Patrick Mahomes

Tipping Points: Super Bowl LIV

Kyle Shanahan's 49ers had a clear game plan for the Super Bowl. They wanted to run the ball on offense to take advantage of the Chiefs' No. 29-ranked DVOA run defense and limit the Chiefs' offensive possessions, and they wanted to rush the passer on defense to disrupt Patrick Mahomes' timing and ability to throw deep. Entering the fourth quarter, that plan was working. The 49ers were averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 7.9 yards per play. They had limited the Chiefs to just six possessions, a total Kansas City had exceeded in the first three quarters in all but two previous games this season. Their pass rush had sacked Mahomes twice and hit him on two other plays, holding him to just 1-of-3 on passes thrown more than 15 yards through the air. And that pressure seemed to affect Mahomes' accuracy and decision-making even when it didn't result in contact with the quarterback, a trend that culminated in a third-quarter interception that Mahomes threw right to linebacker Fred Warner standing in the passing lane. It all added up to a 20-10 lead and a 79.1% Game-Winning Chance (GWC) for the 49ers at the start of the final period.

By that point, the Chiefs had grown comfortable playing from a deficit. They had trailed in each of their previous two playoff wins this season by double digits as well. But that mental composure couldn't keep Mahomes comfortable in the pocket against a 49ers defense that knew he needed to pass to get the Chiefs back in the game. As Mahomes came out of a play-fake to Damien Williams from his 46-yard line, Dee Ford had already turned the corner on his front side. That chased Mahomes toward the left sideline and forced him to throw across his body, an awkward pass that Kwon Alexander nearly intercepted despite Mahomes' intention to throw the ball away. Mahomes had better luck on a quick throw to Tyreek Hill, who doubled the pass's 7 air yards with a run after the catch through cornerback Emmanuel Moseley along the left sidelines. And Williams did even better on the next play, catching a shorter pass but spinning around Alexander and side-stepping Moseley to gain 13 more yards to advance the Chiefs into field goal range.

Mahomes was surviving the pressure, but his second consecutive attempt to step up in the pocket sent him directly into the arms of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. That sack backed the Chiefs into a difficult second-and-19 at the 49ers' 36-yard line. Mahomes recovered, eluding both Buckner and Ford as he scrambled 13 yards into a third-and-6. But an inaccurate throw deflected off of Hill's right arm and into the hands of safety Tarvarius Moore.

With a 10-point lead with less than 12 minutes remaining and now with possession, the 49ers' GWC ballooned to 91.8%. It peaked two plays later at 94.5% after Raheem Mostert and George Kittle combined for 18 yards, the former crashing through attempted tackles on a run up the middle and the latter sliding to catch a play-action pass thrown low and behind him to avoid the closing safety Daniel Sorensen. But their offense sputtered from there. Chris Jones reached Mostert in the backfield and brought him down for just a 1-yard gain on the team's subsequent first down. Anthony Hitchens reached Garoppolo and forced a high and incomplete pass on second down. Tanoh Kpassagnon appeared to jump early on third-and-14, but it was blind-side pressure from Ford that forced Garoppolo to roll right out of the pocket. He continued to look for options downfield until the last moment, which allowed cornerback Rashad Fenton to shove Garoppolo to the ground among his displeased teammates on the 49ers sideline. But Garoppolo was prudent to tuck the ball and fall out of bounds, avoiding a repeat of the pressure-induced big mistake he had made with an interception at the start of the second quarter. This short run allowed Mitch Wishnowsky to punt and pin the Chiefs back at their 17-yard line, leaving Mahomes less than a 10% chance of a comeback win in the final nine minutes.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, Mahomes is an odds-beater. The 49ers pressure never fully dissipated, but a Chiefs move to a hurry-up offense helped Mahomes overcome it. After a short Williams gain to start their next drive, Mahomes scrambled left out of the pocket and ran for a first down. He just missed another first down on a completion to Hill that he threw a bit too low, forcing Hill to fall back for the ball and pulling him short of the markers. But Williams picked that up with another short gain. A false start erased those yards and put the Chiefs in an uncomfortable first-and-15 at their 35-yard line. That became second-and-15 when Moseley closed quickly to break up a short toss to Hill, and then third-and-15 when Hill pinned a low potential first-down pass against the ground rather than catching it. The Chiefs were in dire circumstances, on the verge of a punt, still down two scores with just over seven minutes remaining. But Mahomes avoided that fate, taking a shotgun snap, backpedaling another eight steps, and then heaving a 44-yard pass that fell into Hill's waiting arms. Hill had seen all four of Mahomes' targets on that drive, but that didn't prevent him from sprinting into the 49ers' third level and shedding safety Jimmie Ward with a fake inside and sharp cut to the outside, netting 10 yards of cushion that allowed Mahomes' rainbow pass to reach him before a defender could.

