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Why Sammy Watkins was the true X-factor in the Chiefs’ win in Super Bowl 54

Sammy Watkins, Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs came away with a thrilling 31-20 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night in a game that was a whole lot closer than the score indicates.

The Chiefs actually trailed by 10 points with just over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter before Patrick Mahomes led Kansas City on a pair of big touchdown drives to claim a 24-20 lead. Damien Williams then salted the game away with a big 38-yard touchdown run on the second play of the club’s final drive with 1:12 remaining.

Mahomes ultimately took home Super Bowl MVP honors in spite of a less-than-stellar stat line (he completed 26 of his 42 throws for 286 yards, a couple of touchdowns and two interceptions), but he was certainly deserving of the award thanks to his magnificent play down the stretch.

But while Mahomes may have been the most dominant player in the Chiefs’ rally, the biggest X-factor was wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Kansas City brought in Watkins in 2018 hoping he would provide Mahomes with a reliable secondary option behind Tyreek Hill, but the early returns weren’t great.

Watkins was limited to just 10 games during his first season with the club due to injuries, finishing with 40 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns.

Then, this season, Watkins was a bit better, appearing in 14 contests and catching 52 passes for 673 yards and three scores, but his production was still modest, at best.

However, the 26-year-old certainly flipped the switch in the playoffs.

It started with a two-catch, 76-yard outing in a Divisional Round win over the Houston Texans, and then, in the AFC Championship Game, Watkins snared seven balls for 114 yards and a touchdown in a victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Watkins would continue his success in the Super Bowl, hauling in five receptions for 98 yards, including a critical 44-yard grab to set up Kansas City’s go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

And on that big play, Watkins burned Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, finally demonstrating why the Chiefs signed Watkins a couple of years ago.

No, he isn’t Hill, but one thing everyone has always known about Watkins is that he has game-breaking potential, which he displayed at Clemson and showed glimpses of during the early stages of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills.

But things didn’t really work out for Watkins in Buffalo. They didn’t work out with the Los Angeles Rams, either. Heck, he even appeared to be a bust early on for the Chiefs.

However, on Sunday evening, Watkins permanently stamped his name in the annals of NFL history, coming up with what was probably the biggest play of the game and representing a dependable outlet for Mahomes all night.

It wasn’t pretty for Kansas City, which saw Mahomes throw a couple of critical second-half interceptions in trying to crack a stingy 49ers defense, but down the stretch, the Chiefs rose, and Watkins spearheaded the movement.

Mahomes will get most of the recognition, but let’s not forget the role that Watkins played in Kansas City’s first championship in 50 years.