For the first time in 50 years, the Kansas City Chiefs have taken the Lombardi Trophy home. It has been an absolutely tremendous season for the Chiefs, and it would be foolish to say that any other team deserved it more than they did. Going into the season, the Chiefs were projected to at least be in the AFC Championship game, but there were questions on whether or not they would be able to overcome their porous defense that kept them from making it to the Super Bowl last year.
The Chiefs began the year 4-0, and reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes picked up right where he left off. At the beginning of the season, it looked like he was going to sprint away with the MVP award again before a few questionable losses due to a lack of defense began to derail the season. Prior to their week-seven contest, a Thursday night football game against their division rival, the Denver Broncos, Mahomes appeared on the Chiefs’ injury report. Despite the soreness to his leg, he played through the game but suffered a knee injury during the game after a failed quarterback dive. The initial thought was that it would be a major injury that would end Mahomes’ season and essentially end the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes, as the Madden cover man limped to the medical cart and was driven off the field. Fortunately, reports came out the following day that it was merely a knee dislocation and, after receiving an MRI, it was found that there was no ligament damage and that Mahomes would potentially be able to return in just a couple weeks.
Mahomes ended up missing only two games, in which; the Chiefs went 1-1, falling to the Packers, but not affecting the playoff picture for Kansas City. Mahomes returned for a match on the road against the Titans, where the Chiefs fell short 35-32, despite Mahomes throwing for 446 yards and three touchdowns in the game. The Chiefs had fallen to a 6-4 record through the midseason bump and had the Oakland Raiders, who were a shocking 6-4 as well, knocking on the door for the division. From that point on, the Chiefs did not lose for the rest of the season, and the Raiders only won a single game after that. The Chiefs’ defense went on a bit of a roll and gave Mahomes and the offense all the support they needed to win out the rest of the schedule and finish 12-4.
Despite Kansas City being three games behind New England as late as week 13, the Patriots unraveled as the season wore on, including a loss to the Chiefs that would hand the advantage to Kansas City in a potential tie-breaking situation. Going into week 17, the Chiefs, 11-4, remained a game behind New England, 12-3. After the Chiefs took care of business against the lowly Chargers, the Patriots shockingly lost to Miami, which lifted Kansas City over the Patriots for the No. 2 seed, giving the Chiefs a first-round bye. The Chiefs had the week off to rest up and get right for their divisional-round matchup against the Houston Texans. After the Chiefs’ defense improved down the stretch of the season, the Texans looked like they were exploiting the previous holes early and often. Deshaun Watson and the Texans went right down the field multiple times and got some special teams to help, made a lot of big plays, and in the blink of an eye, the Chiefs found themselves down 24-0 at the beginning of the second quarter. From that point, Mahomes and the Chiefs absolutely dominated the game. Normally a 24 point deficit is the type of comeback that would take an entire game of chipping away until the team finally made it back, but normal rules don’t apply to an offense commanded by Mahomes. With Mahomes throwing four touchdowns in the second quarter alone, the Chiefs went into halftime with a 28-24 lead.
Kansas City was able to keep their composure and completely dismantled the Texans by outscoring them 51-7 after falling down 24 points, leading to a final score 51-31. The Chiefs were back in the AFC championship game for the second consecutive year.
Going into the postseason, the Baltimore Ravens were the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but the Ravens fell victim to the Tennessee Titans’ Cinderella run that also resulted in the demise of the 2019 Patriots season. The Chiefs had the opportunity to host the AFC championship at Arrowhead Stadium, where they fell just short a year prior. What hurt the Chiefs mightily last year was their run defense, as New England ran rampant on them in the playoffs, keeping Mahomes on the sideline. The run defense had improved, but their next challenge was former Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry, who was coming off of an incredible 10-week stretch, including absolutely manhandling the Patriots’ and Ravens’ defenses for 180 plus yards each in the previous two weeks.
Henry was off to a decent start that helped the Titans jump out to a 10-0 lead early, putting Mahomes and the Chiefs in a hole once again. After trading scores, the Chiefs got the ball back with over six minutes left in the first half, down 17-7. They were able to manage two scores before the half, to give themselves a 21-17 lead. With the Titans’ run game falling out of the plan, the Chiefs were once again able to walk away with a 35-24 win that gave the franchise their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.
After completing two successful comebacks, the Super Bowl was no different. A defensive battle consumed the first half, and through most of the third quarter, the Chiefs’ offense was frustrated in ways that hadn’t been seen yet. With the game clock ticking down, Mahomes had thrown two interceptions, the offense had only mustered 10 points, and the Chiefs were down 20-10 halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs were able to score on a play-action boot on the goal line, with Mahomes rolling right and delivering a strike to tight end Travis Kelce for the touchdown. On the ensuing drive, defensive tackle Chris Jones and the rest of the Chiefs’ defensive front pressured Garoppolo on three consecutive downs, forcing a three and out from the 49ers’ offense. Kansas City would march down the field and score once more, this time with Mahomes hitting running back Damien Williams out of the backfield on the swing route, giving the Chiefs the 24-20 advantage.
With San Francisco having all three of their timeouts, and just under two minutes to play, this game was still either team’s to win. Garoppolo had a streaking wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders behind the Chiefs’ defense, ready to score, but slightly overthrew him on third-and-10. On the ensuing down, the Chiefs swarmed, ripping Garoppolo to the ground as he attempted to shovel pass the ball to running back Raheem Mostert, but the refs had already blown the play dead. Kansas City took over the ball with under two minutes to play, needing to get a first down to burn through all of San Francisco’s timeouts and ice the game away. Pitching the rock to Williams on the first play, the speedy back found a seam through the 49ers defense and sprinted down the sideline to the endzone, icing away the game at 31-20. The clock finally hit 0:00 and the Chiefs were crowned the kings of the NFL for the first time in 50 years. Head Coach Andy Reid finally won his first ring as a head coach after coming close so many times previously in Philadelphia, early in his career.
For Mahomes, he won his first of what will probably be many rings, as he emerges as the face of the NFL for the next generation going forward. Mahomes has been nothing short of spectacular since taking over the starting job in Kansas City, and he now has the championship to show for it. He is the youngest quarterback to ever win MVP and a Super Bowl. As for Reid, the Super Bowl title as a head coach has been elusive to him, but now he finally has it and essentially cements himself as one of the best coaches of all time.