The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years on Sunday, but with Patrick Mahomes, it shouldn’t be their last
Confetti was still littered across the field at Hard Rock Stadium following Super Bowl LIV on Sunday when thoughts started to turn toward what the future has in store for the new champs: is this the beginning of a burgeoning dynasty for the Kansas City Chiefs?
The Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20, winning the first Super Bowl title for the franchise in 50 years. To do it they needed to ride the hot arm of 24-year-old quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who turned in an MVP effort in leading his team back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and finished with 286 yards and two touchdowns.
Mahomes proved on Sunday that he’s the future of the league and why Super Bowl LIV likely won’t be the last in his already-storied career. Just three years in his career—only two of them as a starter—he’s already the youngest player to win Super Bowl MVP honors, and the youngest to win both the league MVP award and a Super Bowl title. He becomes eligible to sign a long-term extension for the first time this offseason, and the Chiefs will most likely oblige him and make him the highest-paid player in the league.
Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-powered offense draws the headlines, but it’s their defense that is just as responsible for leading them to the Super Bowl. Last season, after a disappointing overtime loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, the Chiefs front office decided that their defense just wasn’t good enough to take the next step and needed to be revamped. Gone were coordinator Bob Sutton and veterans like Eric Berry, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford. In came players like All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu and edge rusher Frank Clark. Both will be back in Kansas City next season.
The Chiefs got off to slow start in 2019 fitting all the new pieces together, but they started to turn a corner in Week 11. Through their first 10 games, the Chiefs were giving up nearly 24 points per game, 24th in the NFL; in their last six, however, they led the league in fewest points allowed, surrendering only 11 per game.
Head coach Andy Reid, who finally won his first Super Bowl after 221 victories as a head coach, says the memory of that walk off the field against the Patriots last year motivated the team to be better this time around. “This offseason they put their minds to it, as did the coaches. Everybody upped their game,” an exuberant Reid said following the Super Bowl on Sunday. “This is the result. I mean, it’s phenomenal. I’m not sure it’s all sunk in but it’s awesome right now.”
The defensive unit will have a full year of experience playing together by the start of the 2020 season; the offense, moreover, will be the same high-flying unit that’s it’s been the past two seasons with Mahomes at the helm. Tyreek Hill (signed through 2024), Travis Kelce (2022), and four members of their offensive line that allowed Mahomes to be sacked just 17 times this season are all returning.
They proved this postseason that no lead is safe against them. Against the Houston Texans in the divisional round, they came back from 24 points down in the second quarter with a quick 28 points to take the lead at halftime on their way to a 51-31 win. In the AFC Championship game, they again fell behind the Tennessee Titans by 10 before coming back to win. And in the Super Bowl, they erased another 10-point deficit against the best passing defense in the league, becoming the first team in history to have three double-digit comebacks in a single postseason.
The Chiefs will have some decisions to make this coming offseason. Their free-agent class is headlined by defensive lineman Chris Jones, who led the team with nine sacks and 20 quarterback hits despite missing three games. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who has one more year left on his deal, counts for $21 million against their salary cap and will likely have his contract restructured or simply released.
The Chiefs also have the weight of history working against them. No team has repeated as Super Bowl champs since the Patriots in 2004 when they defeated Reid’s Eagles. Kansas City is already installed as favorites to win Super Bowl LV next February, but Reid said after the game he didn’t even want to start thinking about going back-to-back just yet. “Listen, I’m really excited about it. You get one, you want to go get another one. But we got to backpedal for about a minute here and enjoy this one. Then we’ll get busy on the next one.”
That work will begin in due time. But first, the Chiefs are going to appreciate the weight of what they just accomplished, bringing a championship back to Kansas City for the first time in a half-century. Then it will be on to 2020 and, with the possibilities provided by having the league’s best quarterback, beyond.