Monday Morning Quarterback
Never in the 54-year history of the Super Bowl has Clemson had former players make such a big impact in the country’s biggest game as three former Tigers did in Kansas City’s 31-20 victory over San Francisco Sunday.
Sure, a few former Tigers have had some good games, but not the kind of impact wide receiver Sammy Watkins, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel had.
Watkins hauled in five catches for 98 yards, including a 38-yard reception late in the game that set up the winning touchdown, a Damien Williams’ 5-yard reception from Patrick Mahomes with 2:44 to play in the game. Watkins also made a 28-yard reception in the first quarter, the biggest play of the drive, which led to a Mahomes’ 1-yard run with 31 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Breeland was arguably the Chiefs’ Most Valuable Defensive Player. The former Tiger led Kansas City with seven tackles, including two for loss. He also broke up one pass, and his second quarter interception allowed the Chiefs to take a 10-3 lead with a Harrison Butker 31-yard field goal with 9:32 to play in first half.
O’Daniel was credited with just one special teams tackle, coming after the Butker field goal, which forced the 49ers to start from their own 20-yard line on the ensuing possession.
Clemson has had a couple of good performances before in past Super Bowls. Dwight Clark made a few key catches for the 49ers in their Super Bowl XVI win over Cincinnati. William Perry had a couple of tackles and scored on a 1-yard touchdown in Chicago’s blowout win over New England in Super Bowl XX. It is still the only Super Bowl in which a former Tiger scored a touchdown.
Grady Jarrett was unbelievable in a losing effort for Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. He sacked Tom Brady three times in the game, which is still tied for a Super Bowl record. Levon Kirkland played a great game for the the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX in a losing effort against Dallas, including a key sack on Troy Aikman that gave the Steelers an opportunity to win the game late.
But no former Clemson player made the impact Watkins and Breeland made Sunday night in a winning effort in a Super Bowl. Watkins was the most consistent wide receiver the Chiefs had all night. His ability to get open eventually opened things up for Tyreek Hill and others in the Kansas City offense.
However, it was Watkins’ 38-yard reception on the go-ahead touchdown drive that was the biggest play of the evening for the Chiefs. With 3:44 to play in the game and facing a second-and-seven from the 49ers’ 48, Watkins made a double move on San Francisco corner Richard Sherman, which allowed Mahomes to find him 38 yards down the near sideline to the 49ers’ 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Mahomes found Williams for the 5-yard game winner with 2:44 to play. Williams later had a 38-yard touchdown to seal Kansas City’s come-from-behind victory.
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