The Kansas City Chiefs fell short of becoming the eighth team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls as they fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, 31-9. There is a lot of sadness and frustration after the game and as I write this, so let’s dive in.
What Went Wrong for KC?
The Chiefs played their worst game of the season and the worst game with Patrick Mahomes under center. The best way to summarize what went wrong came down to struggles on offense, defense, and special teams, which paired with poor officiating.
Let’s start with the officials. I will summarize the officiating by breaking down the penalty difference just in the first half. In the first 30 minutes of play, the Chiefs were penalized eight times for 95 yards, which is the most ever in a half for a team in Super Bowl history. As for the Buccaneers, they were penalized once for five yards. In total, Kansas City was flagged 11 times for 120 yards on the night, compared to Tampa Bay’s four penalties for 39 yards.
On the night, Tom Brady and the offense had six first downs from penalties on KC, to pair with a nullified interception. The officiating made weak and soft calls that aided the Bucs and gave them more opportunities to score. For example, Tyrann Mathieu picked off Brady in the second quarter, but it was nullified on a soft holding call on Charvarius Ward. As a result, Brady hit Gronkowski for a 17-yard touchdown to end that drive, extending the lead to 11 points. Let’s also take a look at the end of the first half.
On a deep route for Mike Evans, Chiefs cornerback, Bashaud Breeland, tripped and fell to the ground and inadvertently tripped up Evans, resulting in a 50-yard pass interference call, giving Tampa Bay the ball deep in KC territory. On that ball from Brady, it was overthrown and uncatchable and on top of that, the two got tangled up, resulting in a weak call.
Later on that drive, Tyrann Mathieu was penalized twice on horrible calls. The first one was in the endzone when the Honey Badger was defending Evans and was called for pass interference, which was the worst call of the night. There was no contact between Mathieu and Evans deeming PI, and the ball was overthrown, out of bounds by Brady, and was uncatchable. As a result, the Bucs had first and goal on the one-yard line and, once again, capped it off with a Brady TD pass to Antonio Brown.
Following the play, Mathieu was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Before he was flagged, Brady looked at the official and chased down Mathieu to get in his face and say something that the Chiefs All-Pro safety “will not repeat.” Brady instigated the entire thing and got in Mathieu’s face, but the Honey Badger was penalized.
The refs also made multiple other soft holding calls on the Chiefs defense and missed multiple offsides/neutral zone infractions on the Tampa Bay defense. I also find it hard to believe that the Buccaneers secondary was not holding throughout the game, especially with how soft the calls were against Kansas City.
An interesting anecdote from this season is that the Chiefs had five games of 10-plus penalties this season. Three of those games came with Carl Cheffers as the head official, and that is who the lead referee was on Sunday.
However, the officiating did not cause Kansas City the game and the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs did not do anywhere close to enough to win.
Before I dive into the offensive and defensive struggles, there is a simple way to describe what happened. A football game is won and lost in the battle of the trenches between the offensive and defensive line. The Chiefs lost both battles on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The defense had constant trouble on Sunday. The unit could not effectively stop the rushing attack from Tampa Bay. The duo of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, combined to rush for 150 yards and a score throughout the game. Multiple big chunk gains via the run on first down and the big 27-yard TD run from Fournette.
The secondary had a tough challenge going against the arsenal of Evans, Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. They struggled leaving guys open over the middle of the field. They also failed to take advantage of opportunities to get off the field on third down with multiple conversions that kept them on the field.
Also, the pass rush was non-existent. The Chiefs had to get constant pressure on Brady to force him to make bad throws and they only recorded four pressures throughout the game and one sack, which came in the first quarter from Frank Clark. Brady had all day to throw and a clean pocket throughout the game and he flourished.
Now, let’s move to the offense. There are two things that crushed the offense: dropped passes/receiver performance and offensive line.
