No NFL team ever has won three straight Super Bowls. But with Mahomes in his prime, Andy Reid vowing Sunday night to coach on, Rashee Rice developing into a true No. 1 wide receiver and the best defense of the Mahomes era in place, the Chiefs will enter next season with a legitimate chance to pull it off.
“It’s an ongoing thing in the NFL,” Mahomes said. “I think Tom [Brady] said it best: Once you win that championship and you have those parades and you get those rings, you’re not the champion anymore. You have to come back with that same mentality.”
The Chiefs became the NFL’s first back-to-back Super Bowl champs since the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. They have succeeded the Patriots as the NFL’s reigning dynasty. They’ve played in four of the past five Super Bowls and have won three of them. They’ve played in six straight AFC championship games.
Mahomes is just 28. And as long as the Chiefs have him, it seems, they will be in the Super Bowl conversation.
“He comes to work every day humble, wanting to be great,” Reid said. “He challenges the guys around him to be great every play and never flinches. You drop the ball: ‘We’ll get the next one.’ Or ‘Listen, I need you in this spot right here.’ It’s not like chewing them out or any of that. … [He’s] a pleasure to coach, an absolute pleasure to coach.”
Reid turns 66 next month and faces annual questions about retirement. But he said Sunday night that though he hadn’t had time to think much about it, he planned to return to the Chiefs next season. He could be in line to receive a contract upgrade.
“I believe he’s the best coach of all time,” Mahomes said. “I know he didn’t have the trophies yet [when he arrived in Kansas City], and I have a lot of respect for some of those great coaches. But the way he’s able to navigate every single team he has, continue to have success no matter where he’s at — and for me, he brings out the best of me because he lets me be me. … He doesn’t try to make me anyone else. I don’t think I’d be the quarterback that I am if I didn’t have Coach Reid being my head coach.”
The Chiefs showed their championship mettle this season. They lost the NFL’s season-opening game to the Detroit Lions. They had a stretch in November and December in which they lost four of six. The NFL disciplined Reid and Mahomes for their conduct toward the officials following a controversial December loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tight end Travis Kelce was plagued by injuries. Mahomes lacked a reliable wideout until Rice began to put things together late in his rookie season.
“It means more,” Mahomes said. “To be able to battle through that adversity and come out better on the other side, I think it prepared us for the playoffs. And, obviously, we’ve had a lot of great playoff runs. But this is going to be up there because just the way that we kind of continued to battle whenever times weren’t great.”
The Chiefs had to go on the road to beat the Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs and the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. Even Sunday, they had to overcome deficits of 10-0, 16-13, 19-16 and 22-19 before outlasting the 49ers, 25-22, in the second Super Bowl ever decided in overtime.
“I appreciate the first one because it took me a thousand years to get into the Super Bowl, at least to be able to hold that Lombardi Trophy,” Reid said. “So I appreciate every day that I have to do this.”
General Manager Brett Veach will have to deal with a list of prospective unrestricted free agents that includes two defensive standouts, lineman Chris Jones and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. The Chiefs and Jones have a history of contentiousness over his contract. He signed a revised one-year deal in September after his holdout extended through the first game of the season.
Kelce, 34, appears poised to keep playing. Rice’s development could help the offense be more consistent next season.
“He wants to be great,” Mahomes said. “And for someone to be in this offense and learn the offense from Coach Reid and continue to get better and better, I think he’s just at the beginning of where he’s going to end up being at. … He lives in Texas, so he’ll get to see me a lot this offseason as we continue to try to make him one of the top receivers in this league.”
The Chiefs didn’t always resemble the Chiefs this season. But by Sunday night, they were in their customary spot.
“It’s culture, man,” Mahomes said. “I got brought into this culture. Alex Smith was leading this team. They had the pieces in place, and Coach Reid was the ultimate leader. I got brought in. I just kind of try to exemplify that and keep pushing them to be even better. And that’s why in moments like this, we get guys [to] come through. And it truly is special. It really is special, just to be able to say we’re back-to-back champs.”