There's plenty of blame to go around for how these games played out yesterday. Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field for three straight touchdown drives to open the game and then promptly turned into a pumpkin. Jaquiski Tartt dropped a can of corn that would make Luis Castillo blush. But stepping back from just yesterday to look at the landscape of the NFL over the last two decades, two men really separate themselves from the pack when it comes to choking away golden opportunities staring them dead in the face: Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan.
That first stat at the top is jarring to read. Two separate 21-3 home leads blown at Arrowhead over a five year span. Three (3) total points scored over four second half quarters, all of which were scored on the last play of yesterday's tilt against the Bengals. The Chiefs also held a lead against the Patriots at home with two minutes remaining in the AFC Championship three years ago before ultimately losing in overtime. They also got their shit pushed in by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year in the Super Bowl in a game that was never competitive, largely in part to a beleaguered Chiefs' offensive line. We talk about Mahomes in the context of, "Wow, it's incredible this young guy has been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time, what an incredible start to his career." And that should be the conversation, even after yesterday's putrid second half. But these windows don't stay open forever. These were golden opportunities, excluding the '18 collapse when Alex Smith was still running the show, and the Chiefs only have one Lombardi to show for it.
And the only reason the Chiefs have that one Lombardi is because Kyle Shanahan was on the opposing sideline that day. There he stood, in the fourth quarter, with a double digit lead. A place he has become all too familiar with. The offensive coordinator who refused to run the ball in the waning moments of the 28-3 Super Bowl. The head coach who couldn't hold a 10-point fourth quarter lead against Matthew Stafford, who was 0-4 in such scenarios this season.
And the head coach who blew a 20-10 lead against Andy Reid on the largest stage the game offers. While the Chiefs have blown the majority of Mahomes' first window, the 49ers very much thought their window was shut when they parted with three first round picks to trade up and draft Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. Shanahan played Jimmy, got through the regular season, and found himself in the same position he always finds himself: minutes away from glory without a clue how to get there. Jaquiski Tartt dropped an interception, Jimmy G threw a ball backwards for an interception, those things aren't specifically his fault, but the situations that led to those plays most certainly are. 4th and two, a shade under 10 minutes left in the game, in plus territory, Shanahan elected to punt. The Rams marched down the field and tied the game.
Scared money don't make no money. And while I can sit here and parse through Jimmy's shortcomings or Tartt's feet for hands, it's downright inexcusable to scheme Deebo Samuel out of the game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. He did the same thing with Julio Jones in the Super Bowl: four targets, four receptions. Deebo touched the ball 11 times yesterday for 98 yards and a touchdown. I understand the defense is keying in on your best players, but that didn't stop Joe Burrow from getting the ball into Ja'Marr Chase's hands during the Bengals comeback. That didn't stop the Rams from feeding Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, Jr. 25 total targets. A genuine offensive genius should be able to figure out how to get his best player the ball when it matters most, and Shanahan outright refuses to even try.
They're really good coaches, they don't deserve to be fired or anything drastic like that. But after watching them come up short time and time again, you're left to wonder if one could ever win a Super Bowl if they weren't coaching against the other. There certainly isn't an evidence to say that they could.