it. pic.twitter.com/sHfrsWZLXj— David Brown (@AnswerDave) February 3, 2020
Despite what the name might suggest, Kansas City is actually in Missouri. Currently, there are no NFL teams based in Kansas. Last week, it was reported the president did not know who was playing in the Super Bowl. It’s apparent his attention was likely focused elsewhere.