The Chiefs’ offense was out of sync the entire game. However, Patrick Mahomes continued to give them opportunities to make plays, and dropped passes really killed any chances of gaining momentum. A dropped pass from Kelce on third down led to the disastrous punt sequence from Townsend and the special teams unit.
As Mahomes made two insane throws while going to the ground, one hit Tyreek Hill in the facemask and fell incomplete on third down. The last one came as Mahomes was midair went off the helmet of Darrell Williams, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Those were plays that should’ve been made by Kelce, Hill, and Williams. If those plays are made, it results in a first down from Kelce, and either two first down and goal opportunities or two touchdowns. Additionally, the receivers were not getting open and failed to get open as Mahomes would be running in the backfield trying to find an outlet in an attempt to avoid being hit.
The other aspect was the offensive line play. Mahomes was only sacked three times throughout the game, but what he did avoid those sacks is insane. He ran for 497 yards prior to throwing the ball or being sacked, which was the most in any game this season. He was pressured a Super Bowl record 29 times in the Big Game. Additionally, the former MVP was pressured in 2.5 seconds or less on more than 40 percent of his 59 dropbacks.
Mahomes did everything he could to avoid the sack and extend plays, but his receivers did not get open. The star quarterback was also pressured the most of any QB in Super Bowl history. The offensive line gave him zero clean pockets throughout the game. Mahomes had to roll out and run or try to improvise to find an open receiver and it didn’t work out. The line let him down and hurt the offense as Mahomes had no time in the pocket and had to rely on his legs to make plays while playing with a severely injured toe.
Finally, the special teams. Tommy Townsend made two mistakes on two straight plays. The first one was he fumbled the snap but sent a great punt deep to make up for it, but a holding call on Ben Niemann led to another attempt. This time, Townsend sent the ball 27 yards, giving the Bucs the ball inside the Chiefs 40-yard line.
On top of that, a neutral zone infraction call on Antonio Hamilton on a Tampa Bay field goal attempt gave them a first down, which resulted in a touchdown, extending the lead to 14-3 instead of 10-3. Mistakes on all three facets of the game set the Chiefs back and were the key reasons why the Chiefs could not get back in the game.
Chiefs Fan Rant
This is where I am going to rant about every aspect of the game, so here we go.
Let’s start with the officials. I am sick and tired of Brady getting calls that will give him an advantage and aid him in getting down the field to score. Let’s be real; the PI on Breeland was soft and the PI on Mathieu at the end of the first half was horrible.
Pair those with the holding on Mathieu’s interception, which was soft and shouldn’t have been called. The officiating was horrible throughout the game. Seeing that the penalty difference was 11 to 4 in favor of Tampa Bay was extremely frustrating as I saw multiple no calls against the Bucs. The officiating was terrible and it definitely affected the course of possessions during the game.
However, the referees horrible officiating did not cause the Chiefs to lose to Super Bowl LV. It was the mistakes and poor performances throughout the game. The defense has to get pressure on the quarterback.
The front office has invested over $200 million on the front four and the two top guys in Jones and Clark didn’t get any pressure on Brady outside of the one sack in the first quarter. The Chiefs needed to get more pressure on Brady to make him force throws.
The linebackers did not play well either. Too many chunk plays were allowed on first down, resulting in eight and nine-yard gains. Hitchens is the run stopper but didn’t have an effect on the run defense. As for the passing defense, Gronkowski had a hay day on the Chiefs. They couldn’t stop him as Brady continuously relied on him throughout the game. The defense did not show up and let Brady go to work and exploit them all game long.
The special teams unit was extremely frustrating. It was boneheaded mistakes that came back to bite the team. If there is one game that you don’t make those stupid mistakes, it is the Super Bowl against Tom Brady, who will take advantage of any mistake. Special teams gave the Buccaneers great field position and a second chance to put the ball in the endzone and they took advantage.
As for the offense, this is the worst performance I have ever seen from them since Mahomes took the reins. The offensive line was pathetic. Mahomes did not have ONE clean pocket throughout the game and was forced to run for his life.
