KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have played in the past two Super Bowls and have their sights set on participating in another one this season.
That doesn’t mean quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his teammates and coaches won’t take a few moments to appreciate their sixth straight AFC West title, which they clinched on Sunday via a 36-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.
“I do 100%, this year as much as ever,” Mahomes said of appreciating another division championship.
Mahomes said the greater appreciation for this season’s title stems from the way the Chiefs started the campaign. They were 3-4 at the end of October, and merely making the playoffs as a wild-card entry looked iffy, much less securing a bid to the tournament by way of a division championship.
“You look at the AFC West (and) every team is still battling for a playoff spot,” Mahomes said. “It’s a tough division. We have more goals we want to go after, but this was the first one.”
No team had ever won six straight AFC West titles before Sunday. The Raiders won five straight in the 1970s, as did the Denver Broncos from 2011 to 2015. The Chiefs, meanwhile, had never won so much as back-to back division championships until their current streak.
“I remember in those early years being excited any year when we were in the running to win the division,” said Clark Hunt, who became the Chiefs’ chairman in 2006. “I never thought about winning the division five or six times in a row.”
The Chiefs faced the Steelers without tight end Travis Kelce, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. And they lost two key players, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, during the victory. Mathieu had a quad injury. The Chiefs initially announced a collarbone injury for Edwards-Helaire, but coach Andy Reid said he injured his shoulder.
They still cruised to an easy win.
The Chiefs led 30-0 in the third quarter before the Steelers scored. Mahomes was 23-of-30 for 258 yards and three touchdowns before he was removed from the game in the fourth quarter.
In Kelce’s absence, he spread the ball to nine different receivers. Reserve wide receiver Byron Pringle caught a pair of touchdown passes.
The 11-4 Chiefs, who won their eighth straight game, lead the Tennessee Titans by one game in the race for the AFC’s top playoff seed.
That would be the next big prize for the Chiefs. For now, they will be content with celebrating the one they earned on Sunday. Players were given division-champion hats and T-shirts after the game, and at least some were wearing the new apparel.
“We don’t take any of those experiences for granted at all,” Reid said. “There’s a lot of sweat that goes into this, a lot of effort. … I’m proud of our guys, how they handled it. I’m proud of our coaches, how they handled it.”