Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl History: The Franchise’s Past in the Big Game
Super Bowl 57 will kick off on February 12 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, but this will not be the first rodeo for either team on football’s biggest stage. The Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl history stretches the entire lifespan of the Big Game, starting in 1966 at Super Bowl I and extending until the 2021 Super Bowl, marking their fourth Super Bowl appearance.
A fresh-faced “Dallas Texans” team won an AFLChampionship in only their third year as a franchise before inevitably taking part in two Super Bowls out of the first four Super Bowls, changing to the more familiar “Kansas City Chiefs” ahead of the 1963 season.
As we wait for the team’s possible third Lombardi trophy and fourth NFL Championship — including the 1962 pre-merger championship — let’s look at the full history of the team’s appearances in the Big Game.
Super Bowl I – Green Bay Packers (35) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10)
- Date: January 15th, 1967
- Announcers: Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, Frank Gifford, and Pat Summerall
- Coaches: Vince Lombardi (Packers), Hank Stram (Chiefs)
- Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
- Attendance: 61,946
- Super Bowl MVP: Packers QB Bart Starr
In what, at the time, “proved” the superiority of the NFL over the AFL, the Green Bay Packers would grind the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive line into the ground. Jim Taylor and Elijah Pitts combined for 28 carries, 101 yards, and three touchdowns, while Chiefs running backs combined for an abysmal 34 yards on 15 carries. MVP quarterback Bart Starr would add 250 yards through the air in the game that would eventually be considered the first Super Bowl, with the now infamous Lombardi Trophy being named after the Packers’ winning head coach.
Though the score inevitably got out of hand in the second half, the Chiefs would kick a late second-quarter field goal to see themselves down by a slim 14-10 margin at halftime. The third and fourth quarter drive results read like a horror story for AFL faithful who hoped that their Championship team would show the NFL what they were made of; Len Dawson threw an interception that was returned for 50 yards before Kansas City went punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, and punt to end the game.
The National Football League Championship Game would feature the Green Bay Packers again that next season, and they would once again when the Super Bowl that year. Following the 1966 season, Vince Lombardi would end up retiring, an exodus of talent would follow, and the Packers wouldn’t make it to another Super Bowl until the 1996 season, thirty years later.
Super Bowl IV – Kansas City Chiefs (23) @ Minnesota Vikings (7)
- Date: January 11th, 1970
- Announcers: Jack Buck, Pat Summerall, Frank Gifford, and Jack Whitaker
- Coaches: Hank Stram (Chiefs), Bud Grant (Vikings)
- Venue: Tulane Stadium (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Attendance: 80,562
- Super Bowl MVP: Chiefs QB Len Dawson
Technically speaking, this would be the final AFL-NFL World Championship Game, as the AFL-NFL merger would take place at season’s end, but each of those Championship Games has since been referred to as the first four Super Bowls. This would be the Chiefs’ —and the AFL as a whole’s— chance at redemption after the NFL side laid the beating down through the first three matchups; 35-10, 33-14, and 16-7, respectively, in chronological order.
Due to the prowess of the NFL teams over the first three matchups, the Minnesota Vikings entered the matchup as huge 13.5-point favorites. Not only is this matchup known for how the American Football League got its first win of the vaunted NFL, but fans of the classic NFL Films series will also note that this is the first head coach to be “miked up” during the game, and Hank Stram delivered in spades.
In the end, head coach and offensive play-caller Stram set forth an effective short-passing attack and a clock-sapping run game to complement a defense that forced five turnovers; three interceptions between Minnesota quarterbacks Joe Kapp and Gary Cuozzo, and two fumbles between Kapp and wide receiver John Henderson.
The decisive victory was a new high-water mark for the franchise, but it would be their final trip to the big dance until another 50 years later.
Super Bowl LIV – Kansas City Chiefs (31) @ San Francisco 49ers (20)
- Date: February 2nd, 2020
- Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, and Chris Myers
- Coaches: Andy Reid (Chiefs), Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
- Venue: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami, Florida)
- Attendance: 62,417
- Super Bowl MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
A fresh-faced Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs into the team’s third Super Bowl appearance after an AFC Championship game that saw the Tennessee Titans allow a near season-high 35 points in a losing effort. It would be the Chiefs’ ninth time topping the 30-point mark during the 2019 season, and the offensive onslaught wouldn’t stop in the season’s final game, as the Chiefs returned to the podium—step in the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, who have the fifth-most game appearances in NFL history.
A relentless offense earned the team their first Super Bowl win in 50 years and the second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Kansas City’s Super Bowl 54 victory came behind an almost impossible comeback, including scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Their explosive plays were not unheard of throughout the 2019 playoffs, as the Chiefs became the first team in NFL football history to come back from a 10+ point deficit in three games within the same season. On the backs of an almost identical offense, MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs made a return to the Super Bowl in 2020.
Super Bowl LV – Kansas City Chiefs (9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)
- Date: February 7th, 2021
- Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, and Evan Washburn
- Coaches: Andy Reid (Chiefs), Bruce Arians (Buccaneers)
- Venue: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay, Florida)
- Attendance: 24,835
- Super Bowl MVP: Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
As much as the Kansas City offense instituted unbridled confidence in the second half of the prior year’s Super Bowl, it was clear from the beginning that this game would not bolster the legend of the Chiefs Super Bowl history. Through Patrick Mahomes’ 56 dropbacks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense would accumulate 31 quarterback pressures while veteran quarterback Tom Brady spent his Sunday evening slicing up the Chiefs’ defense.
It was a tale of two performances between these future Hall of Famers, and it was a hard watch for those rooting for Kansas City for almost the entirety of Super Bowl 55. Luckily due to protocols of the day, the stadium’s seating capacity was limited to 25,000 attendees —marking the least-attended Super Bowl of all time.
Though the performance was one to forget, we’re here in 2023, and Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles for a chance at redemption for the Chiefs Super Bowl history very soon.
How Did the Kansas City Chiefs Get Here?
The Chiefs have been in the playoff limelight since Andy Reid took over as head coach in 2013. They have missed the postseason only once (9-7, 2014). Things have ramped up to an even greater degree since the offensive mastermind was paired with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as the team has now found themselves in the AFC Championship game in the past five seasons. The Chiefs played in Super Bowls in three of the past four seasons as they continue to build a dynasty, and this season they once again build a team that is synonymous with the newest generation of NFL offenses.
In a move that seemed shocking at the time, the Chiefs would ship off their most explosive play-maker, Tyreek Hill, to the Dolphins for a cache of future draft picks but filled his role admirably with several different pieces, including Juju Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, Isiah Pacheco, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. When looking at year-end numbers, you can hardly tell the difference. The team would finish first in play success%, points per drive, total yards per game, passing yards per game, and EPA (expected points added) per play leading up to their Super Bowl berth.
The Chiefs featured back would rotate throughout their 14-win campaign, but Kansas City played tough in the trenches regardless of who was in the backfield.
The biggest question mark heading into Super Bowl 57 will be Patrick Mahomes’ ankle, but the Chiefs are understandably keeping that information under wraps. The team relies heavily on the prospective MVP’s playmaking ability, with his health undoubtedly being the X-factor in the 2022-2023 season finale. The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls with an explosive offensive performance, and they will need more of the same to achieve the franchise’s third Super Bowl victory.