After a long discussion, the officiating crew decided to penalize Josh Allen and Alex Okafor for unsportsmanlike conduct, while flagging Jon Feliciano and Dion Dawkins for unnecessary roughness. The penalties all offset. The Bills kicked a 51-yard field goal with 3:19 remaining, locking in the Chiefs’ 38-24 victory.
Some Chiefs fans were puzzled why a single penalty on a Kansas City player and three on Buffalo players would offset — especially since the two Buffalo offensive linemen had initiated contact with Okafor.
Apparently the NFL now agrees. According to reports from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, all three Bills players have been fined for their roles in the incident.
On Monday, we learned the Chiefs’ star quarterback had moved up significantly on a very exclusive list.
In Gregg Rosenthal’s list of 63, Tom Brady, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino rank at the top, while Trent Dilfer, Vince Ferragamo, Tony Eason, David Woodley and Rex Grossman sit at the bottom. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes now ranks 19th, having moved up from the 30th spot in his first appearance on the list before Super Bowl LIV.
This moves him from Rosenthal’s Fun to Watch tier (26th through 33rd) into his In (or should be in) the Hall of Fame tier (13th through 25th). Mahomes departs the group including Donovan McNabb, Daryle Lamonica, Steve McNair, Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon in order to join luminaries like Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly and fellow Chief Len Dawson.
Then — almost a year after it happened — the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator gave more details about what has become one of the most famous moments in franchise history.
“Me and Coach Reid, we’re talking on the headsets,” Bieniemy said. “We’re talking about different plays. Coach is giving me a play, a suggestion. I’m talking to Pat, and Pat says, ‘Hey, you know what? Do we have time to run Wasp?’ I said on the headset, ‘Coach, he likes Wasp.’ And coach is like, ‘Well hell, if he likes Wasp, let’s run it.’”
In Bieniemy’s account, Reid is making a suggestion to him before Mahomes speaks. While this doesn’t disprove that Reid has final approval on all offensive plays, it does imply a more open play-calling conversation between the head coach and his coordinator than many fans assume.
Bieniemy shared more about the sideline moment.
“I say to Pat, ‘Look, you got it. We have time. You just make it happen.’ That’s the great thing about Pat. When Pat wants to run something, we don’t restrict him from anything, but when you instill that confidence in your players, and you give him that ability to suggest a play like that, you know that he’s gonna find a way to make it happen.”
On Tuesday, Kansas City’s head coach talked about what drives his approach to coaching.
“I think we all want to be treated a certain way,” he said. “If not, I know how I like to be treated: ‘Tell me what I need to do to get better at what I’m trying to get accomplished.’
“You don’t necessarily have to yell and scream at me to get me to do something better; I don’t think that’s necessarily the best approach. And I think after a little while, I know [that] I would just turn that person off and not listen to anything they said.
“So I kind of go about it that way. I just try to treat people the way they want to be treated. Whether it’s through what I’ve learned in church or family, I think we’re here as teachers. And that’s what I do.”
On Wednesday, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach talked about how success and fame haven’t changed Patrick Mahomes.
“He’s still, ‘Yes sir, no sir’ to the coaches. He still treats people with the utmost respect. He knows that he has a responsibility that’s bigger than just football on Sundays — that people look up to him. He’s embraced that; he’s embraced all of these different obligations with the same type of humility and grace.”
And in Veach’s view, that makes him similar to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
“People are always talking about Andy never being too high or too low,” said Veach. “Pat’s always too high. He’s always energetic and exciting — but similar in the sense that he’s always the same person: you’re not getting a Patrick on a Monday versus a Patrick on a Sunday. You’re getting the same person every day — a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. He loves being part of the gang — joking around, goofing around — but [he’s] so super-serious when it comes to study and being competitive on Sunday.”
Then Kent Swanson went through the film to see how the Chiefs might be able to help their makeshift offensive line in the Super Bowl.
The pressure last year in Miami was unceasing.
Mahomes was forced to exit the pocket and run for his life at an alarming rate. Even when he had time to throw, he was forced to alter his arm angle to find a completion. Fisher had a miserable time trying to handle premier edge rusher Nick Bosa — it was a mismatch that looked like a fourth-string tackle lined up over a good rusher.
The Buccaneers have a good front — but it isn’t what the Chiefs saw last year with Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas. All hope is not lost for this group despite the sizable loss of Fisher. There are things that the Chiefs can do to mitigate the struggles that seem likely up front on Sunday. There’s a blueprint — and the truth is they’ve already been utilizing it.
On Thursday, offensive line coach Andy heck addressed the same problem.
“You just approach it with a mentality that it doesn’t matter if you’re playing left guard or right tackle. There’s only a certain number of blocks you’ve got to make — whether you’re reaching a guy right, reaching a guy left or pass-protecting a guy who’s head-up inside-outside. You’re making the same blocks no matter what position you are. And then in terms of handling stunts and things like that, that’s a challenge for any offensive line.”
But Heck believes these reserve players will be up to the task.
“Our guys — over the course of the season, and [in] some cases years — have seen just about everything that you can throw at them,” he noted. “They can draw upon past experiences. Even if they’re playing next to a guy they haven’t played next to the previous week, there’s still a continuity there from training camp on through the season. So our guys, I feel like they play as one no matter where they’re at. They have that continuity.”
And then the head coach talked about his defensive coordinator’s impact on the team.
“He’s got a great feel for the game,” said Reid. “We bounce things off of each other all the time. That’s important. His experience is very valuable to the whole offensive staff. Listen, we all love talking football, so it’s an easy conversation.”
Spagnuolo has the admiration of defensive players like Tyrann Mathieu, too.
“First and foremost, I think he’s a great man,” said the Chiefs safety on Wednesday. “I think he has a great heart — and above all that, he’s one of the greatest teachers I’ve been around. So detailed, so informative. Not only are you going to know what you’re doing, but you’re also going to know why you’re doing it.
On Friday, two Buccaneers and one Chief were listed as questionable for the championship game.
Running back Le’Veon Bell (knee) is good to go for the Super Bowl after missing the AFC title game against the Buffalo Bills.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) is the only Chiefs player listed as questionable. Watkins has not played since Week 16 — but it is a positive that he was able to get a full practice in on Friday.
Andy Reid on Watkins: “He did good. I’m encouraged to have him on Sunday. I think he’ll be there.”
After answering the last question of a long media session — in a week filled with them — the Chiefs’ wide receiver wanted to make a final point.
“I just got one more thing to say,” he said, leaning into the camera. ”Last night, I tweeted something from a Bible verse... This Bible verse really spoke to me last night while I was doing Bible study with my girl. It says, ‘Present sufferings with the hope of future glory.’ Man, let that sink in your heart before you guys go to sleep tonight — or just go do what you’ve got to do. The Cheetah is out, man!”