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Good morning! Shirts on when you storm the field by yourself, please.
And Still: The latest great American dynasty
Some classic games are memorable for a single flurry of moments. Others stay with us forever because we’ll never forget their sense of slowly rising tension.
Last night, when the Chiefs beat the 49ers 25-22 after nearly 15 full minutes of overtime, it was the latter: a game low on offense for long stretches (at times, our watch party was enchanted by both teams’ Big Ten-grade punt coverage) but filled with drama for the last hour or so. Of course, there was a bit of the former as well.
For those who had to get to sleep, here’s the game-winner. Even the guy who caught it, Mecole Hardman, might need the refresher, because he says he blacked out at the time:
THE CHIEFS ARE BACK-TO-BACK SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS! pic.twitter.com/ZzfhTyUXg9
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2024
Dynasty status: Very official. The first repeat champ since the 2004-05 Patriots, Kansas City has now won three of the last five Super Bowls. And given how beatable the Chiefs looked for much of the season, due to issues with complex football minutiae such as catching forward passes, this season sorta feels like everyone else missed their best chance to stop the train.
Andy Reid and Travis Kelce have already said they’ll be back to help Patrick Mahomes go for the NFL’s first Super Bowl three-peat.
MVP audit: Mahomes now has three of these trophies, tying him with Joe Montana behind only Tom Brady’s five. By raw stats alone — 399 total yards against one of the NFL’s five best defenses — Mahomes was the obvious choice, especially after he led the 13-play, 75-yard overtime drive that absolutely had to end in a touchdown, since San Fran had already scored.
Halftime act grade: You’re asking a native Atlantan to assess a performance that ended with Usher, Ludacris and Lil Jon on stage? I must recuse myself for objectivity. Impartial judge Levi Weaver ranks it just between The Weeknd and Lady Gaga on the all-time list, which feels reasonable.
Favorite commercial: On Jake Ciely’s list of them all, he crowns Patrick Stewart attempting to goad Tua Tagovailoa into throwing a child to the sounds of Creed as Halo’s Master Chief looks on. What a sentence. What a film. (I have to go with Michael Cera as a tech bro with a disturbing passion for human skin.)
Runner-up check-in: After yet another postseason near-miss for Kyle Shanahan — remember his list also includes a loss as the Falcons’ OC in the only other overtime Super Bowl — it’s fair to wonder whether the Niners will ever get over this hump.
Much more on this game to come, obviously. Robert Mays and Nate Tice reacted live and very late, Mike Sando ranks this KC dynasty in historical context and here’s a local football fan chugging a beverage:
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2024
News to Know
Caitlin Clark closes in
Just another day at the office for Clark – 31 points 🥱 – as she finished yesterday’s game at Nebraska just shy of breaking the NCAA women’s all-time scoring record, now needing only eight points to surpass former Washington star Kelsey Plum’s mark of 3,527 points.
Next up: Thursday at Michigan. Eight points to go. More here.
Tragedy in the running world
Kelvin Kiptum, who claimed the world marathon record in Chicago last year, died in a car accident in Kenya on Sunday, according to international track federation World Athletics. He was 24 years old. More on the tragic story here.
Surprise winner at WM Phoenix Open
Canadian Nick Taylor nailed an 11-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff to get the win in Phoenix, his fourth PGA Tour win. Phoenix is fun and has a great field, but the tourney has also been a mixed bag of great golf and super annoying fans. Thus, we’re also here for Billy Horschel as all of us cussing out drunk golf bro hecklers.
Yes, we have the update on the shirtless fan who ran onto the field at the Super Bowl.
Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly will have a hearing with the NHL’s department for player safety for his end-of-game confrontation with Ridly Greig on Saturday.
No Offseason: The biggest NFL storylines up next
The Super Bowl is over, which means we’re back to a 32-team league. Early 2024 odds are here, and here’s your post-Super Bowl mock draft.
So let’s talk 2024. For that, we brought in Friend of The Pulse™ badge-holder Mike Sando for some scene-setting on the offseason. Let’s go:
Kirk Cousins is the free agent to watch this offseason. Stays put, huh?
I’ll take him staying with the Vikings over the field because coach Kevin O’Connell wants Cousins, Cousins isn’t looking to relocate his family and there isn’t an obvious place for Cousins to push a team over the top. Denver is intriguing with Sean Payton, but the Broncos will be navigating Russell Wilson’s contract, which could affect their flexibility.
Draft vibes! Bears hold the No. 1 pick … their Week 1 starter is Justin Fields?
No way. GM Ryan Poles already traded away the No. 1 pick once to stick with Fields. I see no plausible way he does it again, based on what we’ve seen from the QB and based on what is known about the prospects in this draft. Fields will be in line for a pay raise sooner than later, which gives Chicago one more reason to hit the reset button at the position.
New coach you’re most intrigued by is:
Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), followed by Mike Macdonald (Seahawks). Harbaugh intrigues because he’s talking about Super Bowls while taking over a Chargers team in line for a roster reset. I’ll be super impressed if he has that team winning playoff games this coming season. Macdonald intrigues because he’s so young and seems open to new ideas, signaled by hiring offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who did a great job at the University of Washington but has never coached in the NFL.
Meet the man tasked with booking the winning Super Bowl quarterback for David Letterman. That time you landed Tom Brady when it was supposed to be Eli Manning? Well, you get the idea.
Alright, how did we do on all our prop bets? Here’s the final tally on what hit, from Reba’s perhaps surprisingly long anthem to Mahomes hitting an over that was discussed here.
Kyle Shanahan was facing plenty of questions after the game, but much of it was just strategy-related. Namely, he got into his decision to take the ball in OT.
Lastly on the big game, the president jumped into the conspiracy theory fun.
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(Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)