I know that this was the second-string o-line, but that was atrocious. I expected more from them and they are a huge reason why the offense was stagnant and out of sync. Your quarterback should never have to run for nearly 500 yards before being hit or throwing the football.
As for Mahomes, this game is not on him whatsoever. There should be zero slander against him. He did everything he could to keep the team in the game and try to lead a comeback. Mahomes did not play the best game of his career, nor did he play well, but he did not play poorly.
Any quarterback wouldn’t have had success with how the Chiefs offensive line played. Mahomes made two of the most insane throws I have ever seen and both of them should have been caught. He was mid-air on one of them and almost to the ground on the other. The offense was completely out of sync and part of that is on Mahomes, but he isn’t a reason why they lost.
For anyone saying that Mahomes held on to the football too long or should have stepped up in the pocket, I have one question for you; did you watch the game? There was no pocket to step up into throughout the entire game.
And let’s revert to one stat that I mentioned previously. He was pressured in 2.5 seconds or less on over 40 percent of his dropbacks. That is not holding onto the ball too long, it is a lack of protection and no time to throw the ball.
For me, there are two big takeaways from this game. First off, the Chiefs need Eric Fisher on the line. No, he doesn’t make up for all of the trouble throughout the game, but he definitely would have helped throughout. People hate on him because he doesn’t live up to the No. 1 pick status, but he is essential to the offensive line and team.
The left tackle spot is the second most important position for this offense (and any offense) as the LT protects Mahomes’ (and most QB’s) blindside. If the Chiefs do not lose three of their five starting lineman, the game is different, plain and simple.
The second takeaway is that the argument of Patrick Mahomes being carried by his weapons is ridiculous. Mahomes was stranded on an island Sunday. He continued to prove that he is an elite talent and that he will do everything he can to win a ball game.
He did that on Sunday, but the offense wasn’t clicking. Hill, Kelce, and Williams had dropped passes on balls that should have been caught. The receivers did not get open to give Mahomes an outlet when he needed one. The argument has been ridiculous about Mahomes weapons “carrying him,” but now, it can be and should be put to rest.
It is also time for the Chiefs to move on from Bashaud Breeland and Sammy Watkins. Breeland has been known to be one of the more aggressive cornerbacks in the NFL. This leads to him being called for multiple holding and pass interference calls that the team cannot afford anymore. Breeland has definitely had moments of greatness and made big plays, but it is time to go in a different direction. The secondary has some talented youth with L’Jarius Sneed, Charvarius Ward, and Rashad Fenton.
As for Watkins, I am extremely fed up. The Chiefs signed him to a three-year, $48 million deal before the 2018 season, and he has missed 16 games, including the Wild Card game against Cleveland and AFC Championship against Buffalo this postseason. He returned for the Super Bowl and did nothing.
He did not record one reception as he failed to get open. Watkins has had some great games in a Chiefs uniform, including his three-touchdown game against Jacksonville in 2019 and a huge catch in Super Bowl LIV. However, his lack of dependability and production are points to prove that the Chiefs need to go in a different direction.
I believe that the situation surrounding Chiefs outside linebackers coach and Andy Reid’s son, Britt Reid, impacted the team and was a distraction. Andy Reid was distracted during the game and it had an impact on the team. Nobody on the team will say that it impacted them, but with Britt needing surgery, it is going to be on the mind of Reid and the entire team.
The entire situation is upsetting and it hurts to see that happen to anyone and I hope everyone can keep fighting and my prayers go out to everyone involved.
This was one of the most frustrating games that I have watched any Chiefs team play. They looked bad and it is easily the worst game they played with Mahomes as the starter.
What the Chiefs Need to Improve on
After Super Bowl LV, there are definitely areas that the Chiefs need to improve as they will look to win three straight AFC Championships next year. The areas that need improvement are offensive line, linebacker, defensive line, and wide receiver.
