The Kansas City Chiefs are world champions for the second year in a row and once again a significant amount of credit should go to Chris Jones. The All-Pro defensive tackle, as has become his habit over the last five years, saved his best for the postseason and made multiple game-changing plays down the stretch of each playoff game. Super Bowl LVIII was no different and Jones was everywhere against the San Francisco 49ers.
His biggest play came in overtime. The 49ers were facing a third-and-four from the eight-yard line. Brock Purdy dropped back to pass but had to throw it away almost immediately because it took Jones fewer than two seconds to get off the line of scrimmage and into the quarterback's face. It was obviously a huge play in the moment. You don't need to know ball to understand how important it was to keep San Francisco to a field goal instead of a touchdown in that scenario.
But further review emphasizes just how clutch it was for Jones to make that play. Because the 49ers had not one, not two, not three, but four open receivers who could have scored if Purdy had another second and a half in the pocket.
In the immediate aftermath of the play the CBS broadcast highlighted Jauan Jennings beating his man on a whip route in bottom right-hand corner of the screen. But he wasn't the only guy with an open path to a TD. At the top of the screen you can see Brandon Aiyuk dusting a Kansas City corner on a post route and getting himself wide open. Christian McCaffrey came screaming across the line in motion and his defender got caught up in the chaos at the line of scrimmage, giving him a few yards of separation. He might've been hard-pressed to score but he definitely would have gotten the first down. And finally, as Purdy is throwing it away, George Kittle is leaking out to the middle of the field with no Chief within five yards of him.
You can actually see all four open players in one screenshot.
Four guys. Four first downs, probably four touchdowns. All for naught because San Francisco somehow forgot to block the best player on the opposing defense, and Jones did not hesitate for even a split-second. Sure, you can quibble about whether or not he technically did it single-handedly since the 49ers did him a big favor by blowing their blocking assignments, but he still had to make the play. A player of his caliber very rarely finds themselves unblocked and Jones could have gotten caught up in thinking about why, if there was some misdirection or a screen or something. But he did not. He flew off the line and was in Purdy's face before he could blink.
It was not a game-saving moment in the way Aaron Donald pressuring Joe Burrow on the final play of Super Bowl XLVI was. But it was similarly clutch. The 49ers scoring a TD there changes everything about how the Chiefs operate on their next drive. It also would have required either an extra point or a two-point conversion, of course. If not for Jones it could have been the 49ers celebrating today instead of Kansas City.
Great players make plays in big moments. Jones did it again last night and he's a large part of the reason why the Chiefs have another ring.