The 49ers defense rallied from their big mistake to bring pressure and force a pair of incompletions on first and second down from their 21-yard line. But the safety Moore never turned around to play the ball in one-on-one coverage on the much bigger Travis Kelce on third down. Kelce slowed his route to try to catch the touchdown, and Moore crashed into him, earning a defensive pass interference penalty. That advanced the Chiefs to the 1-yard line, where Mahomes connected with Kelce for a 1-yard score.

Suddenly with just a field goal lead, the 49ers were undoubtedly nervous. But with just over six minutes left in the game, they still could have ended things with an extended offensive drive. They look poised to do just that after Mostert went for 5 yards on a first-down carry. But Shanahan surprisingly called for passes on both second and third down. Chris Jones batted the former attempt incomplete, and a six-man blitz crashed into Garoppolo on the latter. He got the pass away, but it sailed over Kendrick Bourne, who was well-covered by Tyrann Mathieu in any case. That left the 49ers in a fourth-and-5 at their own 25-yard line. Garoppolo could have tried another pass, which would have improved the 49ers' GWC by 6.2% over a punt. But Shanahan had already bypassed several more obvious opportunities for beneficial, aggressive play calls. He remained conservative with a punt here, hoping his defense could hold the Chiefs one final time.

Five minutes was more than enough time for the Chiefs to score, but on the heels of the success of their previous drive, they started this next one in the no-huddle again. And Mahomes excelled again, completing passes for 5, 9, and 3 yards to Hill, Kelce, and Hill again to cross midfield. They huddled from there, attempting to drain some clock and prevent the 49ers from answering a Chiefs score with their own game-winning drive. But that quickly became moot when Mahomes dropped a 15-yard pass perfectly over the head of defender Richard Sherman, hitting Sammy Watkins in stride and allowing him to extend the catch for 38 total yards.

That completion advanced the Chiefs to the 49ers' 10-yard line. From there, Mahomes scrambled for 6 yards and out of bounds on first down and failed to scramble on second down, taking a hard hit and 1-yard sack from safety Jaquiski Tartt. But those plays did further drain the clock to 2:50, and the Chiefs again capitalized on third down with a 5-yard catch-and-touchdown-run that the running back Williams just reached over the pylon as his foot stepped on the right sideline. The referees ruled it a touchdown on the field, and the replays showed a play that was too close to overturn.

The 49ers finally ceded the lead they had held since their first drive of the second half, but the Chiefs only used 2:26 for that go-ahead drive, which left San Francisco 2:39 to author a comeback of their own. That effort was complicated by a perfect Harrison Butker kickoff that Richie James had to bring out from just in front of the end zone and led to him being tackled on the 15-yard line. But Mostert flipped the field position with a surprise carry on first down, which he swept right and then cut upfield for 17 yards to the 49ers' 32-yard line. Emmanuel Sanders gave back a few of those yards with a false start, but Garoppolo more than recovered them with 8- and 16-yard completions to Kittle and Bourne. But just past midfield, Garoppolo had a pass batted and another nearly intercepted. That put the 49ers in a third-and-10 with 1:40 remaining. Mahomes had excelled in the Chiefs' critical third downs, and Garoppolo had a chance here with Sanders streaking past the Chiefs coverage and a two-step cushion. Garoppolo saw the opening and unloaded a deep attempt, but it fell futilely incomplete 5 yards in front of Sanders.

That missed opportunity didn't fully end the 49ers' chances, but it may as well have. Shanahan had no choice but to leave his offense on the field for fourth-and-10, but Garoppolo never got that pass off. Frank Clark wrapped him up and drew a whistle for the sack as Garoppolo tried to unload a desperate, two-handed toss. The turnover on downs didn't fully end things either since the 49ers had all three of their timeouts to stop the clock. But Williams made those useless with a second-and-6 carry that he turned around the left corner. The safety Ward took a bad angle for the tackle, but even a better one would have left Williams with a first down and allowed the Chiefs to kneel to ice the game. Instead, Williams avoided the contact and ran untouched into the end zone for his second score and an 11-point Chiefs lead.

