LAS VEGAS, Nevada — All year, there was a consensus about the Kansas City Chiefs’ receiving corps: It wasn’t good enough. At least, the reasoning went, if Patrick Mahomes and Co. were truly serious about winning a second straight Super Bowl.
Turns out those concerns were not entirely justified. Because the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy again Sunday night, and their overlooked rotation of pass catchers came up big in the brightest spots, complete with Mecole Hardman sealing the championship with a walk-off touchdown catch in overtime — just the second extra frame of action in Super Bowl history.
Two years after saying goodbye to All-Pro speedster Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs got a combined 333 receiving yards from eight different players against the San Francisco 49ers. Mainstay Travis Kelce led the crop with nine catches for 93 yards, but anyone and everyone among the skill-position depth charts rounded out the production. Hardman also went for a 52-yarder on a downfield shot. Justin Watson had a 25-yarder toward the sideline. Rookie Rashee Rice emerged late with a key chain-mover. And Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who managed just 20 yards as the most proven deep threat, still scored K.C.’s first TD of the night.
In other words, this was a true group effort, and most importantly, there were no glaring mistakes. Mental miscues and untimely drops plagued the WR corps earlier this year, and Hardman was part of that. K.C. of course deactivated the polarizing Kadarius Toney, who had a hand in some of this season’s most headlining slip-ups, but the endgame is all that matters: The Chiefs are champions once more, and that means their setup at wideout was championship-caliber, even if barely.
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How much does Mahomes elevate the guys he’s targeting? That’s hard to quantify; he’s obviously one of the most accomplished — and clutch — QBs in NFL history, even at age 28. Certainly players seem to produce at higher clips with him as their signal-caller. But No. 15 couldn’t have won it all again without his supporting cast coming through. Perhaps the Chiefs will look to upgrade out wide this offseason. They probably should, if they intend to go for a three-peat.
But for now, Hardman and Rice and Valdes-Scantling and all the players deemed unworthy of the Super Bowl stage can rest easy on Sunday night. Because they are, in fact, world champions.