The real winners and losers of Super Bowl LIV
Happy hangover Monday, America – and this year, we earned it. After last year's across-the-board score between the Rams and the Patriots, we got a true game worthy of being called the Super Bowl as the Kansas City Chiefs dramatically came back to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20, and claim their first Lombardi Trophy since 1970 and Super Bowl IV.
Everybody knows that the Chiefs won and the 49ers lost, though. That's only a part of the unofficial national holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday. But who really won the big game? And who really lost? And who REALLY never needs to see or hear anything about "The Masked Singer" ever again?
Let's talk the real winners and losers from Sunday night:
Winner: Patrick Mahomes
For most of the game, the Chiefs all-star quarterback was on the losing side of the ledger. He was missing passes, threw two interceptions and generally seemed a little off, a bit too juiced up from the scathing Super Bowl spotlight and nowhere close to in rhythm. Down ten with only half a quarter to go, it seemed the sports talk storyline yelled on Monday would be "Is Patrick Mahomes ACTUALLY the future of the NFL?"
In less than ten minutes of game time, though, the narrative changed – and Mahomes went from a faceplant to the official face of the league. On a crucial drive, he hit receiver Tyreek Hill on a game-saving 44-yard bomb pass and led the Chiefs to an impressive comeback, turning a ten-point deficit into a comfortable 11-point win. Was it a vintage MVP-worthy performance? Not particularly. But was he the man at the helm of a gigantic clutch resurrection? Yep. And is he clearly the Steph Curry to the NFL's Golden State Warriors, the key cog to a team never out of any game because of its startling ability to rack up points in an alarmingly short amount of time? Most certainly. And now, like Curry, he's got a ring to prove he's as excellent as he is exciting.
Loser: Kyle Shanahan
The 49ers head coach is undoubtedly very good at his job – just ask the Green Bay Packers. But here are the facts: In his two Super Bowl appearances, as offensive coordinator in Atlanta and now with San Francisco, Shanahan has been at the root of two of the biggest choke jobs in Super Bowl history, getting outscored 40-0 in the fourth quarters of both big games (46-0 if you include the overtime against the Pats in Super Bowl LI).
Yet again, it's the same culprit: He abandoned the run when the team needed it most, passing the ball, stopping the clock and leaving behind a rushing attack that had gotten the Niners to this game – and to a ten-point lead – and gashed the Chiefs for more than six yards per carry. Obviously, the game is more nuanced than simple diagnoses – ESPN's Bill Barnwell, one of the best in breaking down football, does exactly that in going play-by-play and wondering where exactly Shanahan made bad play call in the final quarter. But even if he says Shanahan's clutch-time play calls weren't wrong, Barnwell still points out his mismanagement at the end of the first half could've cost his team on the scoreboard. So no matter how deep you want to get into analyzing the game, Shanahan's at the center of why his team fell short. Again.
Winner: Andy Reid
From his jolly demeanor to his Hawaiian shirts for all formal occasions and his gloriously inglorious quotes, everybody loves Andy Reid. Even his shortcomings – that he couldn't manage the clock, especially in the modern NFL, and that he'd never won the big game – were charming in a way, never bringing out anger but instead a sweet, somewhat chiding "Oh silly Andy" from those he'd disappointed. But there was no disappointment on Sunday. No "Oh silly Andy." And now no asterisk on his already impressive career – sixth all time in wins! – as he finally won the big game. And apparently a big cheeseburger.
Andy Reid's going to get the biggest cheeseburger he can find, might make it a double pic.twitter.com/BjTeYvtPsb— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 3, 2020
Never change, Andy Reid. And now that he's got the validation of a Super Bowl ring, he never has to. Everyone already loved Andy Reid; now the Hall of Fame has no reason not to either.