The 49ers had just over a minute remaining but no real chance of overcoming their two-score deficit. Garoppolo made an effort of doing so with a deep toss down the middle, but cornerback Kendall Fuller secured it for a game-ending interception.

Still scarred by the Falcons' 28-3 Super Bowl collapse against the Patriots when he was their offensive coordinator, Shanahan will undoubtedly hear criticism for the 10-point lead his 49ers blew on Sunday. It was just the third time in Super Bowl history that a team had rallied from 10 or more points behind to win in the fourth quarter.

10-Plus-Point Fourth-Quarter Comebacks, Super Bowl History
Season Team Opp Trailed Trailed By Result
2014 NE SEA 24-14 10 W 28-24
2016 NE ATL 28-9 19 W 34-28
2019 KC SF 20-10 10 W 31-20

But apart from some poor clock management at the end of the first half and a handful of conservative calls on fourth downs that few teams besides the Ravens and Eagles would have even considered attempting, Shanahan coached a good game. His creativity in using receiver Deebo Samuel out of the backfield led to a handful of big first-half plays, and that plus a play-action heavy passing attack led the 49ers to outproduce the Chiefs' No. 1 weighted DVOA offense 6.5 yards per play to 5.3 (5.8, if you remove Mahomes' end-of-game kneels). The 49ers also forced a pair of interceptions as well as three fumbles; they just never had the fortune to recover any of them (they did recover one fumble of their own, on a muffed punt return in the first half). Perhaps if they had done that, had made one more critical third-down stop, had not seen Kittle flagged for offensive pass interference on a 42-yard catch at the end of the first half, or had completed Garoppolo's deep overthrow of Sanders in the fourth quarter, they would have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy instead of the Chiefs.

From my perspective, the Chiefs deserve far more credit for their comeback win than the 49ers deserve blame. The Chiefs' move to and continued reliance on the no-huddle mitigated the effectiveness of the 49ers pass rush that had disrupted Mahomes all game, and Mahomes overcame the pressure when it still reached him with a number of scrambles, deep completions, and third-down conversions in the fourth quarter. Andy Reid landed in more obvious down-and-distances to be aggressive with his offense, but he still deserves credit for calling runs on a pair of fourth-and-1s in the first half. In part because of that good play calling, Reid removed his name from the list of best coaches to never win a Super Bowl. And in a league that -- Patriots aside -- has been defined by its heavy turnover, his Chiefs, led by their league and now Super Bowl MVP Mahomes, look like the favorite to win it all again next year and maybe all decade.


55 comments, Last at 09 Feb 2020, 8:41pm

1 That left the 49ers in a…

That left the 49ers in a fourth-and-5 at their own 25-yard line. Garoppolo could have tried another pass, which would have improved the 49ers' GWC by 6.2% over a punt.

Up 3 late within the opponent's FG range, GWC thinks going for it on 4th-5 is a 6% better risk than punting?

That's cracked.

12 That does seem nutty.  Is…

That does seem nutty.  Is there some Bayesian math in there?  Even if so, I feel like it must have thought the Chiefs' offense at that point in time was off the charts to get to those GWC figures.

2 "Hill had seen all four of…

"Hill had seen all four of Mahomes' targets on that drive, but that didn't prevent him from sprinting into the 49ers' third level and shedding safety Jimmie Ward with a fake inside and sharp cut to the outside, netting 10 yards of cushion that allowed Mahomes' rainbow pass to reach him before a defender could."

That play is a great example of why treating plays as independent objects from a strategic point of view is probably flawed. The reason Hill ditched Ward so easily there is because they ran the exact same play earlier... except Hill kept going right at him. So Ward stayed home because that's what he thought the play was.

3 I wonder if that was a blown…

I wonder if that was a blown coverage and Ward thought he had help on the outside.  Ward turns his hips away from the far sideline despite being all the way in the center of the field, an odd thing to do when you are responsible for the far part of the field where Hill ended up.  

5 I think it was just good…

I think it was just good play design, knowing they were going to be in zone on that side and having an underneath route draw off the coverage. I think Ward guessed it was going to be what he'd seen both on film and earlier in the game, and it burned him.

6 Of course it's blown…

Of course it's blown coverage, but it's blown coverage because they ran the exact same formation/route tree earlier in the game and Hill continued straight at Ward, so Ward committed a bit early.

