By James Simpson
Last Updated: 25/01/20 3:21pm
The Kansas City Chiefs, after 50 years of waiting, are back in the Super Bowl.
Behind an electrifying offense and opportunistic defense that improved over the course of the season, Kansas City finished as the AFC’s second seed then took care of two AFC South opponents in the postseason.
Super Bowl LIV on Sky Sports
Follow all the action of Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and the Chiefs with Sky Sports!
Despite suffering a major injury scare in the middle of the year, Andy Reid’s team rallied to rattle off eight straight wins.
We run you through the Chiefs’ season highs and lows and how they made it to Miami below…
49ers: Road to the Super Bowl
The San Francisco 49ers are headed to their seventh Super Bowl, looking to win a record-equalling sixth. But how did they make it there?
What went right?
After a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown, and league MVP award-winning season in his first year as a starter in 2018/19, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not expected to match his achievements this time around. But in taking his team to the Super Bowl – after they narrowly missed out to Tom Brady and the Patriots last season – he has been just as impressive.
Before suffering a dislocated kneecap in Week Seven against the Broncos, the Chiefs had started the season with four straight wins, with Mahomes throwing 10 touchdowns compared to no picks.
Even with backup Matt Moore at the helm, Kansas City managed to finish that game in Denver with a win, play the Packers close in a 24-31 loss, and beat the visiting Vikings in Week Nine. Clearly, the Chiefs didn’t rely completely on their star QB – but we already knew this as they reached the postseason in four of five seasons with Alex Smith under center. But Mahomes is here to take them over the top.
After a 35-32 loss to Tennessee on Mahomes’ return – in which he still threw for a season-high 446 yards! – the Chiefs came together on both sides of the ball to win their final six regular season games. The offense averaged over 27.8 points per game, but it was Steve Spagnuolo’s defense that turned heads. After allowing 23.9 points per game over the first 10 games, they allowed just 11.5 down the stretch.
What went wrong?
From Weeks Four to Six, Mahomes did actually experience a downturn in production – even before his injury. He completed just 56 per cent of his passes, had four touchdowns to one pick, and an 89.3 passer rating – and the Chiefs lost two of those games. However, the injury may have actually helped Mahomes reset and regroup for his strong second half.
Kansas City had a rushing defense problem over the course of the season, too. In the three regular season losses in which Mahomes played (all to AFC South opponents), they allowed 180 (Indianapolis), 192 (Houston) and 225 (Tennessee) yards on the ground. However, in their six-game winning streak to end the season, they didn’t concede more than 122 in any single game, and in the postseason, allowed 94 then 85 in their two wins.
One potential problem could have been the early deficits the Chiefs have got themselves into to start the playoffs. Against the Texans, they were famously 24-0 down before rattling off 41 straight points. The Titans had gone up 10-0, and then 17-7 before Kansas City fought their way back.
San Francisco love to run the ball and they are adept at holding onto leads – the Chiefs might not get away with it if they start slow on Super Bowl Sunday.
How can it not be Patrick Mahomes? You’ll have heard about how special he was last year during his MVP season, you’ll hear it in the next two weeks, and the talk will only grow if he continues at his current pace.
He could be the first ever player to win an MVP award and a Super Bowl before the age of 25. His 108.9 career passer rating would eclipse Aaron Rodgers’ current all-time best of 102.4 by a clear margin if he can keep it up. Plus, he’s been incredible in his postseason performances too (this year and last year). Mahomes has the highest passer rating (115.0) and touchdown-interception ratio (11-0) in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era.
The records go on: most passing touchdowns (87) by any player in his first 35 starts, most yards (10,600) in his first 35 starts, and the Chiefs have scored at least 30 points in all of his postseason games! Can anyone slow him down?
What could have been if it wasn’t for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins in Week 17? If the New England Patriots had held off Miami and secured the No 2 seed, Kansas City would have had to make it through three games – at least one on the road – to reach this stage.
Instead, they hosted the Texans first, and waited until down 24-0 early in the second quarter to start their playoff push. In a remarkable comeback, Kansas City had 118 rushing yards, Mahomes threw five touchdowns – three to tight end Travis Kelce – as the Chiefs flexed their point-scoring muscles.
At home again to the Titans, it was a tighter start and they were only down by 10 (twice), but it’s near-impossible to hold this offense down all game long. From midway in the second quarter to midway on the fourth, the Chiefs scored 28 straight points behind touchdowns by Tyreek Hill, Damien Williams, Sammy Watkins and Mahomes’ magical 27-yard run.
Super Bowl pedigree
It’s been too long! The Chiefs have been to two Super Bowls – I and IV – both over 50 years ago. In their first appearance, in the 1966/67 season, they lost the first ever Super Bowl to Vince Lombardi’s Packers. Three seasons later, they won Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings in January 1970.
But don’t let that make you think they have come out of nowhere. The Chiefs have made the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons under Andy Reid, and were a Tom Brady overtime drive away from meeting the Rams in Atlanta last year.
Who are the Super Bowl finalists?
What do you need to know about the 49ers and Chiefs, the two teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl?
Reid also took the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl during his time as head coach (in 2005) and made the NFC Championship game five times – he’s no stranger to the big stage.
Kansas City – and Reid – having been knocking on the door for a while. Will they finally come through in Miami?
@SkySportsNFL are in Miami all week – follow us for live video and a flavour of the madness.
For 90 minutes of Super Bowl LIV build-up from Hard Rock Stadium with Rob Ryan and Josh Norman, join us on Sky Sports Action, Main Event and Mix from 10pm on Sunday, February 2.
Source : Sky Sports