Loser: Father Time
This year's halftime show was a complete turnaround from 2019's snooze of a Maroon 5 performance that not even a shirtless Adam Levine could wake up. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's performance had boundless energy; a sense of effort and showmanship to put on a big, wild, memorable dance party; coherence as a show; and a sense of flavor, heat, emotion, engagement and even some edge to make the halftime show more than just a pitstop on the way to the second half.
The structure was a little odd; I personally left with the impression I'd watched a Shakira concert with bonus J.Lo as opposed to the other way around, but this isn't really a complaint – and it WAS Shakira's birthday after all. And it wasn't quite the full-on spectacle like Katy Perry or the Coldplay/Bruno Mars/Beyonce triumvirate, nor the musician's showcase of Prince, nor the Lady Gaga combination of the two. But it was energetic, engaging, surprisingly empowering without becoming preachy (shoutout to the sly "Born in the U.S.A." beat) and fun.
In the end, it was a total win for everyone involved ... except for Father Time, who got roundly defeated and insulted yesterday. Jennifer Lopez is 50 years old, and Shakira just turned 43. There were 93 total years on that stage yesterday – and you'd have no idea considering the vigor, energy and physicality dancing across it. Damn Father Time: Is Kyle Shanahan calling your plays?
Everyone learned a new favorite Scrabble word yesterday as Shakira busted out a "zaghrouta," a traditional Arabic vocal expression used during celebrations of all kinds throughout the Middle East, during the halftime show. Of course, for a good while, it was more famously known as "that vocal thing that many people thought was a weird turkey call and became a meme within milliseconds."
"How many licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop?"— dan 🍿 (@manieldad) February 3, 2020
Eventually, though, its true meaning made its way through the memes. So how about that: stripper poles AND an unexpected but valuable lesson about Arab culture. Truly J.Lo and Shakira's performance had it all.
Loser: Trying to escape the Patriots
Even when they're not in the game, the New England Patriots barge in to ruin everything. First there was BradyGate the week before the Super Bowl, with the quarterback posting a cryptic photo on Twitter seemingly nodding to his future football career and helping take all the attention away from the Media Day antics. (Maybe we should be thankful for that, though.)
But then it was Sunday and Chiefs versus 49ers, so clearly we wouldn't have to think about the Pats anymore. OR SO WE ALL GLORIOUSLY THOUGHT! Because dammit, there was Bill Belichick on the field during the pregame, flashing his Super Bowl rings and – most alarming of all – a smile. And DAMMIT AGAIN, there's Tom Brady trying to sell me Hulu – because of course that viral photo was actually just basically an ad.
Then, worst of all, Hyundai forced me to spend a whole minute and then some with a bunch of Bostonians. I don't care if they included Jim Halpert and Captain America: Boston fans are the world's most obnoxious, self-pitying and smug bunch on the planet – and I thought I would be freed of them and the Patriots for the first time in four years. I felt like Adam Sandler breaking down near the end of "Uncut Gems," just crying and yelling, "OH NO NOW THIS F*CKING GUY!? DO NOT LET HIM IN!"
At least I can think about the time Tom Brady likely ended his career in New England by throwing a pick-six to the Tennessee Titans.
Winner: This interaction
"Jeb it was FILTHY" pic.twitter.com/EOR9znsQCP— Marie Bardi (@mariebardi) February 3, 2020
I can't pick my favorite part of this Twitter interaction: Jeb Bush being just a little too excited about butts on his TV screen or "Tallulah River" being WAY too pearl-clutchy about it. I think it's Tallulah, who thinks she watched "Girls Gone Wild" because she saw half a butt cheek and a stripper pole. Relax Roxane.
Loser: FOX's comic book graphics
FOX's newly revealed scoreboard bug yesterday looked good: small, clean and centered, with lots of stats without becoming busy. I could do without the massive down and yardage superimposed on the field – especially since that info is already on the graphic – but overall it was a good look.