The most obvious answer is the offensive line. After what I described as a “pathetic” performance, the Chiefs need to address the front five before next year. The good news is that Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has said that he will be returning to the team and Lucas Niang will make his rookie debut as well.
There are a few question marks as well. Is Mitchell Schwartz retiring? The last time he hit the field was Week 6 against Buffalo, which he left early with an injury. The Chiefs have to monitor that situation, as well as Eric Fisher’s. What is the timeline for his return after tearing his Achilles?
The Chiefs have to invest in other options in case he isn’t ready to go. The other question with Fisher is the contract. His cap hit is over $15 million next year and the Chiefs will need him to restructure or take a pay cut. If he declines to do so, he could be cut.
The way I see it is that the Chiefs have three pieces for the offensive line next year. Lucas Niang will be a starter on the line next year, where is to be determined. He could start at right tackle if Schwartz does retire, or be the replacement for Fisher if he can’t play next year or is cut.
LDT is will take over at right guard, which is his natural position. Osemele is likely gone in free agency after tearing tendons in both his knees earlier in the season. LDT will be a big piece on the line next season as he returns from his valiant decision to go help the fight against COVID-19 in Canada.
The third piece that I think is set on the offensive line is Nick Allegretti. The former seventh-round pick came in during the season and played relatively well, proving himself. I think he will be the starting center next year as that is his natural position, dating back to his time at Illinois.
As for the rest of the line, it will come down to free agency and the NFL Draft. Some guys I personally really like in the draft are Sam Cosmi (OT out of Texas), Landon Dickerson (IOL out of Alabama), Liam Eichenberg (OT from Notre Dame), and Teven Jenkins (OT from Oklahoma State).
There are pieces that they can add in free agency as well. Players like Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff are out of the price range for the Chiefs, but players like Joe Thuney, Russell Okung, and Alejandro Villanueva could be additions to the line. I wouldn’t mind bringing Osemele back to take over the left guard spot as he was a great presence upfront on the line to start the season.
As for the linebacker position, it comes down to mainly the draft. Damien Wilson is set to hit the free-agent market, who might not re-sign. Also, Ben Niemann is a restricted free agent and I don’t anticipate the Chiefs bringing him back. This leaves them with Anthony Hitchens and Willie Gay at the position. In free agency, players like K.J. Wright and Denzel Perryman can be two targets at a cheaper price tag.
In the draft, I really like Zaven Collins out of Tulsa and Nick Bolton from Mizzou, but those two are projected to be taken before the Chiefs pick at 31. Players that will be closer to the Chiefs’ range would be Dylan Moses out of Alabama and Chazz Surratt out of North Carolina. The Chiefs need to address the linebacker position and there aren’t a ton of options.
As for the defensive line, they need to bring someone in opposite of Frank Clark. The Chiefs had Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor split time, but neither one really proved to be the guy that can play full time. They need to add some depth on the defensive line to get someone opposite of Clark and to get help inside with Chris Jones.
Derrick Nnadi is a solid piece and Tershawn Wharton was a great UDFA addition, but another piece would be ideal in stopping the run. The primary goal is to add depth on the inside and find that guy on the outside to complement the Shark.
Taco Charlton only played in seven games before suffering a season-ending injury. He collected two sacks and four quarterback hits, along with a forced fumble. I wouldn’t mind seeing him back in a Chiefs uniform next season.
I know it is weird to see the wide receiver position on this list, but hear me out. The Chiefs are set to have Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins hit the free-agent market. If I’m Brett Veach, I’d let them walk and find more dependable replacements.
Mecole Hardman is not ready to be the No. 2 receiver and you need to add get someone more dependable than Watkins. T.Y. Hilton and Marvin Jones are cheaper options that could serve as a solid No. 2 piece. Also, if there is a good fit in Day two or three of the draft, I would definitely be happy with adding a young receiver.
What is Next for the Chiefs?
