(Reuters) – “Run it back.” Those three words formed the mantra the Kansas City Chiefs adopted this season in their bid to become the first team in 16 years to repeat as Super Bowl champions and position themselves as the NFL’s next dynasty.
The Chiefs, who ended their 50-year wait for a second Super Bowl title in 2020, can achieve the rare feat of repeating as champions when they face the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in the NFL’s showcase event.
The last team to win consecutive Super Bowl titles were the 2003-04 New England Patriots who were led by current Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
At the helm of Kansas City’s explosive offense is 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes, who in only three years as a starter in the NFL has enjoyed huge success and established himself as one of the game’s best quarterbacks.
With a win on Sunday, the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player would become the first starting quarterback in NFL history with two championship rings by the age of 25.
Buccaneers defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers, whose unit will be the first line of defense against Kansas City’s passing and running plays, said limiting the damage Mahomes can inflict will be a tall order.
“He’s such a dynamic quarterback, he can make all the throws from different arm angles and he’s a tremendous athlete so he can get out and run for first downs,” said Rodgers.
“He really moves around to buy time for his dynamic receivers … so that poses a big, big task for us heading into Sunday’s game.”
The Chiefs have plenty of other elite playmakers in their league-leading offense, including speedy receiver Tyreek Hill and dominant tight end Travis Kelce.
In their last game, Hill set a post-season franchise record with 172 receiving yards in the AFC Championship two weeks ago while Kelce’s 13 receptions that day were the most in a single conference championship game in the Super Bowl era.
The Chiefs, well aware that only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl champions, returned this season with the bulk of their starting players on the roster and used “Run it Back” as both a marketing slogan and rallying cry in the locker room.
“Obviously we are here for the second straight year but you never know if you’ll get another opportunity to be in this game,” said Mahomes.
“That’s a huge deal and we are going to try and really not take any day for granted and prepare ourselves to be the best that we can be on Super Bowl Sunday.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)