Having the title “Super Bowl champion” precede a player’s name cements them into a different class of legend for a particular franchise, no matter how long he was with the team or how he performed in previous games or seasons. If he made an impact on the tallest stage, fans will always remember him as as a hero who helped deliver the fanbase a world championship.
In the case of the 2019-20 Kansas City Chiefs, their 31-20 Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers was filled with individuals stepping up to significantly impact the game. You know about Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ epic fourth-quarter performance that propelled the offense to score 21 unanswered points — but a couple of his secondary weapons were the ones making the plays on the other side of his throws.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins made two critical catches at different points in this game. His most significant play was the fourth-quarter reception past 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman that went 38 yards to set up first-and-goal. His last catch of the night led to the initial lead-taking score to make it 24-21. Watkins talked about the play on the NFL Network post-game show.
“Man shoutout to Davante Adams,” Watkins said, showing respect to the Green Bay Packers wide receiver that saw Sherman in the NFC championship. “Watching him beat him on the post and beat him inside, Richard Sherman does not wanna let you outside, one of the best cornerbacks I think, top players in this league. I felt I had an easy release inside and I took my advantage on him, me and Pat just connected on a great play, he was too close to me. I didn’t pitter-pat at the line and play, I just played fast and depended on my speed and physicality. I made one of the biggest plays of the game.”
The play resulted in 98 receiving yards for the game — and 288 total for the entire postseason. That number set a franchise record for one playoff run and continues his streak of great play during this time of the year. In five career postseason games, Watkins has caught 24 passes for 464 yards — an average of 19.3 yards per reception with no game under 62 receiving yards.
There will be tough decisions to be made by both the Chiefs and Watkins’ representation this offseason. He may play elsewhere in 2020 — but Kansas City will always remember him as the big-play receiver that stepped up when it mattered most.
Running back Damien Williams
Another under-appreciated offensive skill player had an unforgettable performance. In fact, running back Damien Williams had a legitimate case for Super Bowl MVP. His 133 total yards and two touchdowns made championship game history.
Damien Williams is the first player EVER with 100+ rush yards, plus a rushing and receiving TD in a Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/tt3lMtXdbA— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 3, 2020
Williams’ two scores were the two most important of the night. The 5-yard touchdown reception gave the Chiefs the lead with less than three minutes remaining — but his 38-yard run to the end zone on the next possession was the moment that Chiefs fans began to accept that their team had ended the 50-year drought. NFL Network’s James Palmer asked Williams which play was more satisfying:
“Honestly, I wanna say running down the sideline and just sealing it,” Williams reflected on the morning after the biggest win of his life. “In that moment, a lot of people wanted me to go down and take the knee, just run the clock out but there’s no coming back from this. I’m putting seven on this board and we’re gonna seal the game.”
With the Chiefs’ rich history at the running back position — from Christian Okoye and Marcus Allen to Priest Holmes and Jamaal Charles — there hasn’t been a back that’s put up the postseason statistics that Williams has. He has 11 touchdowns in his five playoff games in Kansas City but will forever be remembered for his last score that prompted an entire fan base to begin celebrating.
While Williams’ run may have kicked off the city-wide party, it was a defensive play that truly sealed the deal.
Defensive back Kendall Fuller
Defensive back Kendall Fuller came up and aggressively intercepted a pass down the middle of the field with less than a minute on the clock. He made this play coming from the safety position, which is significant when you consider where Fuller was only four months ago.
A broken thumb forced Fuller not only to miss five games, but also lose his spot as the starting slot cornerback. The idea of re-signing Fuller seemed highly unlikely because he was underperforming in a contract year. Then, he returned to the field and began to see snaps at the safety position rather than cornerback. Eight victories later, Fuller attacks a pass from that new position and cements his legacy as the Chief that made the final play in the organization’s first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland
Another defensive back etched his name into the hearts of Chiefs fans forever. Veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland was instrumental in slowing down the 49ers offense early in the game. On the first defensive possession, Breeland made the first of his two tackles for loss on second down with 8 yards to go. That tackle set up the 49ers to fail on the following third down and settle for a field goal.
On the next drive, Breeland reacted to a pressured attempt to throw the ball away by 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and intercepted the pass on the sideline. The turnover may have only resulted in three points from the Chiefs offense — but both impact plays early on kept San Francisco from having an even bigger lead in the fourth quarter. He was also the team’s leading tackler for the game.
Breeland may only be a Chief for this one year in his career — but Chiefs fans will remember him fondly for his game-winning deflection against the New England Patriots in Week 14 and his interception that aided the slowing down of the 49ers offense. Both were key parts of this championship team’s story.
Will they be here for 2020?
Each of these players’ futures in Kansas City is in question to a degree. Williams and Watkins are under contract for 2020 — but both are reasonably expendable if the organization wants to go a different direction at their positions. Fuller and Breeland will be hitting the free-agent market. No matter what happens this offseason, these four Chiefs cemented their legacies as significant reasons why the 2019 Chiefs were able to win a Super Bowl.
It’ll be a long time before any of these players will have to pay for their own drink in Kansas City.
Which under-appreciated Chiefs star is most likely to be here in 2020?
This poll is closed
WR Sammy Watkins
RB Damien Williams
DB Kendall Fuller
CB Bashaud Breeland