Super Bowl 2023: Chiefs holding onto bad memories from their last championship defeat

PHOENIX — