On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs’ 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII began (and ended) with the usual suspects making plays for the team. Tight end Travis Kelce scored on the first drive with a great route to the red zone and taking full advantage of a locked-in Patrick Mahomes — who quarterbacked that drive (and the game’s final drive) to secure their second championship rings.
In that way, it looked a lot like the team’s Super Bowl LIV win after the 2019 season. But three years later — once you zoomed out to see the surrounding cast — there are many differences.
Instead of the lead running back finessing his way to a high-impact performance (like veteran running back Damien Williams four years ago), rookie running back Isiah Pacheco jackhammered his way to 76 rushing yards and a touchdown.
He didn’t get a game-deciding score like Williams did — but he was part of another game-ending celebration. In his post-game press conference, Pacheco shared that he and rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore gave themselves the honor of completing a Super Bowl tradition: dumping the Gatorade cooler on head coach Andy Reid.
“We looked and said, ‘It’s rookie duty today,’” smiled Pacheco. “It was a memorable moment for me and Skyy. I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life.”
It’s still not as memorable as Pacheco’s performance, which included a 24-yard run that set up an opening-drive touchdown. He also capped off the initial possession of the third quarter with a one-yard score.
That’s what Pacheco did with his 15 touches. His Gatorade-dumping partner in crime only had two touches — but one was a crucial touchdown. It was the first of his career — and the last of Kansas City’s championship season.
Skyy Moore: pic.twitter.com/3cguJDtIzn— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) February 13, 2023
“First of all, it means that people should start listening to me a little more,” Moore told WDAF-TV’s Harold Kuntz. “It means everything for my first touchdown to come in the Super Bowl. It means the world. “
On his score, Moore took advantage of a great play design — as did wide receiver Kadarius Toney on the previous possession prior. But veteran JuJu Smith-Schuster had to get knocked around a bit more to collect seven catches and 53 yards.
That may not sound like a lot. But three of those catches came consecutively on one possession from early in the final period. They gained total of 30 yards — and led to the go-ahead score.
“I’m not the type of guy who cares about stats, catches, who gets the ball and what-not,” Smith-Schuster told reporters after the game. “All I care about is winning. When you win, everyone is so happy. I’m glad I got the opportunity to make the plays I can for my team, and put us in position to win this game.”
Words can’t explain this moment! SUPER BOWL CHAMP!! pic.twitter.com/wroj5HQy0P— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) February 13, 2023
After years of impressive production with the Pittsburgh Steelers — but no postseason success — Smith-Schuster came to Kansas City for a legitimate chance to win his first NFL championship.
“I just thank all my coaches, my teammates, everyone around me for making this possible,” he said.
He led the Chiefs’ wide receivers in targets, receptions and yards during Sunday’s win — just as he did during the regular season — living up to the prove-it deal he signed in March.
Kansas City brought Smith-Schuster to town because of his talent — but it was head coach Andy Reid who figured out the best way to use his new players. Smith-Schuster’s physicality was perfect for tough catches between defenders, while Moore and Toney’s skills as open-field ball carriers made them options for jet sweeps and other quick-hitting throws.
While it was on display all season, it really came through in the most important moments — particularly in the second half of Super Bowl LVII.
After what could be his last game under Reid, Smith-Schuster praised the two-time NFL champion.
“He’s for the players,” said the veteran wideout. “He’s not the type of coach that will drive to abuse you. He’s going to help you — and put you in the best position possible to perform. Me and [Kadarius Toney] were hurt last game. All last week we did not practice — and he looked out for us... Andy Reid [is] for sure one of the greatest coaches to ever coach this game.”
Reid — along with Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce — are the cornerstones of the Kansas City offense. But in 2022, the newcomers around them were an essential part of the team’s second championship in four seasons.