The Marvel Lite comic book illustrations for the players, though? Less so. The vibe was less "cool superheroes" and more "we forgot to take photos of the players so we got Wes from the creative department to sketch some doodles instead." The vibe felt very knock-off Super Bowl as opposed to, you know, the actual Super Bowl – and worst of all, they clearly only made the graphics for the expected stars of the game. So when 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk scored, he got low-key insulted by not getting a cartoon avatar. Maybe he should be happy, though, that he didn't look like one of those corporate giveaway comic books in which our heroes defeat plaque aliens with the power of Colgate toothpaste.
In conclusion, keep the new scoreboard graphics but ditch Wes from creative and his comic book cartoons.
Winner: Celebrities in commercials
In recent years, Super Bowl ads seemed to turn away from the big star-studded commercials for more high-concept ideas and heartfelt emotional pleas. That time, though, seemed to come and pass, judging by the Super Bowl slate on Sunday, as seemingly every single ad had a cast that most Hollywood blockbusters could only wish for. Charlie Day! Ellen! Jimmy Fallon and John Cena! MC Hammer and Post Malone! Chrissy Teigen and John Legend! Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch, John Krasinski and David Ortiz! Martin Scorsese and a very disinterested Jonah Hill! Anya Stark singing "Let It Go" ... for some reason. (Come on, Audi, parents were JUST NOW recovering from that song!)
The only problem: When every ad seemingly has a celebrity of five in it, the celebrity cameos lose their effect. After a while, I got numbed to the march of celebs on screen and stopped caring, much less differentiating which starry spot was for what company or product. A few with clever concepts stood out, but it was a lot of celebrities for the sake of having celebrities – bad for the brand's awareness but good for the actual celebs. They definitely got paid, that's for sure!
Loser: Corporate synergy
There was a lot of tacky pandering in some of the commercial flops of the Super Bowl. (Then again, we're talking about ads, which are the definition of pandering to the audience to begin with.) From TurboTax's dancing people (which clearly wanted to become A Thing) to Jonathan Van Ness shilling for Pop-Tarts to Bryan Cranston remaking "The Shining" for ... zero sugar Mt. Dew to the Maisie Williams singing "Frozen" because of a car, there was a lot of "Hello Fellow Kids"-ing and a lot a commercials that felt like ad execs sitting in an office blindly throwing darts at IMDB pages and Twitter trends.
That's to be expected, though. What's unique annoying are the commercials that come inside commercials like an advertisement "Inception." Tide's multi-commercial attack two years ago with Terry Bradshaw was new and clever, but this time around, with Charlie Day popping up in various ads throughout the game to ask if it was later yet, it felt tedious. Add in the random fellow brands popping up and interacting together (the Bud Knight, Wonder Woman, etc.), it felt kinda gross and dystopian, like when a bunch of Twitter brands start tweeting at each other and commenting on posts like they're actual people and not snack foods or laundry detergent.
Tide was the most egregious of this type of brand synergy, but it was no means the only culprit – from Wal-Mart's barrage of Hollywood IP and carefully placed Tostitos bags (logo out, obviously) to The Kool-Aid Man and Mr. Clean mourning Mr. Peanut's demise. I don't like commercials where I can barely hear them over the boardroom of ad execs and marketing flacks high-fiving each other. I want to be goaded and tricked into buying things I don't need or want with a little more grace and tact, please.
Unlike Heineken's "Big Lebowski" ad from last year, Jeep managed to turn a great movie into a pretty fun commercial with Bill Murray happily embracing his locked-in-time fate thanks to a new truck that turned each day with Punxsutawney Phil into a fresh adventure. It was a funny remix of the original movie, with new jokes as well instead of merely reheated references, and a pretty clever way to get a message across about your car. Also: I never knew I wanted to hang out with a groundhog.
Loser: Baby Nut
Planters' Super Bowl campaign was everything insufferable and cynical about modern advertising. First of all, the whole "Mr. Peanut is dead" viral strategy running the week before was annoying and stupid. No one has heartfelt feelings for Mr. Peanut, so go ahead; kill him, roast him and mash him up into delicious peanut butter. Who cares – especially since this whole social media campaign was obviously IHOB-ing us and just waiting to resurrect him at the Super Bowl.
