MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – That's the limit of sport, isn't it? Sometimes the heavenly scriptwriters who make all this possible drag you through bunkers and mud piles and patches of black ice and all sorts of windmills before you get to the top of the mountain.
Sometimes you are the Cubs, with 108 blank Octobern in the books, and they make you visit additional innings and survive a rain lag in Game 7 of the World Series. Sometimes you are the Red Sox, carrying an 86-year-old load on your back, and they let you win three games against your old rivals before rushing to the duck boats.
Sometimes you are the Rangers, and before your fans can die in peace, you have to endure a few Game 7s that stop your heart and hurt your nerves. Sometimes it is not easy to be a sports fan. Nobody ever said it would.
And sometimes you're the Kansas City bosses who survive one playoff toughness after another over 50 championship-free football seasons. And even if you have a season like this, they increase your difficulty every week. You fall back 24-0 in a game, recover. They fall back 10-0 in the next game, recover.
And on Sunday, in the biggest game the franchise played in half a century, 8 minutes and 53 seconds into the season, you saw the San Francisco 49ers 20 to 10 points ahead. Ten points down, less than ten, to face one of the strongest and stingiest defenses in the world.
If the chiefs wanted to become champions, if they wanted to deliver the most dedicated legion of fans in five decades, they had to overcome it. That's all. That's it.
Andy Reid, a star-crossed football coach, screamed into the ear of his star-studded quarterback on the sidelines.
"Keep firing, keep believing in your people," Reid said to Patrick Mahomes, who had been less than himself for most of the day, who had thrown two picks, and who looked a little sore armed at large spots first 45 minutes of the game.
"We have been preaching it all season," said Mahomes. "Our boys keep fighting."
The Niners had all the momentum. You had the game on your neck. Two hits, the Lombardi Trophy, which comes close to her hands. At such a close sixth championship, players could almost see the letters engraved in the cup.
"We played as well as we hoped," said Richard Sherman. "We were right there."
The chiefs had to be perfect. And they were perfect. There was a 10-game, 83-yard ride that melted less than three minutes from the clock, the key game a third-and-15 of their own 35, a do-or-die call that only a quarterback had the gifts, gravity, and chewing gum from Mahomes would even try 44 yards to Tyreek Hill, let alone complete it, which somehow found a gaping green cave in the defense of the 49ers.
It was 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. Now it was the bosses' defense that had to face their season, taking a three-and-three win and getting a three-and-one win.
"We had no doubt that we would play there," said tyrant Mathieu, KC's security professional. “We had such a good season and were so well prepared. I knew we were ready. "
And it felt like they were back in the end zone, another key throw from Mahomes, 38 yards from Sammy Watkins, and then a tiptoe touchdown from Damien Williams. The bosses ran 24-20. They met late again.
It ended 31-20. It ended up with red and yellow confetti lying on the field and the Kansas Citians flocking to the places that made their city so unique: the Fire and Light District, Westport and the Country Club Plaza. They love the Royals in Kansas City and their college basketball teams. The chiefs are different. The chiefs are their why and why.
Fifty painful years. And now that.
"Chiefs Nation!" Clark Hunt, son of founder Lamar, dressed like his father, dressed for his Super Bowls in a black blazer with the KC logo on his chest, crowed when it was finally over. "This is for you!"
Fifty years? Piece of cake. Twenty-four – nothing and 10: 0? In the future, everything will feel part of the plan. Ten to eleven in the Super Bowl, the same way they all went after the season to end a drought in the championship in the sweetest way? Why of course? Sometimes that's the only way.