We’re looking at the key mile markers in the Kansas City Chiefs’ road to Miami.
It’s been a long, difficult path for this team to attain heights they haven’t reached in 50 years. We’re profiling the biggest stories along the way to Super Bowl LIV.
The Chiefs had been able to sit out the Wild Card round of the playoffs — thanks to a six-game winning streak and a heavy dose of Fitzmagic.
Two weeks later, it looked they were about to squander that opportunity with a horrendous start against the Houston Texans in Arrowhead Stadium.
Where you were when you were watching the game? Do you remember the feeling you had early in the second quarter — when the Chiefs were down 24-0?
And yet... now the Chiefs are playing in their first Super Bowl in 50 years. In a matter of weeks, we’ve gone from a feeling of utter hopelessness to the doorstep of a world championship.
Almost everything since then has been the best football the team has played all season — starting with a furious comeback in just one quarter to take a 28-24 halftime lead against Houston.
Patrick Mahomes really finished the comeback on a play where he had the presence of mind to drag his foot so it was behind the line of scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/CDW4MYKNsC— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 14, 2020
After that, everyone in the building knew the Chiefs were going to win the game; Patrick Mahomes was simply not going to allow it to happen.
When the final gun sounded, the Chiefs had won 51-31 — and any curse that anyone had ever believed was on the franchise had been shattered forever.
The divisional round comeback changed things. It was tangible proof that the 2019 Chiefs didn’t just have untapped potential. They were now a contender to be respected — even feared — in 2019 postseason and beyond.
Even the following week — when the Chiefs trailed the Tennessee Titans 10-0 in the first quarter of the AFC Championship — the mood of the fanbase was drastically different than the previous week; the here we go again mentality that had been ingrained in Chiefs fans over five decades of playoff failure had largely disappeared.
Any that remained would be gone before dinner.
The Chiefs cut the lead to 10-7 with a 10-play, 74-yard drive. Tennessee responded with a nine-minute touchdown drive to again regain a 10-point lead.
But the rest of the game belonged to the Chiefs.
Mahomes and the offense got a quick score on the fifth play of the next drive — a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to cut the lead back to three. The defense forced a punt, giving the ball back to the offense with less than two minutes until the half. With 23 seconds remaining, the league MVP gave fans what might have been the best moment of an already-exceptional young career.
And he didn’t even throw the ball.
Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games pic.twitter.com/ZC8Ts5dHqK— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 19, 2020
For the second time in as many weeks, everyone in the building knew the Chiefs weren’t going to lose; Mahomes just wasn’t going to be denied.
A 28-7 run to close the game was capped off with a 60-yard touchdown pass to pull the Chiefs ahead 35-17. The Titans would score again in the fourth quarter — but the game was over.
A party ensued. The Lamar Hunt Trophy stayed home — and Kansas City’s season was extended all the way to the season’s final game.
This 2019 season has felt different — because it has been different. The adversity the team has faced — injuries, losses, falling behind in big games — has made them stronger. Their commitment to the process — to focus above all on daily improvement — has led them to an AFC Championship... and a good chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
It feels like there’s only one way this season can end. The story has just been too good — and Andy Reid deserves the best ending more than anyone in the NFL.
If the Chiefs can win on Sunday, the America’s Game episode for this season will indeed be special.