The 12-1 Kansas City Chiefs clinched their fifth straight AFC West championship with a 33-27 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. As defending Super Bowl champions, they have bigger goals than a mere division title.
Since the Chiefs began play as the Dallas Texans in the old American Football League in 1960, they’ve had years when they would have settled for a winning season, much less a playoff appearance or a division title. Things are no longer that way, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take a minute or two to appreciate their accomplishment.
“One hundred percent,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tied a career high with three interceptions but still threw for almost 400 yards. “I’ve been lucky enough to be around an organization that’s been able to win the AFC West every year I’ve been here, but I still appreciate every single time.
“These things don’t come easy. You have to battle every single offseason. You have to battle every training camp. During the season, you have to go through adversity.”
The Chiefs had never won back-to back division championships until the current streak, which began in 2016.
“They don’t give these championships away,” coach Andy Reid said. “I’m proud of the guys for that. We all know we need to keep going. It’s a nice accomplishment for the whole organization.”
The Chiefs last week clinched a playoff berth by beating the Denver Broncos. Their next regular-season goal is to secure the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed and the first-round postseason bye.
The 12-1 Chiefs are batting the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC’s top seed.
The Chiefs had Super Bowl championships and division titles in mind in 2013 when they hired Reid, who had coached the Eagles for the previous 14 seasons. In Philadelphia, Reid won six NFC East titles, the longest streak being four straight.
“If you looked at Andy’s success in Philadelphia, certainly in the back of my mind I hoped we could replicate that,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “I think he’s achieved that and maybe taken it to another level.
“We’re blessed to have him. We’re blessed to have the pairing of he and Patrick Mahomes. I think the two are a great combination. They work so well together and really maximize each other’s strengths.”