Steve Spagnuolo now stands alone as championship coordinator.
The venerable defensive maven on Sunday became the first NFL coordinator on either side of the ball to win his fourth Super Bowl, clinching the historic milestone with the Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Spagnuolo’s first championship came as the defensive coordinator of the 2007 Giants, whose swarming pass rush led by Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora terrorized Tom Brady en route to an upset of the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
Sunday’s win in Super Bowl LVIII at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium marked his third with Kansas City, where he’s served as defensive coordinator since 2019. The Chiefs also won after the 2019 and 2022 seasons.
Spagnuolo’s defense on Sunday forced a fumble from 49ers star Christian McCaffrey, sacked quarterback Brock Purdy three times and limited the NFL’s second-ranked offense to 19 points in regulation — about 10 points below San Francisco’s regular-season average.
The Chiefs then held the Niners to a field goal in overtime, paving the way for Patrick Mahomes to lead the Kansas City offense on a game-winning touchdown drive.
“Coach Spags, man, he’s going to heat you up,” Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton told ESPN afterward. “Got a couple negative plays there [in overtime] and on third down, we brought the house.”
Sunday’s win capped a 2023 season in which Kansas City leaned more than ever on its defense to overcome an uncharacteristically unspectacular offense.
The Chiefs allowed the NFL’s second-fewest yards (289.8) and points (17.3 points) per game in the regular season. They tightened up even more in the playoffs, surrendering only 15.8 points per game against high-powered opponents in the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and 49ers.
After allowing 10 points in the second quarter, the Chiefs adjusted after halftime, playing more man coverage, which 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged posed a challenge.
The Chiefs did not allow more than 27 points in a game this season.
“I love Spags!” Chiefs safety Justin Reid proclaimed after Sunday’s win. “In Spags we trust, baby!”
Spagnuolo was the Giants’ defensive coordinator from 2007-08, and then again from 2015-17. He also served as head coach of the Rams from 2009-11.
“When it’s all said and done, I hope my personal legacy is that I was able to share, educate, mentor, coach, teach guys along the way in this business,” Spagnuolo told the Giants website before the Super Bowl.
“It’s always been about trying to influence, help, mentor, better somebody and something, and it happened to be football. So, I hope when it’s all said and done, it’ll be the relationships and I would’ve been able to at least help some guys along the way.”