If he wasn’t already, Patrick Mahomes established himself as the face of the Kansas City Chiefs franchise — and perhaps the face of NFL quarterbacks as a whole — with his performance late in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Down 10 and facing third and 15 midway through the fourth quarter, Mahomes found wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a 44-yard pass that basically saved the day, as the Chiefs would score a touchdown on the drive and then two more to seal their 31-20 victory.
Mahomes was named MVP of the game in a vote that combined the choices of the 16 members of the Professional Football Writers of America who were on site to cover the game (80 percent) and an online fan poll (20 percent). But the player who scored those final two Kansas City touchdowns — running back Damien Williams — had a much stronger case.
To put it simply, Mahomes was pretty bad through the first 3½ quarters with two interceptions over a span of eight passes, one of them a laughably awful pass that went straight to 49ers linebacker Fred Warner.
“I hit him right between the 5 and the 4 [on his jersey],” Mahomes joked afterward.
The MVP finished with a 78.1 passer rating, his second-lowest mark of the season and the third-lowest of his career. It was also the third-lowest passer rating ever recorded by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (minimum 25 pass attempts), ahead of only the Patriots’ Tom Brady last year (71.4) and the Cowboys’ Troy Aikman in 1994 (77.2). Mahomes hadn’t thrown more than one interception in a game since Nov. 19, 2018, against the Rams.
Williams, meanwhile, scored those two crucial touchdowns and finished with 133 total yards (104 rushing and 29 receiving). He averaged 6.1 yards per carry against a 49ers defense that allowed opponents to rush for only 4.5 yards per carry in the regular season and then held the Vikings and Packers to 2.1 and 3.9 yards per carry, respectively, in the playoffs. More than half of those yards per carry (3.5) in the Super Bowl were after contact, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus.
According to data from TruMedia, Williams had the highest expected points added total of the game. His performance added nine points more than expected after you consider the down, distance and field position of each of his opportunities. The entirety of those expected points added were the result of two fourth-quarter plays: his five-yard catch for a touchdown that withstood review (plus-3.4 EPA) and his 38-yard touchdown run with 1:20 left to play (plus-6.2 EPA). Wide receiver Sammy Watkins produce the second-most EPA in Super Bowl LIV followed by Mahomes (plus-5.8) and Kelce (plus-5.2).
Kyle Juszczyk led the 49ers with 4.5 expected points added on Sunday.
For comparison, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman led all players in expected points added in last year’s Super Bowl (plus-8.8), earning MVP honors.
Williams should have won MVP “simply because he was catching the ball out of the backfield when there was no throwing lane for any of the receivers. He was an outlet and did his job thoroughly,” 49ers running back Raheem Mostert said Monday morning on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
He even called his shot on the second of his two scores.
“He told us in the huddle, ‘I’m not going to be stopped,’ “ right tackle Mitchell Schwartz said of the second score. “He told us, ‘You guys do what you do, block and finish, and I’m going to [score].’ He literally called his shot. Unbelievable.”