The biggest Super Bowl in history exploded into life in the second quarter in Las Vegas, with Travis Kelce appearing to square up to his coach Andy Reid for taking him out of a costly play for the Chiefs, as they made a stuttering start in the first half against San Francisco 49ers.
With his girlfriend Taylor Swift watching on from the stands, Kelce appeared to see red and scream at his coach after missing a play that offered a great opportunity for the Chiefs to take the lead with the first touchdown of the game. Wide receiver Isiah Pacheco, normally so assured with the ball, fumbled.
Reid, 65, almost appeared to lose his balance for a moment when Kelce knocked into him, with the tight end holding his arm as if to keep him up while he screamed before Jerick McKinnon, Kelce’s teammate, wrapped his arms around him and dragged him away. It was strikingly similar to the Christmas Day scenes that were so shocking, when the Chiefs meekly surrendered in a home loss to Las Vegas Raiders and Kelce slammed his helmet into the ground before shoving Reid with his shoulder as things started to go wrong.
After the first quarter ended with neither team scoring, San Francisco took the lead at the start of the second when Jake Moody made Super Bowl history by converting the longest kick in its history at 55 yards. It would have been good from longer out, too. And then Christian McCaffrey, who fumbled in the first quarter, rubbed salt in the wounds with the first touchdown of the night and the 49ers led by 10.
Harrison Butker trimmed the deficit to seven points with a 28-yard kick but the Chiefs trailed by seven at the halftime interval. Both Mahomes and Brock Purdy threw for 123 yards in the first quarter. Things started to go noticeably wrong for the Chiefs after Moody’s record-setting kick – even though they hadn’t really been going too right up to then, either.
Travis Kelce had a moment of madness as he screamed at his coach Andy Reid in the second quarter of the Super Bowl
But the Chiefs offense was stuttering and Kelce appeared to lose his cool midway through the second quarter in Vegas
Kelce’s girlfriend Taylor Swift had raced back from Japan for the game but the Chiefs made an underwhelming start
Swift made it back to take her place in the $1million Kelce family suite with her crew and his family a row behind
Jake Moody scored a 55-yard kick to break the deadlock and put the 49ers ahead – the longest in Super Bowl history
Christian McCaffrey made up for a surprise early fumble by storming over the line for the first touchdown of the game
Following Moody’s kick, Mahomes picked out Mecole Hardman with a 52-yard bomb but in the next play, wide receiver Isiah Pacheco uncharacteristically fumbled. He apologized to each member of his teammate on the bench at Allegiant Stadium.
But as the Chiefs made their way off the field, Kelce appeared to come to blows with Reid, the coach he so often speaks of how much he respects.
Then, on the next offense, Mahomes lost 10 yards for intentional grounding in a moment where they needed the quarterback to step up before McCaffrey’s touchdown. Things were threatening to unravel.
But the 49ers hadn’t had it their own way up to then. Running back McCaffrey, so often imperious with the ball under his arm, fumbled in the opening minutes for the first time since Week 7 – a run of over three-and-a-half months that came to an end early on in the biggest stage of them all.
For both him and Pacheco, who had lost the ball in the second for the Chiefs, they were deeply uncharacteristic errors.
And in the second quarter, 49ers star Dre Greenlaw appeared to tear his left Achilles as he watched Pacheco fumble the ball. He leapt up into the air in celebration before sprinting onto the field, and his left leg gave way int he cruelest of circumstances.
The Chiefs had no early successes of their own to shout about in the first quarter. Chiefs quarterback Mahomes was sacked when Chase Young broke through the Chiefs O-Line.
The action began at Allegiant Stadium shortly before 7pm EST – 4pm local time – after country music icon Reba McEntire had belted out the national anthem.
Kelce’s girlfriend Swift had made a mad dash back from Japan for the game after playing four straight nights on her Eras Tour in Tokyo
Kelce is is tackled by San Francisco 49ers’ defensive lineman Chase Young during the early parts of the first quarter
Young then broke through the Chiefs O-Line and sacked Patrick Mahomes, as 49ers teammate Nick Bose celebrates
The 34-year-old Kelce, one of the star men for the Chiefs, had first looked cool and composed during the warm ups
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (center) gives a late Kansas City teamtalk with Kelce stood alongside him
Brittany Mahomes, the wife of Chiefs quarterback Patrick, took to the field before the start of the game with their kids
She is joined in a suite – that boyfriend Travis is believed to have paid $1million for – with the rest of the Kelce family, her own mom and dad, and friends Ice Spice and Blake Lively.
She was seen giving Jason, the older Kelce brother, a hug as they reunited and he then introduced himself tot he American rapper Ice Spice – scenes that NFL fans wouldn’t have ever believed possible when the season began back in September.
The Chiefs won the toss before the start of the game and deferred, so the 49ers started with the ball in the battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
For Travis and the Chiefs, the game finally getting underway draws a line under two weeks of intense build-up, where the tight end in particular faced a new wave of attention due to his girlfriend.
Victory for Kansas City would see the team join a unique club of back-to-back Super Bowl winners but there is history on the line for San Francisco, as well.
If they win tonight, they will join New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers on a record-equaling six Super Bowl titles.
Rapper Jay-Z was on the Allegiant Stadium field in Vegas in the build-up to the game between Chiefs and 49ers
The Swifties still made their way into the stadium for the biggest night in the American sporting calendar
While plenty of attention is on the Chiefs, the 49ers could seal a record-equaling sixth Super Bowl with a win