From FMIA:

"So the Chiefs ran the play in the first half. “A set-up,” Kafka the quarterback coach said. Deep safety Jimmie Ward, in the first half, saw Hill run right at him. And so midway through the fourth quarter, with the same play-call and same formation, Ward obviously assumed Hill was coming at him again. With Watkins running a short in-cut and Kelce idling through the middle to attract attention, Hill sprinted at Ward.

Then Hill cut to the corner. Ward wasn’t ready for that."

FMIA also has the play as Reid drew it up, showing both of the routes that were run (mirrored in the play, obviously).

8 I was wondering why the…

I was wondering why the linebacker #54 did not at least try to get a hand on Hill on that 44yd pass.

More importantly, why was FOX using caricatures of the players in their graphics instead of actual photos?

9 "the Chiefs deserve far more…

"the Chiefs deserve far more credit for their comeback win than the 49ers deserve blame."

This. At times, KC's offense seems more like a force of nature than a football team. But, at the same time:

"Chiefs, led by their league and now Super Bowl MVP Mahomes, look like the favorite to win it all again next year and maybe all decade"

Some recency bias here. It wasn't all that long ago that the Ravens had some enormous statistical likelihood of winning the Super Bowl, right on this website. Then, the Patriots spit the bit against Miami, giving KC a week off, and the Titans went on a hot streak and did the Chiefs a favor by eliminating the Patriots and an even bigger favor by inducing Baltimore to play like mere mortals, before coming back to earth and showing how hard it is to win three games playing against the other best teams in your conference. Kansas City absolutely earned their playoff victories and their Super Bowl title, but at the same time fortune was not exactly conspiring against them. We see a deserving SB champion and think they will be unbeatable, but all it takes is a little bad luck, a key injury or two, a player suspended for some transgression, a player deciding that Antonio Brown is a great role model, Lamar Jackson maturing into an even better player, or some combination of those factors, and the superiority that we see now (and did not, by the way, see for three quarters of yesterday's game) will prove somewhat transient.

10 The Titans didn't do KC a…

The Titans didn't do KC a favor by knocking out the Patriots. I think the Chiefs would have handled the Patriots much better. The Titans did KC a favor by giving them a taste for the kind of game they might expect from the 49ers. A win over the Patriots might have left KC less prepared for the 49ers.

13 You don't even have to go…

You don't even have to get that creative in ways it can be derailed.

In January (EDIT: February) 2011, the Packers were coming off a Super Bowl victory behind an MVP performance by 27-year-old Aaron Rodgers, and it looked like they were primed to be the team of the decade.  It didn't take any random suspensions or really anything particularly crazy for them to go without another Super Bowl over the next nine years.

14 I'd argue it took some…

I'd argue it took some pretty crazy stuff to take them out in 2014 (think they match up better against the Pats than the Seahawks with their injuries at the time did).  Could make a case for them in 2015, too, though they'd have been significant underdogs in Carolina even if they had advanced (Rodgers, like Peyton and Brees, has had his share of bad-luck, snakebitten playoff losses) 

18 Fair enough, but even if the…

Fair enough, but even if the crazy 2014 NFC Championship stuff goes the other way and the Packers then beat New England, having "just" one more Super Bowl win is a far cry from being the team of the decade.

43 2015?

What's the bad luck exactly in 2015? If anything, they were supremely lucky to be in the position to take Arizona to OT.

That Carolina team probably hammers them in the title game.

15 The advantage KC has is they…

The advantage KC has is they play in the AFC, and Manning is gone and Brady and Roethlisberger have 1.5 feet in the grave. Someone has to win that conference.

It's looking like it's Mahomes or Jackson for the foreseeable future. Watson is good enough to get there, but he has to drag O'Brien along with him, and he's not Harrison Bergeron.

17 True, but heading into the…

True, but heading into the 2011 season what did the NFC look like?  Brees was around, but otherwise, the next best QB was... Matt Ryan or Eli Manning, I think.  It's not like people looked at the conference and saw other juggernauts.

20 Sure, which is why, in…

Sure, which is another reason why, in February 2011, the defending champion Packers, who had an elite QB, were prompting people to say they would be the team of the decade.

24 People who fundamentally did…

People who fundamentally did not understand the NFC.

Yes, SF had a prolonged period of dominance, followed by Dallas.

However, SF won titles behind two different QBs, and even Aikman had losses to Young and Erik freaking Kramer. Washington won titles with three different QBs (Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien), Phil Simms won two, and Jim McMahon got a ring.

