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You Can’t Quantify Trust, But the Chiefs Have It in Abundance

The "it" factor is generally used for a singular player but in the Chiefs' case, it's a group.


In spades, it's something that can make a relationship grow stronger. In deficiency, it can break bonds and lead to an unfavorable outcome for everyone involved. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they haven't hosted the AFC Championship Game four seasons in a row for no apparent reason. The players on the team trust each other more than any other in the NFL, and that was never more apparent than it was late in the Chiefs' Divisional Round contest against the Buffalo Bills.

Every time Buffalo marched down the field and took the lead, Kansas City was tasked with accomplishing something that many NFL teams are unable to do on a regular basis: completing a fourth-quarter comeback. Not only did the Chiefs do that multiple times, but their final one came on a drive that began with 13 seconds left on the game clock. They, of course, went on to win in overtime.

The mere fact that the Chiefs' offense is capable of pulling off seemingly insurmountable feats isn't all that shocking anymore. It's almost expected at this point. How can that general expectation not be in their favor when they have the best quarterback and tight end in football, along with a top-five wide receiver? All three members of the Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill trio have been playing together in a full-time capacity for four years now, and they've constructed something that is only made possible by their immense amount of trust in one another. After the Chiefs' Sunday win, Mahomes said his message to Kelce was one of belief.

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“Same thing man," Mahomes said. "I just love you man. He made plays. Everybody did, but guys like Tyreek and Travis make plays when it counted, and they get so much attention every single week, and they just continue to battle. They battle and they battle, and they make plays when it counts. They did today. The play to Tyreek and then the play to Trav, those are two players on earth that can make those plays.”

The plays Mahomes is referencing — primarily — are the two passing plays it took Kansas City to get into field goal range for the tying shot as time expired in regulation. There were also instances in which Hill and Kelce made things happen in ways only they knew how, such as Hill's catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown and Kelce's impressive game-winning haul in overtime. No matter how dire the straits were, the Chiefs' best players made franchise-altering plays when it mattered the most. Talent was a major component of that, but trust was the foundation.

Speaking of trust and foundation, those served as springboards for the Chiefs' remarkable in-season turnaround. Most locker rooms would begin dividing amidst a highly-disappointing 3-4 start to the year, but not Kansas City's locker room. Mahomes and company believed in each other to eliminate mistakes and turn things around. Even on the other side of the ball, Steve Spagnuolo was trusted to bring his unit from a historically poor group to one of the better-performing attacks in all of football. He did so, allowing everyone involved to emerge on the other side of the adversity stronger.

One could even take a look back at general manager Brett Veach's decisions as heavily backed by trust. He's the one who campaigned so often for the Chiefs to draft Mahomes in the first place. He overhauled the team's defense following the 2018 campaign and then rebuilt an entire offensive line in the spring and summer of 2021. As an organization, at all levels, the Chiefs are different. They set themselves apart from the rest of the NFL, and a large reason why is because they believe in each other's abilities.

The Chiefs don't do much finger-pointing. They don't blame outside forces for their shortcomings. They accept responsibility at an individual level and on a broader scale, they demand that those around them match their desire to be great. That's a constant with Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones, Reid, and Veach. The amount of success the Chiefs have enjoyed over the past half-decade didn't happen by accident — they've engineered it to be this way. Regardless of how their playoff run ends, and even if they come up short of winning another Super Bowl, they trust each other to get back on the horse and keep riding in pursuit of better days.