It was very early in the Super Bowl telecast when my derriere closely followed by my torso found its way into the easy chair in front of the large flat screen allowing the ophthalmological portion of my being relatively easy access to the proceedings in Tampa. Sadly, that was the highlight of the experience.
As the initial period of play unfolded, my first thoughts involved the Chiefs offense and how it might be taking the multi talented Patrick Mahomes a bit longer than expected to find his rhythm.
Then, with the Chiefs trailing the Tampa Bay club 7-3 and Mahomes forcing errant passes under pressure, rookie Tommy Townsend, a punter kept on the squad at the expense of 15 year veteran Dustin Colquitt at the start of the season, shanked a 29 yard punt putting the home standing Bucs in terrific field position, this old man sensed that there might be “trouble in River City.” Unfortunately, that inkling was confirmed as the evening wore on and the high octane scoring explosions from the reigning champion Chiefs were rendered moot and punch less by the determined NFC Champions.
In retrospect, the lofty repeat championship expectations of the Chiefs might have been dealt a mortal blow by the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago when veteran O lineman Eric Fisher went down and out late in the AFC title game after suffering a season ending tear to his achilles tendon. Despite the thoughts of many casual football fans, top players are NOT interchangeable even if they are in the faceless group known as the Hogs. In the case of the Chiefs, losing Fisher and subsequently trying to replace key portions of that line, proved to be their undoing on offense.
The imposing Fisher, a 6’7” 300 plus pound tackle, and the Chiefs top draft choice in 2013 had the task of protecting Mahomes’ blind side and his absence was quickly seized upon by Tampa Bay allowing the Bucs the opportunity to “put the heat” on Mahomes and significantly disturb his comfort zone. The result was a stat, engendered by NextGenStats, which showed that Mahomes ran for 497 yards RETREATING from the onslaught of Tampa Bay defensive forces. Astonishing! …… And the old ball game in synopsis.
Kansas City should make a return to the Super Bowl next season and for years to come …. their talent is that good. But, this team must learn to play within themselves and make adjustments to opposing circumstances which will inevitably occur. The Chiefs can’t allow themselves to fall victim to on field irritations designed by opponents to disrupt concentration.