You could win without an MVP QB in the NFC, and having one was no guarantee (Favre won one title, the same amount as Brad Johnson).

28 What does the NFC in the…

What does the NFC in the 1980's have to do with the state of it in the 2010-2011 offseason?  There's nothing fundamentally different about the two conferences that makes QB play more important in the AFC.

Regardless, the point is that nine years ago, the Packers looked very similar to this Chiefs team: they just won the Super Bowl and had an amazing young QB.  And they haven't even been to the Super Bowl since, and not due to any historically notable collapse or off-field events.  It would not be shocking at all if 2019 was the peak of the Mahomes-era Chiefs.

34 To be honest, NFC has one…

To be honest, NFC has one Baltimore... perhaps.  The Saints don't know who their quarterback is and are stuck near the cap, Minnesota and Seattle don't have anything resembling the Ravens' offensive line, and the Packers don't have a run defense. The Niners were the closest thing to the Ravens this year in the NFC, a dominant evenly balanced team.  But both of them lost.  Thanos is crying now.

54 Well the AFC has been like…

Well the AFC has been like that for a while now though. It's always so top heavy and most years only has 2 or 3 teams that could realistically win the conference. The NFC usually sees more random upsets and/or lower seeded teams that make deep runs. Even this year, sure the Titans went on a nice run but I don't think anyone expected anyone other than Balt or KC to be in the Super Bowl. 

21 Pretty soon, Mahomes is…

Pretty soon, Mahomes is almost certainly going to be consuming 16-18 % of their cap space, maybe even more, instead of the current 2.5%, and you combine that with any streak of unremarkable bad injury and/or draft luck, and all of a sudden the potential for cascading negative events becomes a possibility, instead of their current paradigm of substantial margin of error.


35 The only way that doesn't…

In reply to by RickD

The only way that doesn't happen is if the Chiefs can get him to marry a supermodel, like another quarterback we both know...


All joking aside, that's why dynasties are no longer likely to happen in the NFL anymore.  The Patriots' dominance is likely the last of its kind in professional football.  The next 'dynasties' will be more like the Red Wings or Devils in the NHL, which are weak sauce when compared to real dynasties like the 80's Oilers and Islanders, and the Canadiens teams from before.

25 The 16-18% price is less of…

The 16-18% price is less of a penalty if you have a guy who is worth it, instead of someone from the Legion of Fungible Quality.

The concern with the Chiefs is sort of like what ultimate hurt Reid in Philly -- he could not replace his game-changing safety and his receivers slowly became too expensive and not good enough. It took a very long time, but this eventually got NE, too.

27 Sure, it would be idiocy to…

Sure, it would be idiocy to not be willing to commit up to, hell, I dunno, 20%, or even more, of your cap space to Mahomes. But it still means that if you get what is really an unremarkable streak of  bad injury and/or draft luck,  you end up with too many holes in the dike, and not enough thumbs to fill them, and in 2030, you're saying "How the hell did we only win two championships?", or perhaps even  " I can't believe we only won the Super Bowl once!".

42 As a life-long previously…

As a life-long previously jaded beyond all realms of reality Chiefs fan, I'll take another decade of Mahomes eating up the cap surrounded by a marginal roster and take my chances over a more solid roster with an Alex Smith type at QB. They got a ring, and I'm good with one. Anything positive that happens from here on out is a bonus. Multiple SB victories would be nice, of course, but I'll accept one and die a happy man.

22 this also bothers me

"Chiefs, led by their league and now Super Bowl MVP Mahomes, look like the favorite to win it all again next year and maybe all decade"

I can take "favorite to win it all again next year".  As the reigning champions with a young core of players, they should certainly be among early favorites, but not far ahead of Ravens and 49ers.

"All decade" is nonsense.  I get so sick of this.  Really, it was less than a month ago that people were proclaiming the Ravens to be the next dynasty.  

Winning is hard.  Repeating is much harder.  Can we please stop proclaiming "most recent champion" to be "next dynasty"?  It's a claim that fails almost every time, especially in the NFL.  

If the Chiefs manage to repeat, they'll be the first team to do so since 2004.  And we've seen a lot of dominant teams let by young QBs since then: the 2006 Colts, the 2009 Saints, the 2010 Packers, and the 2013 Seahawks.  This year's Chiefs team wasn't even a #1 seed.  They weren't even favored to make the Super Bowl.  

