Each and every moment in the playoffs led the Kansas City Chiefs to their third Super Bowl appearance in five years. But for a team with annual championship expectations like the Chiefs, getting to the Super Bowl is only half the battle. Any Super Bowl opponent poses a threat and is there for a reason, but the Philadelphia Eagles were the NFC’s top team from Week 1 until the clock hit zeroes in the Super Bowl. So, how were the Kansas City Chiefs able to overcome the powerhouse of the NFC and capture their third Super Bowl championship in franchise history? The answer can be any wide variety of players, plays or moments from the big game, but let’s focus on the top three reasons why the Chiefs were able to pull out the 38-35 victory.
Stellar Offensive Line Play
Starting by acknowledging the work done by Kansas City’s offensive line seems like the right choice considering the lack of attention they’ve received for their efforts in the Super Bowl win. This offensive line unit (consisting of Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Andrew Wylie) were faced with the daunting task of shutting down arguably the best front 7 in the NFL. Philadelphia’s Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham have been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks all year, as the Eagles defense led all of the NFL in sacks this season. Yet, the Chiefs offensive line did an incredible job protecting Patrick Mahomes, as they didn’t surrender a single sack all game.
On top of doing a great job protecting the quarterback, the Chiefs offensive line was also able to free up holes in the run game at critical times. Running backs Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per carry, respectively. Even Mahomes, who was playing on a bad ankle, was able to scramble for yards throughout the game, including a key 26 yard run with less than three minutes to play that set up Kansas City for the game winning field goal. It’s safe to say that the Chiefs offensive line came a long way after Mahomes was seemingly running for his life on every play in Kansas City’s Super Bowl defeat two years ago.
Speaking of things that are safe to say, is it safe to put Travis Kelce in the conversation for greatest tight end of all time yet? Year in and year out Kelce finds himself among the league leaders in receiving yards as a tight end. His resume speaks for itself. Four time All-Pro, seven straight seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards, including 2020 where he broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end, double digit touchdowns in three of the past five seasons, along with 100+ catches in three of the past five seasons as well.
But it’s not only about what he does in the regular season, as highlighted by his now two Super Bowl championships. He shows up and dominates when it matters most, like reeling in six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl victory. His ability to be the focal point of the offense while still taking over games is what makes him special, and his chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is absolutely unmatched.
Speaking of Patrick Mahomes, you didn’t really think we could go on about how the Chiefs won the Super Bowl without mentioning the face of the franchise. Super Bowl appearances in three of his first five years as a starter, two Super Bowl championships, two MVPs, oh and by the way, he’s only 27 years old. While fans knew long before this season that Mahomes was destined for greatness, it still felt like these playoffs were the reminder everyone needed in how special Patrick Mahomes really is.
It all started in the first quarter of the Chiefs Divisional Round matchup with Jacksonville, when Jaguars defensive end, Arden Key, fell awkwardly onto Mahomes right ankle. After hobbling to the sideline before returning to play without being able to put any weight on that right leg, many wondered if the Chiefs would have any chance of making a run without Mahomes playing at 100 percent. After missing the rest of the half, Mahomes returned for the second half of that game and responded by throwing a touchdown on one foot and leading the Chiefs past the Jaguars.
Mahomes never seemed to be fully healthy for the remainder of the playoffs after the injury against Jacksonville, but of course that didn’t stop him from playing close to perfect football and eventually earning Super Bowl MVP. Even without airing it out and pushing the ball downfield against Philadelphia, Mahomes was an extremely efficient 21/27 for 182 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in the victory. Add the six rushes for 44 yards on top of that, and you’re able to see how Mahomes, recovering from a high ankle sprain, was still able to put the Chiefs on his back en route to his second ring.
Check out some of the Chiefs biggest plays from the Super Bowl in the links below: