What a show. Las Vegas. One of the NFL’s Blue Bloods vs. the New Kids on the Block, aka the defending champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. Jim Nantz. Tony Romo. CBS. And, lest we forget, Taylor Swift. Super Bowl 58.
But wait. Is that all? Nothing else? Well, sure. Commercials. Millions and millions of dollars spent to get you and me to buy insurance or shoes or home internet. Or bet on the winners. In this case, that would be the Chiefs, who their second consecutive Super Bowl, 25-22 in overtime.
In what could be the largest television audience ever, we were asked to watch. To judge. To grade. To do what we all do anyway, just to a smaller, and less receptive, audience.
But first, some rules. We didn’t really concentrate on the pregame show. Or its commercials. We started with the first break after the kickoff. And we could fill an entire Monday paper with thoughts on movie trailers. That doesn’t seem right. No matter how much we’re looking forward to “Deadpool 3,” we didn’t include it. Or the one for “Wicked,” which was the first commercial after the nonfactor early fumble from Christian McCaffrey. Let’s get to it.
• A good start. The M&M “Ring of Comfort” with Dan Marino and Scarlett Johansson, was a tasty appetizer. Nothing better than a bunch of cartoon candies giving one of the NFL’s great quarterbacks a hard time. Of course, the GOAT showed up right after, as Bet MGM used Tom Brady as a foil.
• Aubrey Plaza and Mountain Dew led into the second Kansas City possession, which seems ironic because, at that point no one on the Chiefs’ offense was having a blast. Maybe they should have brought Nick Offerman in at left tackle. He saved the commercial.
• The stars came out after the Chiefs’ second punt. Chris Pratt, who looks a little like the Pringle’s man, “Leo” Messi (as Ted Lasso – Jason Sudeikis – called him) and, yet again Dan Marino, for a pretty average beer, and Michael Cera trying to get a cut of some CeraVe’s lotion sales. Sure, stars are cool and all, but none of them were all that entertaining.
• If you had Jake Moody hitting a Super Bowl-record – for a while – 55-yard field goal as the first points, hope you bet the farm, no matter what state it is in. But could you get Arnold Schwarzenegger to say “neighbor” correctly? If not, I’m pretty sure Danny DeVito is available. But, hopefully, not to kick.
• The best play of the evening? It could have been Patrick Mahomes’ 52-yard second-quarter connection with Mecole Hardman Jr. But it didn’t cost the 49ers, thanks to another lost fumble. Homes.com didn’t fumble a thing in their first bid for greatness, with Dan Levy as an Elon Musk-like new CEO. Heck, even Coors Light with L.L. Cool J – a perfect pairing – couldn’t follow that.
Oh, by the way, Zach Braff’s extreme closeup to end the first T-Mobile ad was pretty uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as Kate McKinnon eating mayo, or the way the 49ers’ Dre Greenlaw’s leg was injured, sure, but pretty scary.
• If referee Bill Vinovich, who was in charge of his second consecutive Kansas City/San Francisco Super Bowl, was officiating the Squarespace commercial right after, he might have thrown a flag on Martin Scorsece’s appearance. If the director was wearing a Chiefs’ jersey.
And the Oscar for the best first-half commercial? We awarded it to the one that came after the first touchdown, McCaffrey’s 21-yard dash after catching Juaun Jenning’s rainbow throw. A trick play that led into Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Brady and Matt Damon walking a tricky line in what could have been an icky Dunkin commercial. From Affleck’s outfit, to Lopez’s cringes to Brady’s perfect lack of acting skills to, in a steal-the-commercial performance, Damon’s embarrassment, it could have been a huge mistake. But it scored. In an old-school way.
• Just like the Chiefs did just before Usher’s performance.
• Or the Paramount+ ad with Jean Luc, er, Patrick Stewart, and the couch potatoes, grown by Pluto TV, if you happened to miss the production. Both were cute, though neither pulled on heartstrings like the one the NFL put together to show how it’s trying to grow the game in Africa.
• Mahome’s early third-quarter interception didn’t end the Chiefs’ chances but it led into a couple of break-the-Internet breaks, one with Beyonce for Verizon and the other from Uber Eats, which had as many stars as Usher’s show. Though not as many as the Bud Light genie spot, which was followed by a quick look at all the entertainment luminaries in attendance.
• No Swift, though, at that point. We saw her earlier but the 49ers’ defense, which kept beau Travis Kelce out of the action, if not off his coach, Andy Reid. We did see her, though, prior to Harrison Butker’s Super Bowl-record 57-yard field goal. Which was followed by another ad from Homes.com, which may have spent a San Francisco-neighborhood worth of equity to sell its product.
The product on the field got more interesting, quickly, with a key punt mistake leading to the Chiefs’ first touchdown. And lead. But it didn’t last. Unlike Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials, which will live for months, being shown during your favorite shows. And then forever online. Like Sunday’s ending, with Mahomes hitting Hardman from 3 yards out, to earn the first back-to-back champions since Brady and the Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
• In a game that went that extra period, it seems more than appropriate the best commercial didn’t show its face until the two-minute warning.
Braff was back, with T-Mobile partner Donald Faison, in the second “Flashdance” takeoff of the night. The star, though, was neither of those two. It was Jason Momoa, Aquaman himself, showing off his song-and-dance moves. And the hair to sell the Flashdance image. Perfect.
Unless, of course, you were all in on the 49ers.