As it turns out, though, their actual plan was even worse than that, as during the big game spot, Mr. Kool-Aid's tears (SYNERGY! CUE ANOTHER AD EXEC HIGH FIVE!) watered Mr. Peanut's stupid grave and brought him back to life ... as Baby Nut. Welp, looks like some marketing flack overheard his kids talking about Baby Yoda recently! It's so predictable and plainly, grossly cynical – yes, even for an event that's mostly about gathering the family around the TV to watch advertisements for stuff. I don't care how cute he is: Turn Baby Nut into peanut butter too.
Also: #BabyNut? Come on, Planters; have you met the internet?
Winner: Just about all of the movie ads
Most film studios bailed on the big game this year (and considering a 30-second spot cost $5.6 million, who would blame them?), but the movies that did take the dive with a Super Bowl spot were rewarded with me wanting to pre-order tickets to each one of them.
The new "Fast and Furious" movie looks like the kind of physics-flipping-off action soap opera cartoon that we fell in love with – plus we're getting Justice For Han. "Black Widow" looks solid – even if I think the time for her character's movie was a five years ago or at least before you (*SPOILER ALERT FOR A MOVIE YOU'VE ALMOST CERTAINLY SEEN*) threw her off a cliff and killed her. The new Bond movie looks gorgeous and exciting, the jet sequences in merely the "Top Gun: Maverick" TV spot had my pulse raised, and despite live-action Disney remakes being the literal death of cinema and creativity, the new "Mulan" looks ... great? I like that they're seemingly making a new movie out of the source material instead of just going to Kinko's. All in all, I'm down for everything Hollywood had to offer during the Super Bowl.
OK, almost everything.
Loser: Bud Light Seltzer
This spot tells audiences that, when stuck deciding between Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer, why not choose both? Because I have self-respect – that's why not. I choose neither. Credit where credit is due, though: I can't completely hate an ad that beats up Post Malone. Also, at least this year's Bud Light campaign didn't cause the corn farmers of America to hate them. Small victories, I guess.
Of all the celeb-filled commercials during the Super Bowl, this Doritos spot featuring Lil Nas X and "A Star Is Born" actor Sam Elliott was one of the few standouts. One small gripe: HOW DOES SAM ELLIOTT LOSE THIS DANCE-OFF!? The man got his whole mustache to do the wave AND spanked his 75-year-old booty. #JusticeForSamElliott
Loser: Creepy skinny Jason Momoa
When I was a child, I was haunted by a music video for Robbie Williams' song "Rock DJ" in which the pop star dances for sexy roller-skating ladies and strips ... all the way down to his skeleton, eventually ripping off skin and muscles to the fawning models. Generally speaking, I try not to remember that creepy and gross nightmare fuel ... so thanks, Rocket Mortgage, for the PTSD-like flashbacks to that, with your unsettling ad featuring Jason Momoa getting comfortable at home by ripping away his fake muscles and abs to reveal he's actually a stick-thin man with a bad combover. Three horror movies have come out this year, yet none of them featuring anything as haunting or eerie as Aquaman peeling away his skin to reveal he's the frail, gaunt Pale Man from "Pan's Labyrinth" underneath. I have so many questions, like "Why did you do this to me?" and "What the hell does any of this have to do with Rocket Mortgage?"
A congratulations to the Sunflower State – not only do you apparently have a professional football team, but they just won the Super Bowl! What a day for America's midriff!
OH COME ON pic.twitter.com/69JdFZHqNt— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 3, 2020
There's going to be an annoyed tweet today campaigning to change the name of "Kansas City" to "Missouri City," isn't there. Or at least a news conference in which a map is Sharpie-ed to include Kansas City into Kansas. We live in the dumbest timeline.
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