Kansas City Chiefs returning to Super Bowl for 2nd year in a row after dominating Ravens
The Chiefs will make their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years — and this time as the reigning champions. Kansas City upset the Ravens in Baltimore, 17-10, to win the AFC Championship.
The Kansas City Chiefs are heading to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five seasons after a 17-10 win on the road against the Baltimore Ravens. No team in the NFL has won back-to-back Super Bowl championships since the New England Patriots.
The Chiefs came out of the gate to score a touchdown on their opening drive and never trailed in the game. On the defensive side, the Chiefs forced three turnovers by the Ravens. Two of them were in the end zone area with the Ravens on the verge of scoring.
Accepting the Lamar Hunt trophy in a formal presentation on the field after the game, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told Jim Nantz he was thinking of his mother, Norma Hunt, who died last year.
“Four years ago, when you handed us our first Lamar Hunt trophy, I gave it to Mom and the first thing she did was kiss it,” he said.
This time at the Super Bowl, the Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers, who pulled off a major comeback Sunday against the Detroit Lions to win the NFC Championship, 34-31. It will be a rematch of the 2020 Super Bowl, which the Chiefs won in dramatic fashion.
Super Bowl 58 will be be hosted this year in Paradise, Nevada, on Sunday, Feb. 11. The game, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. CT, will air on CBS.
In their winning era
Landon Nichols is a lifelong Chiefs fan who watched Sunday’s game at Jim’s Alley Bar in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. At the end of the game, knowing the Chiefs are headed to another Super Bowl, he said it was a great day to be a Kansas Citian.
“I don't know how we pulled this off, but it's great,” Nichols said. “It feels good. Another Super Bowl. We are in the best era of football right now for Kansas City and it's unbelievable.”
Zach Shore also caught the game at Jim’s Alley Bar. At halftime, with the Chiefs in the lead, he said Mahomes was playing strong while the Ravens quarterback appeared to be losing steam. At the finish of the game, Shore said Kelce played his best game of the season.
“Lamar Jackson looked tired from quarter one to quarter four,” Shore said. “He looked tired. Patrick Mahomes looked thirsty, hungry. He was ready to fight and they fought from minute one.”
Chiefs fan Joey Beim thought the team had a strong first half but played sloppier in the second half. Still, the team came away with the win, and that’s all that mattered, he said.
“Growing up, being a Chiefs fan was very hard 'cause we were so bad for so long,” Beim said. “And then now within the past, you know, five years, we've now won two Super Bowls, gone to three and now we're going to another one. So let's win another one.”
Lindsay Labella is a long-time employee of Jim’s Alley Bar and lifelong Chiefs fan. For her, waitressing during the game was an experience of both anticipation and camaraderie.
“The energy is just so high in here. It almost gives you goosebumps every time you walk by a table and you see how happy everyone is just to be here and watch the game together.”Lindsey Labella, Jim's Alley Bar
Regarding the Swift-Kelce duo, Labella said Swift not only introduces new fans to the Chiefs, but brings the team luck as well. And, the exchange does not only go one way, according to fan Dezi Mealy.
“I've converted as well actually to [Taylor Swift] just because, I think she's cool, “ Mealy said. “I never really knew her that much, but I like her more as a Chiefs fan.”
'We were going to be OK'
Sunday’s matchup marked the first time since the start of the Mahomes era that the AFC Championship was not played on the Chiefs’ home turf at Arrowhead Stadium — a testament to the team’s doggedness and command of the conference under head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The team’s sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship is only two short of the New England Patriots’ record stretch from 2011 to 2018.
“I know going on the road we were going to be OK,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes told CBS on the Lamar Hunt trophy presentation for the AFC Championship.
The game against the AFC’s No. 1-seed Baltimore Ravens was the toughest matchup for the Chiefs all season. Chiefs defenders squared off against the League’s highest-rated passer in Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the offense faced a dominating defense. The Ravens allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in the League, and the fewest points — just 16.5 per game.
Going into Sunday’s game, Chiefs fan Erik Nestor knew it was a tough matchup against the Ravens.
“I didn't think the Chiefs would pull it out,” Nestor said after the game. “I thought we were gonna get cooked, but we cooked them.”
The game comes a week after the Chiefs’ hard-fought victory against the Buffalo Bills, which was Mahomes’ first playoff game on the road and proved the team’s tenacity to win under tough conditions.
To the frustration of many players and fans, the Chiefs’ regular season was marred by dropped passes, penalties and devastating losses. December was particularly dreadful, when the team netted heartbreaking home losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Buffalo Bills, and a road loss at Green Bay.
Malachi Podrebarac has cheered for the Chiefs for many years. At the start of the third quarter, he called himself a pessimist, even though the Chiefs were ahead.
After the game ended, Podrebarac said he thinks this is the year for the Chiefs to go for back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
“I don't even have words to fully describe what it means to be a Chiefs fan,” he said. “We had a lot of really, really bad years. But the thing is that — I know that a lot of my family knows and friends know — is we watched every game regardless. I will still be anywhere for any Chief's game — with a losing record, with a winning record — no matter what.”
After a regular-season loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in November, Travis Kelce acknowledged the team’s struggles.
“Turnovers and penalties on our half — it’s nothing that they did,” he said. “It’s all us.”
Those woes now seem to be a thing of the past. So far in the playoffs, the Chiefs have limited turnovers, and Patrick Mahomes has completed 718 passing yards.
That the Chiefs played this season’s AFC Championship game away from the roaring crowds of Arrowhead Stadium is a result of the team’s regular season record of 11-6, landing the No. 3 seed in the AFC. It was Mahomes’ worst record as a starting quarterback.
But since the playoffs began this month, the Chiefs have quieted doubts over whether they could shake off their regular season weaknesses. They did. And last week, Mahomes and Kelce proved they’re one of the most dynamic duos in the sport, breaking the record for most postseason touchdown passes between a quarterback and receiver. The record was previously held by former Patriots legends Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Off the field, the Chiefs garnered even more attention this season through a new fan who happens to be one of the biggest pop stars in the world. Taylor Swift’s appearances at several Chiefs games, including Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, have delighted many Kansas Citians and brought more people in to cheer on the team.
Brad Liggett was born and raised in Kansas City and has been rooting for the Chiefs since he was a kid. Liggett said his 16-year-old daughter is a big Swiftie. This season, the two started bonding over the Chiefs, and Kelce in particular, since Swift began attending games.
“I have pictures of her as a toddler all decked out in Chiefs’ gear with me at the stadium, and she obviously doesn't remember, she was a baby toddler, but I used to take her to games, which she obviously has no recollection of,” Liggett said at halftime. “And she didn't care about football for pretty much her entire life until a few months ago.”
As the Chiefs cement their legacy on the gridiron, team owners have been busy solidifying the team’s presence in Jackson County and at Arrowhead Stadium. Owners hope Jackson County voters in April will reapprove a ⅜-cent stadium sales tax, which would help pay for the Kansas City Royals’ new baseball stadium and the Chiefs’ renovation plans at Arrowhead.
Both teams have said extending the tax for another 40 years is crucial for them to stay in Jackson County.
The Chiefs have not yet disclosed their exact plans for Arrowhead, but President Mark Donovan said last Monday that fans can expect more details from the team ahead of the April vote.
Isabella Luu contributed to this report.