MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Twelve years is a long time between super bowls. It was worth the wait for Steve Spagnuolo.
The former Giants defense coordinator, who orchestrated the attack that forced Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots to their knees after the 2007 Super Bowl XLII season, has another finger ring.
Spagnuolo had to go through a lot of hard moments between then and Sunday night when he made the decision to defend a Chiefs that didn't score a point in the last quarter to make a comeback inspired by Patrick Mahomes in a 31:20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl 2020.
"Man, long day," said an exhausted and happy Spagnuolo later. “The hell happy. First of all, I want to thank God for taking me to Kansas City and Andy [Reid] Have confidence in me.
"It wasn't nice, but it was gritty and it was gritty in the end."
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said he saw "new wrinkles" in Spagnuolo.
"A good defense," said Garoppolo. "You have to pay them some credit."
Spagnuolo couldn't get rid of the 49ers' strong ground play – they plunged to 141 meters – but Garoppolo's longest finish took just 26 meters, and the Chiefs knocked out in the fourth quarter.
"The defense is incredible," said Travis Kelce, who named Spagnuolo by name. "This defense played its tails."
It was quite a drive for the 60-year-old Spagnuolo. Tom Coughlin gave him his first attempt to become defensive coordinator with the Giants in 2007, and this season ended with fame. Spagnuolo freed Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora for Tom Brady, and a year later, Spagnuolo landed as head coach at the Rams.
He was only in St. Louis for three years (10-38). Sean Payton hired Spagnuolo to rebuild the Saints' defense in 2012, but Payton was suspended for his role in Bountygate, and Spagnuolo's defense allowed most yards in one season in NFL history. After just a year, he was out in New Orleans.
There were two years as a defense assistant with the Ravens. Coughlin brought Spagnuolo back in 2015, but the Giants gave up the most points in franchise history that year. Coughlin was fired after that season, Ben McAdoo retained Spagnuolo, but McAdoo was fired 12 games in the 2017 season. Spagnuolo went 1-3 as the interim head coach and was then sacked.
Spagnuolo got his NFL start on Reid's staff at the Eagles, and Reid hired his former assistant to head the Chiefs' defense, which finished 31st in 2018.
"You say," Is this better than the other? "Said Spagnuolo." It's the one you're enjoying, so I'm really grateful. "