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by Mick the Ram
Super Bowl LVIII was a spectacular event, and in keeping with the all glamour and showbiz that has engulfed this years series seemingly more than ever before, there was a thrilling overtime victory for the Kansas City Chiefs, who came from behind to defeat the San Francisco 49ers.
In the dramatic surroundings of the Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, the Chiefs were trailing in normal time, but scored in the last minute to take the game into the extra play, and then after their opponents took the lead once more, they hit back to seal a dramatic late win.
It means that the Chiefs retain the title after their success last year, clinching their third Super Bowl in the last five years and also became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the New England Patriots did so, back in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Patrick Mahomes was the star of the show, but inevitably Travis Kelce hogged the limelight because of his relationship with global superstar Taylor Swift, who was in attendance after flying back from Japan where she had performed the night before.
It is the couple’s romance that has generated arguably more interest than ever before, with the US television audience expected to have eclipsed the record 115 million from last year.
Countless stars assembled in the crowd, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Gwen Stefani, and Paul McCartney, along with many more. For several, it was the half-time show that attracted their attendance, in which Usher put on a hit-heavy performance, backed by Alicia Keys and Will.i.am.
For genuine football fans the celebrity element, whilst inevitable, has been an unwelcome sideshow that has detracted somewhat from the real stories on the field and a great sporting occasion.
Late drama seals victory
The 49ers came into the first Super Bowl held in Las Vegas as the slight favourites, in a game that developed into a defence dominated clash, in which there were far too many errors.
The Californians opened the scoring with a field goal at the start of the second quarter and led 10-3 at half-time. With the score at 16-13 well into the final quarter, a Jake Moody kick for an extra point proved crucial, when it was successfully blocked.
It meant a tie was still possible for the Chiefs and they duly obliged with Harrison Butker’s fourth field goal, made by Patrick Mahomas. At 19-19, overtime saw the 49ers regain the lead, but that man Mahomas wasn’t finished and it was he who sent the touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman to take the score to 25-22 in favour of Kansas, which proved to be the winning score.
At 28-years-old, Mahomas has become the sixth quarterback in NFL history to win three or more Super Bowls. He was named the “Most Valuable Player” for a third time and also became the first to win the award back-to-back, since Terry Bradshaw did so all the way back in 1979 and 1980.
For the 49ers it was heartache. They remain five-time Super Bowl winners, but have now lost in the big game three times since their last NFL title in 1995.
There was no getting away from the “Swift effect” with the cameras appearing to be trained on her and other celebrities in the crowd, more than the actual field of play.
At the end of the contest the singer, who had navigated a 12-hour flight back to the US from Tokyo, joined Travis Kelce pitch-side and shared an embrace, which was captured and shown right around the world.
Whilst her involvement this year has not been met with wholesale approval, there is no doubt that the she has swelled the sport’s audience, especially among young women, reportedly boosting the brand value of the NFL and the Chiefs in particular, by $331m.
Indeed, sales of Kelce’s Chiefs replica jersey exploded with a massive 400% hike, after news broke of the relationship developing.
Those new fans, along with an A-list gathering, were treated to a half time show has evolved into what is now a concert in its own right. Usher went on to deliver a dynamic performance in which the R&B superstar managed to squeeze 30 years in to 13 minutes, blasting out a string of hits.
Pride from star player
Speaking after the game Chiefs quarterback Mahomes praised his team’s defence, before saying how proud he was of his teammates. “The whole game was just a microcosm of our entire season. I know we’re going to celebrate tonight, but we’re not done, as we’ve got a young team and we’re going to keep this thing going,” he ominously declared.
Going for a third
The final word went to Kelce, who acknowledged his girlfriend’s influence on this year’s Super Bowl, and admitted he had been carried along with the sideshow throughout the build up, but did turn the focus back onto the main event.
The 34-year-old Tight End said: “Man, I was fired up – I was fired up that we weren’t hitting on all cylinders,” before adding: “We’ve been fighting for this all year with the goal always being to get three in a row, but you can’t do it without getting two and we’ve had a target on our back all year. We get a chance to do it all again next year, so I’ll see you there. Viva Las Vegas!”