Recounting the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs historic run to a Super Bowl Championship

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Patrick Mahomes #15 greets head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs after defeating San Francisco 49ers by 31 - 20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Patrick Mahomes #15 greets head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs after defeating San Francisco 49ers by 31 - 20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 19: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs on his way to scoring a 27 yard touchdown in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Run, and Patrick Mahomes evolution as a dual threat

After Mahomes’ absolutely jaw dropping campaign in 2018, there were exceptionally high expectations for his 2019 campaign. This wasn’t surprising. In 2018, only his second year as a professional athlete and his first as a starting quarterback, Mahomes joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterback in the 99-year history of the league to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards. Even though the team didn’t ultimately hoist the Lombardi, missing figuratively and physically by mere inches, it was still a year to remember.

Unfortunately, Mahomes dealt with injuries throughout most of 2019. From the second quarter of the first game through week nine, he sustained multiple injuries including a high ankle sprain and a dislocated knee. These all prevented him, until late in the season, from harnessing his athletic capabilities to their fullest extent. Some in the national media even began to forget just how special Mahomes was, with him often taking a back seat to a dual threat quarterback to the East.

This all changed during the team’s winning streak, but it took special form in the playoffs. Against both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, Mahomes athletic abilities shined in a way few had expected. With 53 rushing yards in each performance, Mahomes joined Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks in the history of the league to throw for 250 yards, run for 50 yards, and throw for three touchdowns in a single playoff campaign.

This feat symbolically culminated against the Titans in what has been deemed “the Run,” in which Mahomes scrambled to the outside, dodged multiple defenders, and galloped 27 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. To top it all off, Mahomes 29 rushing yards in the Super Bowl and 135 total in the playoffs places him second all-time behind Joe Montana’s Super Bowl winning campaign in 1984 in which he had 144. Ironically, had he not lost 15 yards on the kneel downs that sealed the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, he’d be all alone in first place. There’s always next year.

"Hail! Hail! To the king of the Chiefs Kingdom forever, because today the team that Lamar Hunt founded has just won Lamar Hunt’s trophy in the stadium that was Lamar Hunt’s dream. Kansas City is the AFC champion! They are headed to Miami for Super Bowl LIV! – Mitch Holthus (AFC Championship Game)"

Mahomes’ and Reid’s combined brilliance

One of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl, if not the biggest play, was the 3rd and 15 play where Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for a much needed first down. This was the precursor and catalyst to the Chiefs offensive onslaught to end the game.

Following the game, Tim Hasselbeck harped on the 49ers defense for what he called a busted coverage. This seemed to be the common take, that the 49ers defensive backs made a mistake. Dan Orlovsky painted a different scenario, one that highlighted not just the brilliant pass by Mahomes but also the brilliant play call.

Andy Reid called a formation the Chiefs had run a number of times, and he happened to know exactly how the 49ers would react to the usual formation. Given that expectation, instead of having Hill run a vertical route to the post, Reid threw in a wrinkle, suggested by Mahomes, that sent hill deep to the left sideline. The safety who was supposed to account for Hill, having likely seen the Chiefs use this formation a number of times, bit on the shallow route by Watkins leaving Hill wide open for the biggest play of the game.

Reid and Mahomes dialed up a play that worked to perfection when they needed it the most. Without Chiefs coach and quarterback thinking in perfect tandem, this play call doesn’t happen.

"We wanted to get him that trophy because he deserved it. The work he puts in day in and day out, I don’t think he sleeps. I try to beat him in and I never can. He is someone that works harder than anyone I’ve ever known, and he deserved this. I’m glad I could get that trophy for him. – Patrick Mahomes (Following the Super Bowl)"

That said, Mahomes is likely one of the few quarterbacks who could make that play given the circumstances. Mahomes took what amounted to an 11-step drop to give the deep route by Hill time to develop. He then delivered a perfect pass, having to step into an oncoming defender. As Chiefs fans we’ve become spoiled with “Mahomes’ Magic” but truth be told, this was an incredible play.

Per ESPN’s Get Up, this season including the playoffs on plays of 3rd and 15 yards or longer, the average quarterback rating across the league was a dreadful 4.7. With an average yards per attempt of 7.9, conversion was rare.

However, those numbers don’t include Mahomes. In that same situation, in both the regular season and playoffs, Mahomes had an insane rating of 99.9. The moral of the story is, that 3rd and 15 play required a both brilliant play caller and a brilliant quarterback to get the job done.

"Chiefs need some Mahomes magic. Launches, down the middle, Hill! Open, caught! And they get it, Kansas City the big play! – Joe Buck (Call on 3rd & 15)"