The Chiefs have a to-do list of things they have to accomplish. The first thing they have to do is sign Eric Bieniemy to an extension. His contract is up and he is a free agent as the Chiefs did not extend him, thinking he would be a head coach following this season.
Now, the Chiefs will work to retain their Offensive Coordinator, and I do not see any scenario where he isn’t the OC for KC next season. It is time to give him the deal that makes him the heir-apparent; the successor to Andy Reid. There is no excuse as to why Bieniemy shouldn’t have a head coaching job right now.
Bieniemy is one of the best coordinators in the league and the Chiefs should give him the deal that locks him in long-term to where he takes over when Big Red decides to retire. Reid and Mahomes are dangerous together and so would Bieniemy and Mahomes. I want him to take over when Reid leaves and it is becoming more and more likely. The one way to really prove it is by giving Bieniemy a long-term deal.
The second thing to do is sign All-Pro safety, Tyrann Mathieu, to an extension. Mathieu has been a key piece of the defense in his production and as a leader. He deserves a contract extension and the Chiefs cannot let him walk.
In two seasons with Kansas City, Mathieu has 10 interceptions and 21 passes defended in coverage. Additionally, he has set a career-high in sacks in 2019, and interceptions in 2020. The Chiefs cannot do what John Elway has done with Justin Simmons, which is not sign him to an extension and risk having him walk in free agency.
The next thing is to find ways to open up cap space. There are multiple pieces for restructuring. the top two are Frank Clark, who has a $25 million cap hit next season, which is the largest on the team, and Eric Fisher with his $15 million cap hit.
They have to restructure or take pay cuts to find ways to keep key players and add new pieces. Other players include Anthony Hitchens ($10 million cap hit) and Mitchell Schwartz if he doesn’t retire ($9 million cap hit). It is essential for the Chiefs to open up cap space as they get closer to the Mahomes extension hitting the books.
The others are what I just stated above. Adding pieces on the offense and defensive line, along with linebacker and wide receiver. Whether it comes in the draft or in free agency, it is essential for the Chiefs to address these areas.
The final piece is to start talks with Tyreek Hill on another extension. He is a free agent after the 2022 season and is a crucial piece for the offense. An extension isn’t essential right now, but to start talks will be beneficial before entering the final two years of his deal.
Sunday night was an extremely tough night. The Chiefs played their worst game all season and Mahomes suffered the worst loss of his career as it was the first time the Chiefs lost by more than one possession when he starts under center. However, the future is bright in Kansas City as the Chiefs have the best future out of all 32 NFL teams for the next 10-15 plus years with Mahomes.
The Chiefs will be back. They have one of the best teams in the NFL, if not the best team. I am proud of this team and I am proud to be a diehard and lifelong fan. I hate that we don’t get to have football until September.
I think that the Chiefs will be back to the Super Bowl and represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI by winning three straight AFC Championships. I also believe they will win Super Bowl LVI and raise the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in three years.
If there is one thing I know about Kansas City sports from my entire life is that they know how to bounce back. The Royals lost the 2014 World Series and came back by winning the 2015 World Series. The Chiefs lost in AFC Championship in 2018-19 and bounced back by winning Super Bowl LIV one year later in 2019-20. They fell in the Super Bowl in 2020-21 and they will bounce back and win Super Bowl LVI in 2021-2022.
The last time the Chiefs lost in the playoffs, Brett Veach went out and added pieces to the team, including Tyrann Mathieu. I expect him to do the same thing this offseason.
The loss on Sunday night will only add more fuel to the fire for Mahomes and the team as they will come back and prove why they are the best team in the league and reclaim the crown as Super Bowl Champions.
Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones, and everyone else on the team said that they will be back and are determined. After the game, Mahomes said it was five minutes of silence and thought before it turned to everyone saying they will be back on the grandest stage of them all.
The Chiefs may look a lot different come September, but expect them to be the same as in contending for the Lombardi Trophy.