We’re living in a new era with the Chiefs. The playoff losing streak was a rough era, not to mention the disasters that were the 2008 and 2012 seasons. We all see it, but I’m going to break it down a little further.
The 1960s were a huge success for the Chiefs. When the AFL merger with the NFL was complete, the Chiefs won more games than any other franchise winning 87 games. The Chiefs also won more AFL championships than any either franchise. The decade finished with the Chiefs winning Super Bowl IV. They would make the post-season again in 1971, but the team lost to the Dolphins in what is still the longest game in NFL history.
The years that would follow, would be a dark time for the franchise. Between the departure of Hank Stram in 1975 and the arrival of Marty Schottenheimer in 1989, the Chiefs had a record of 89-128-1 and only managed one playoff appearance in that time frame. They also had five different coaches in that time frame, including Marv Levy who would go on to a Hall of Fame coaching career with the Bills.
On January 24, 1989, the Chiefs hired Marty Schottenheimer. Three months later, they drafted Derrick Thomas who would anchor the defense through the 90s. The impact of Marty and DT was felt immediately as the Chiefs improved from 4-11-1 to 8-7-1. By the second year of the Marty Era, the Chiefs found themselves in playoffs but lost after one game, something Chiefs fans would become used to. The Chiefs would win a single playoff game in 1991 and two in 1993 after trading for Joe Montana, but could never make the Super Bowl. In the 90s, the Chiefs would make the playoffs seven times but only could manage 3 playoff wins. Of those seven playoff appearances, the Chiefs didn’t win a single playoff game five times.
Marty resigned following the 1998 season. Following the tragic death of Derrick Thomas on February 8, 2000, and two unsuccessful seasons under Gunther Cunningham, the Chiefs brought in Dick Vermeil who won a Super Bowl with the Rams, however, even a Super Bowl-winning coach couldn’t fix the Chiefs playoff woes. He took them to the playoffs once and the Chiefs would lose after one game again to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Colts.
Vermeil’s tenure would be followed up what was probably the darkest era in Chiefs history with disastrous seasons led by Herm Edwards, Todd Haley, and Romeo Crennel. In this time frame, from 2006 to 2012, the Chiefs were 36-60. Only the Lions and Rams won fewer games in that time frame. In both playoff appearances that time frame, the Chiefs were dominated losing by 15 and 23 points.
On January 4, 2013, the Chiefs hired Andy Reid. In his first season, he took the Chiefs from a 2-14 record and being near or at the bottom of the league in almost every major category to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance. However, the Chiefs would lose in what is one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history to the Colts. That loss extended the Chiefs playoff losing streak to eight games, setting what was at the time a new NFL record. The Chiefs would finally exercise their playoff demons in 2015 against the Texans 30-0 but followed that up with a loss to the Patriots. The following two years, the Chiefs would go one-and-done both seasons, both home losses, extending the playoff losing streak in Arrowhead to six.
Enter Patrick Lavon Mahomes II. In year one under Patrick Mahomes, he ends the home playoff streak and takes us to our first AFC Championship in 25 years, but would lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Patriots. In the 2019-20 playoffs, the Chiefs began their run defeating the Texans 51-31, taking the Chiefs back to the AFC Championship. The Chiefs would avenge a regular-season loss to the Titans with a 35-24 win giving the Chiefs their first-ever AFC Championship and sending the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in 50 years. The Chiefs, would, of course, win their second Super Bowl in franchise history. The following year, the Chiefs would make the Super Bowl again, but this time, lose to the Buccaneers.
Prior to Mahomes, the Chiefs hadn’t come close to a Super Bowl in 25 years, hadn’t played in one in (at the time) 49 years, and lost six straight home playoff games and 11 of the last 12 playoff games overall. With Mahomes at quarterback, the Chiefs have won 7 playoff games (six at home), two AFC Championships, and one Super Bowl. Prior to Mahomes, the Chiefs also had never won a playoff game in back-to-back seasons, but have now won a playoff game in four straight seasons.
Patrick Mahomes has helped turned this franchise around. He is living proof of how important a quarterback is to a team’s success. Barring a major injury, this isn’t changing any time soon. We should count ourselves lucky we get to experience a new era in Chiefs history.