The Kansas City Chiefs are returning to the Super Bowl, despite seeming more exposed over the majority of the regular season than they have since Patrick Mahomes took over as starting quarterback in 2018.
The Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the previous five years after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 with touchdowns on their first two possessions.
The Chiefs are hoping to become the first club since the 2004 New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl twice in a row after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVIII last season.
“You don’t take it for granted,” Mahomes, who completed 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, stated. “You never know how many you’re going to get to or if you’re going to get to any. So it truly is special just to do it with these guys after what we’ve been through all season long. Guys coming together, it really is special. But I told them, ‘The job’s not done.’ Our job now is to prepare ourselves to play a good football team in the Super Bowl and try to get that ring.”
With more than two minutes left, Mahomes and Marquez Valdes-Scantling connected on a 32-yard throw on third-and-9 to seal the victory. The Ravens would have had plenty of time to win or tie the game if there had been an incomplete.
Mahomes lofted a nice pass for Valdes-Scantling as the Ravens blitzed. That gave the Chiefs the opportunity to run out the time.
Coach Andy Reid remarked, “It wasn’t hard to call,” following the game. “Just a couple of words. It was zero blitz. We knew it was going to be zero blitz or at least had a good idea. You never really know, but we thought we knew, and it was and it got MVS in a great position right … to make the play.”
Travis Kelce, a tight end, caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. He surpassed Jerry Rice’s record of 151 career playoff receptions during the game.
The Chiefs finished the regular season with an 11-6 record, which was a record of more losses than any other team under Mahomes’ leadership. They engaged in a number of careless games, the most notable of which was a home defeat to Las Vegas in Week 16 where the Raiders scored both of their scores on defense as a result of back-to-back turnovers by the Chiefs on plays from scrimmage.
However, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach stated that the team learned a valuable lesson from the Raiders loss, as the Chiefs went on to win three more games in the postseason and their final two regular-season games.
“Sometimes, the worst things that happened to you or in your season turned out to be the best thing,” Veach stated. “We were finding ways to win games, but something was off, whether it be offense or defense or special teams. It just wasn’t in sync, but we were winning and I think sometimes that’s just deodorant …
“That loss I think really hit us and I think it allowed the whole organization to take a look in the mirror. So I really point to that game as really being one of the key motivating factors to just get everyone dialed in here.”
With a QBR of 63, a yards-per-attempt average of 7.0, and a career-high 14 interceptions, Mahomes had, in many respects, the worst statistical season of his career. The issues around him had an impact on him. The Chiefs were second in the league in offensive penalties and dropped more passes than any other team. The Chiefs, who have been one of the league’s highest-scoring teams in previous years, came in 15th place this season with 21.8 points per game.
However, Mahomes has five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the three playoff games.
In the divisional round, the Chiefs faced the Buffalo Bills away from home for the first time in Mahomes’ postseason career, following their victory over the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium in the wild-card round. The Chiefs overcame the Bills 27–24 despite being the underdogs.