If the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday — giving the team its first Super Bowl win in 50 years, along with Andy Reid’s first title in 21 seasons as a head coach — the America’s Game documentary for the 2019 season will be one of the more richly detailed episodes in the series’ history.
Produced by NFL Films, America’s Game is an in-depth recap of each Super Bowl winner’s season, highlighting the key moments leading to its championship.
Should the Chiefs prevail, the show’s producers will have many storylines from which they can choose. So over the next few days, let’s look at some of the key mile markers on the Chiefs’ road to Miami.
The story season began with Chiefs fans’ worst fear realized: the team’s MVP quarterback was hobbled for the first six weeks of the year.
During Week 1’s 40-26 blowout of Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chiefs offense was white-hot — including a 198-yard, three-touchdown performance by wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
#SomethingSmart I could spend a lot of time talking about the excellent play design. Mahomes helps it by using his eyes and drifting to the field to draw defenders away from Watkins running uncovered. pic.twitter.com/ill80ZAOdZ— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 10, 2019
But Patrick Mahomes suffered an ankle injury during the game. While he continued to play, the effects of that injury would carry through the first seven weeks of the season.
To make matters worse, star receiver Tyreek Hill also went down in Week 1.
The Chiefs still found a way to finish the first quarter of the season undefeated — including a win over the AFC’s eventual first seed: the Baltimore Ravens.
Or this on a bum ankle in week 3. pic.twitter.com/TaUjBBYFgG— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 26, 2019
Heading into a Week 5 game at Arrowhead against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football, things were looking up for Mahomes’ injured ankle. He was once again starting to flash the creativity and athleticism that makes him great.
#SomethingSpecial The broadcast view did not do this play justice. There's no one else with the creativity, athleticism, and arm talent to execute this play. 35 yard flick of the wrist, off platform, across his body with velocity that he needed to get it there. Mercy. pic.twitter.com/KQJYYeougk— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 8, 2019
But just as it seemed Mahomes was turning the corner, there was a setback: backup offensive lineman Cameron Erving stepped on Mahomes’ tender ankle.
The Colts were able to contain the Chiefs — who were starting to feel Hill’s absence as the other receivers struggled to separate against man coverage.
Hill returned the following week, but the team lost to another AFC South opponent: the Houston Texans. Mahomes re-aggravated his bum ankle in that loss, too.
So heading into a Thursday Night Football division contest against the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs stood 4-2. With a short turnaround from the Sunday night game — and an already- injured Mahomes — the Chiefs started with a conservative (but effective) game plan.
Leading 10-6 in the second quarter — and holding the ball with a fourth-and-1 at the Denver 5-yard line — Reid called for a quarterback sneak. The Chiefs converted, but Mahomes dislocated his kneecap.
The Chiefs wouldn’t need any more points to beat the Broncos; they went on to win 30-6. But fans were anxious after another injury to the reigning MVP. As tests were performed, optimism soon followed; it started to look like Mahomes would be able to return quickly. In fact, he missed only two games.
So while the Chiefs were dealt a heavy dose of adversity during the first half of the season, it made the run to Miami that much sweeter.
Coming on Tuesday: to keep the offense moving while their star quarterback recovered, the Chiefs turned to a veteran who had spent the previous year out of football.