Kansas City Chiefs: 2019 Season in Review
Jeremy Ganes takes a deep dive into the Chiefs AFC-winning season and reviews how they made it to Super Bowl 54.
Down 24 points with 10 minutes left in the first half of their divisional playoff game versus the Texans, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs knew that they needed to turn it around or face an early exit from the postseason. Earlier in the year, Mahomes had to turn it around personally after suffering a sprained ankle and dislocated kneecap, so his experience of bouncing back from adversity was fresh in his mind. And so, in that moment during that game, something changed, and he led the Chiefs roaring back with a 28-0 run, which eventually resulted in a spectacular 51-31 win.
The Chiefs started the year off with a four-game winning streak, easily rolling over AFC opponent after another. In their first game of the season, despite suffering the early exit of star receiver Tyreek Hill in the first quarter, the Chiefs rallied to overpower the injury-ridden Jacksonville Jaguars in a 40-26 season-opening win. Mahomes dazzled in his first real game since the 2018 campaign, passing for 378 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
After beating up on the Oakland Raiders on the road in Week 2 by a score of 28-10, the Chiefs hosted the Baltimore Ravens for their home opener. Without the contributions of Hill, still injured from Week 1, or star running back Damien Williams, the Chiefs were headed for a tough battle. However, Mahomes’ leadership and the rushing duo of LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams, who ran for a combined 116 yards on the day, proved to be just enough superpower to fuel the Chiefs past the Ravens 33-28.
Another big test for the Chiefs came when they hosted the Detroit Lions for the Chiefs’ first matchup with an NFC team this year. The Lions defense prevented Mahomes from using his arm too much, so the majority of the offensive drives were dominated by the run game. Down by three with just over two minutes left, Mahomes put together a game-winning drive that ended with a Darrel Williams 1-yard run into the end zone to win the game 34-30.
Despite getting back Damien Williams from injury, the Chiefs were simply overwhelmed by the surging Indianapolis Colts in Week 5, losing 19-13 at home. The Chiefs had 125 yards in penalties, a stat that coach Andy Reid was quick to point out after the game, but they also were plagued by a wobbling Patrick Mahomes, who neglected his ankle injury for far too long, and it finally caught up to him.
The Chiefs, looking to regain momentum after a disappointing loss, hosted the Texans in Week 6, but again, they were overtaken by a dominant Texans team that was looking for blood. The storyline featured Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, who passed for 280 yards and a touchdown and was picked two spots behind Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft. Mahomes countered by going 19-for-35 on the day with an interception and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough, as the Chiefs dropped their second straight home game 31-24.
The Chiefs picked up an easy road win against the Broncos 30-6 the following Thursday, then traveled back to Kansas City to host the Green Bay Packers in a Sunday Night Football showdown. However, something was left behind: Patrick Mahomes’ healthy kneecap, which had been dislocated in Denver. Backup quarterback Matt Moore shined in his substitute role against Green Bay, but the Packers defense was too strong, and the Chiefs lost 31-24 in front of the home crowd.
With Mahomes still injured, the Chiefs hosted the Minnesota Vikings with Moore at the helm. Harrison Butker’s four field goals, including one from 54 yards out, lifted the bruised Chiefs past the Vikings 26-23. Then the Chiefs traveled to Tennessee for a tough road matchup against the Titans. Mahomes returned to play in this game, but the Titans defense was too strong for the returning star. Even a last-minute drive down the field couldn’t rally the Chiefs past the Titans, as Kansas City dropped this one 35-32.
After the loss in Tennessee, something changed in the Kansas City locker room. Mahomes refueled himself after returning from his injury and the offensive line improved. The Chiefs went on an insane six-game winning streak to finish out the season, profiting greatly from their Week 12 bye and a healthier offense. During this final stretch, the Chiefs turned away the Chargers twice, the Raiders in a crushing 40-9 rout, the Patriots in a close victory, the Broncos in a great division rivalry game, and finally the Bears in splendid 26-3 fashion.
With a little help from the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, the Chiefs secured a first-round bye, and after Tennessee knocked out top-seeded Baltimore in the divisional round, all the Chiefs had to do was take care of Houston top secure home-field advantage in the AFC championship game. Now, with consecutive victories over AFC South contenders in the final two weeks of the AFC playoffs, the Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl for the first time in half a century.
The Chiefs have had a tough season. They never experienced peak dominance until the very end, and they always had to work for it. But when the Chiefs are down, you can never count them out.
Josh Portney is a freshman studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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