Chiefs' Frank Clark calls out 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 'We knew to challenge their check downs'

Super Bowl LIV was a game of runs. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were tied at halftime, but Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. controlled the third quarter. The 49ers scored 10 unanswered points to acquire a double-digit lead, and had all the momentum entering the final 15 minutes. Patrick Mahomes owned the fourth quarter, however, as the Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points to complete the come-from-behind victory.

Kansas City flipped the script quickly. After the Chiefs scored their first points of the second half with just six minutes remaining in the game, Garoppolo gave the ball right back to the Chiefs with a quick three-and-out. Two minutes later, the Chiefs scored again and took the lead for the final time. 

While the Chiefs' offense is going to get the credit for winning this game, the defense did a nice job locking up Garoppolo in the late stages as well. The 49ers' last three possessions resulted in a three-and-out, a failed fourth-down conversion and an interception. 

After the Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game to punch their ticket to Miami, defensive end Frank Clark proclaimed that Kansas City had the best defense in the world. After the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night, Clark again took aim at his defeated opponent.

"We knew to challenge their check downs," said Clark. "You paying the guy $140 million, $130 million, whatever he's getting paid ... man, you gotta throw the ball, obviously he didn't do that. They threw for about 200 yards on check downs, that ain't enough to win the game against us."

Garoppolo completed 20 of 31 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on Sunday. While it certainly wasn't the most incredible performance, his 20 completions and 31 passing attempts were more than he had recorded in the previous two postseason games combined.

As for if Garoppolo relied too much on the check-down game, there isn't much evidence to support that. Garoppolo connected with eight different receivers in Super Bowl LIV, and six of those players recorded a reception of at least 12 yards.  

Of course, on the flip side of that argument, several check-down passes and a "push pass" to Deebo Samuel played a role in his total yardage and completion rate. Running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert recorded just one reception apiece, but Samuel did serve as more of the check-down option for Garoppolo. He was thrown a couple of screen passes and also carried the ball three times for 53 yards.

Still -- Garoppolo threw downfield more on Sunday than he has at any point over the past month, but it still wasn't enough to will the 49ers to victory.

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