And - get this, you  may not have heard this stat before - they trailed by at least 10 points in every playoff game.

That's not an indicator of future success.

I have little doubt Mahomes will have  a great career.  But I have tremendous doubt that the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl next year.  I'm not even sure they should be the pre-season favorites.  

I am certain they're not going to  win it "all decade".  This is the NFL.  Pretty soon Mahomes will be getting his second contract and the Chiefs will either have to pay him a lot of money that they won't be able to pay other players, or he'll leave KC for another team. 


37 A Patriots fan born 52 years…

A Patriots fan born 52 years ago was alive the last time the Jets won the Super Bowl.  They would have experienced a whole lot of losing before the current decades-long run.


No, my Jet fandom depends upon Herbert, or god forbid, Tua not falling to the Pats in the draft this year.

44 Agreed

Yeah, this rush to crown every Super Bowl winner as the next great thing is a bit nonsensical.

I'll admit the Chiefs have all the makings, but as someone previously noted in this thread, the exact same stuff could have been written about the Packers after winning in 2010.

We're discounting pure randomness, or the Ravens, or Joe Burrow being a superstar from Day 1 (or Day 2 given the ask here was to crown the Chiefs as favorites for Team of the 2020s), or Andy Reid hanging it up after 2020 or something like that. No one has any clue what the state of the AFC will be in 2024, let alone 2029. 

We hope Mahomes is playing, and playing great, but if you go back to 2014, Patrick Mahomes was a fairly nameless QB at Texas Tech, and Andrew Luck just took a bad Colts team to the AFC Title Game and had a 40 TD season. What odds could you have gotten then that by the end of that decade, this Texas Tech QB would be the best in the NFL, and the best young QB at the time would be retired?



STOP THE PRESSES! (Off topic but hope we will have an Extra Points on this)

The Jaguars have hired former San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke to be the director of player personnel.

"He had a lot of success during his time in San Francisco and has proven that he has a great eye for talent and constructing a team, so we're excited for him to be a part of the organization," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement.

In some universe this must be April 1st!

39 What does a director of…

What does a director of player personnel do, exactly?  Manage the scouting staff and assemble recommendations for the GM?

Lots of talented people get promoted out of their area of competency.  It's possible Baalke could be really good at this particular role.

40 Typically, the Director of…

Typically, the Director of Player Personnel is in charge of scouting all the players who are in the league already, so as to have a database with regard to informing acquisitions via trade, waiver wire, free agents, etc. It's a really important job, and the good ones can make a huge difference. The Vikings hsd two guys split the job from the mid 60s to the late 90s, a 30-plus year stretch of ridiculously cheapskate ownership, and they, along with great to good coaching, kept the team very competitive.

41 But...but  "a great eye for…

But...but  "a great eye for talent and constructing a team"?

Baalke just got (deservedly) FO's KCW General Manager of the decade for his mismanagement of personnel and terrible drafting.  This is going to go "really good"?

46 Worst team of the decade?

I'm guessing the Panthers are going to compete hard for the worst team of the next decade. Who are the competitors?

48 Jaguars seem like the…

Jaguars seem like the biggest competitor. Detroit seems mired in mediocrity rather than consistently awful, and the Bengals appear to be getting a great quarterback. That should be worth 4-5 games a year.
Oh, and whatever team that Gettleman is currently running into the ground.

51 I just noticed this. Look…

I just noticed this. Look at where Watkins goes OOB on his 38-yard catch. His foot is clearly down short of the 11-yard line; it looks like the ball has directly above his foot at the time so I believe the ball should have been spotted there.

The refs actually spotted the ball at the 10 so the Chiefs had 1st and goal. When Williams makes his 3rd down catch on the next series, it would appear that he at least would have the 1st down had the ball been spotted properly. Moot because it was ruled a TD and of course a better spot on the Watkins play might have changed all that followed. Still, this looks to me like a bad error by the refs.

53 Funny you mention that,…

Funny you mention that, because in real time I thought he was out around the 11- and was surprised when it was marked first-and-goal.

I don't recall the announcers saying anything about the spot and I then kind of forgot about it in the wave of events that followed.

That said, if that's the worst mistake the umpires made in the Super Bowl, it was a pretty good game for the officials.  I've been very down on the quality of NFL ref'ing this year and think they need a major overhaul starting with greater reliance on technology and more active and accurate booth reviews.  But the championship game at least appeared well-officiated.