January 20th, 2019. The Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots are tied 31-31 at the end of regulation as Harrison Butker nails a 48-yard field goal after a magnificent drive by Patrick Mahomes and the offense that went all the way down to the eight-second mark. The Patriots and Chiefs meet at midfield for the overtime coin flip. Patriots win the coin toss and choose to receive. Tom Brady and the offense convert on three straight 3rd and 10's and score a touchdown with running back Rex Burkhead to win the game, sending Tom Brady to his 9th Super Bowl as Patrick Mahomes watches from the sidelines after not even getting a chance to score. Even worse for the Chiefs, they would have won the game had defensive end Dee Ford not been offsides on a Charvarius Ward interception with just a few minutes left in the game. A truly heartbreaking defeat.
Chiefs fans and the team never forgot about that game. Even tight end Travis Kelce said it took him "several months" to get over the loss well after the season. The Chiefs had all the right pieces on offense but they had one of the worst defenses in NFL history to go with their explosive offense as the Kansas City defense gave up the most first downs in a season in NFL history. So, that offseason the Chiefs went through a defensive overhaul, firing defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, and letting go of several notable players including Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and Dee Ford. The Chiefs brought in guys like Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, and drafted several other difference makers like Juan Thornhill and Rashad Fenton. On top of that, the team hired former New York Giants Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo who infamously held Tom Brady and the Patriots under 20 points in the 2008 Super Bowl. The Chiefs wanted to make sure that 2018 never happened again.
Now, we all know what happened the following year, the defense made massive strides as the Chiefs won the 2019 Super Bowl and achieved vengeance after falling just short in 2018, However, the team didn't forget about 2018 and they still haven't forgotten about 2018. The reality is, had the Chiefs gotten by New England in the 2018 AFC Championship Game they probably beat the Rams and are going for a three-peat this year. Ironically, the one man standing between the Chiefs and a second Super Bowl in three years is the man who stole their first one. Tom Brady. Only Brady is back with a new team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that is young and hungry for success and Tom Brady himself seems rejuvenated to an extent but the Chiefs aren't phased by all of that. This game means more than just another Super Bowl to them. This is a chance for them to take back what's theirs.
There's individual motivations for this game as well. One player who is playing with a chip on his shoulder this Sunday is Chris Jones. Jones and Brady have a little bit of a history at this point. The two have had multiple heated exchanges during games and they clearly dislike each other. A lot of this hate from Jones' side can be attributed to 2018. One play in that game that doesn't get brought up enough in the shadows of the Dee Ford offsides is the horrid roughing the passer call that allowed the Dee Ford play to even happen. It was arguably the worst call in postseason history and that's saying a lot considering the infamous no-call on the pass interference in the Rams-Saints game happened that same day. Late in the fourth quarter of the AFCCG, Chris Jones was called for roughing the passer after slightly tapping the shoulder of Tom Brady on a play that would've set the Patriots up with a 3rd and 10 on their half of the field. Instead, the Patriots are gifted 15 yards and a first down. Fans should know Chris Jones is out for revenge in Super Bowl 55.
How about Patrick Mahomes? This is a big game for him too, obviously. He's still furious after feeling helpless on the sidelines in 2018 all because a coin flip didn't go his way. Furthermore, Patrick Mahomes may not admit it, but he's chasing Brady. Mahomes has always talked about wanting to be the greatest to ever play but he simply won't be able to pass Brady if he is 0-2 against Brady in the playoffs, 0-1 against Brady in the Super Bowl, and Brady has 7 rings in 10 appearances. This game is a chance for Mahomes to make a statement and slay the dragon that is Brady's legacy overshadowing all of his accomplishments. If Mahomes and the Chiefs manage to win Sunday, Mahomes will potentially have an MVP, two Super Bowls, and maybe even two Super Bowl MVP's before even finishing his rookie deal. A lot is on the line for Kansas City's top commodity.
Tyrann Mathieu isn't excluded in this either. He was brought here to be the successor to Eric Berry and be the vocal leader of the secondary and the defense in general. Eric Berry's exit was less than ideal and after seeing him get abused by Rob Gronkowski's skeleton in 2018 we all knew it was time to move on. Mathieu has been as advertised as in 2018 the Chiefs had the No.1 pass rush in the league but the dead last pass defense to go with it. In 2019, the Chiefs arguably had a top 10 pass defense in large part because of Tyrann Mathieu and his all-pro season and all-pro attitude. Super Bowl 55 is another opportunity for Mathieu to prove his worth even more and help to shut down the Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connection that oh so badly killed the Chiefs just a couple years ago and quite frankly back in week 12 as the Chiefs allowed Gronkowski to have his first 100-yard receiving game since the Miami Miracle.
We could go on and on all day about why the Chiefs have a reason to consider this a revenge game. Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Anthony Hitchens, and just about everyone who has been with the Chiefs for the last few years knows how important this game is. Tom Brady terrorized this organization for so many years and now the Chiefs have a chance to punch Brady in the mouth and win a second championship in a row. If we're being honest, the Chiefs could have and should have blown out the Buccaneers in week 12 but they took their foot of the gas in typical Andy Reid fashion. That's fine. Less messing around this time.
This game shouldn't just be about the players on the team who missed out because of Brady, but it should also be about the past players, the legends, that got so close and never got over the hump but helped get the Chiefs to where they are now. Last year was great and all and last year was mainly about the Chiefs capitalizing on a wide open AFC after falling short in 2018, but that's already in the past. Most fans would agree when I say that I just wanted one Super Bowl and I would be happy. Anything else that happens after is gravy, right? But that was before we found out who was on the other side for this one. We aren't satisfied. We hold the team to a high standard for a reason. Anything else less than a Super Bowl win would be a failure when you consider the talent. So, Kansas City, this is your moment, this is your league and the man who ran the league before you is still standing. Take him out. Do it for Jamaal, Do it for DJ, Do it for DT. Do it for Alex. Do it for Houston. Do it for EB. Do it for the back bone of the franchise and the reason you are where you are now. BEAT. TAMPA. BAY.