Now that everyone’s heartbeats have slowed and breaths have been taken, the dust has cleared on many outcomes of last Sunday’s Divisional Round victory. The multitudes of records broken, the astronomical odds that were overcome, the overall depletion of celebratory fireworks, all of these things have been — and will continue to be — spoken about as legacy.
Rightfully so; but there is one aspect of this game that needs to be discussed that means much more than a singular accomplishment, accolade, or Escalade. Yes, pulling out an extremely convincing “W” is amazing. Players such as Mahomes, Kelce, Sorensen, Clark, et al. absolutely deserve their individual achievements being acknowledged.
But the truth of the matter is that the biggest takeaway from last Sunday is what it means to the team as a whole.
There is a reason very few teams overcome the depth of deficit the Kansas City Chiefs managed to climb out from — it’s hard. Emotionally, physically, but more important, mentally. Facing a 24-point margin in the playoffs, in front of a restless home crowd, against an opponent that appears to be “on fire,” is no easy task. Heads hang, willpower recedes, and more often than not, complacency begins to set in:
For most athletes, it’s natural. Hell, for most humans it’s just the way of life. Adversity in its most harrowing form has the ability to take the tenacity of strong people and crush it at their feet.
It’s also what breeds legends. Situations such as the one the Chiefs faced on Sunday almost always end in heartbreaking defeat. Lesser teams and leaders fail constantly in these circumstances, and when they do, it’s almost viewed as acceptable — well, at least for the players that weren’t the cause of the initial meltdown.
Had Mahomes played lights out and lost the game by three points, he would still have almost no blame to lay before his efforts. Dropped passes, special teams gaffes, and some early inexplicable defensive blunders would be pointed to as the culprits. Again, rightfully so.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, in true legendary form, Patrick Mahomes rallied his offensive cast and willed them to victory:
That is true leadership. That is all heart and spirit. That is what begins the story of legends.
But the most important aspect of all of this is not just Mahomes ability to drag his team from the depths. It isn’t about Kelce rebounding from a weird first quarter, or Sorensen making a couple critical plays on special teams. It isn’t even about the defense stepping up to allow the offense to repent from their earlier sins.
It’s about team galvanization.
In all probability, the Kansas City Chiefs will not find themselves as far behind in another game this year as they did on Sunday — but that doesn’t mean they won’t need some in-game heroics and optimism at some point. There will be more adversity. There will be more pitfalls, mistakes, and errors. It’s part of the game.
The fans have been put on notice to never doubt this group again for the remainder of the postseason. With the amount of failure and loss the people of Kansas City have dealt with over the years, it’s understandable that some of them will have a hard time letting go of those memories.
These players, however, are different. They area team of professionals, strengthened and forged in the fires of this season as a whole — but most importantly in this last game. It’s okay to acknowledge a bad situation, it’s fine to see the odds before you and contemplate the likelihood of success, it’s perfectly normal to assess the struggles that stand in your way.
Now, however, they know that nothing is insurmountable. Nothing is outside of their grasp. Nothing is impossible.
This team has proven it.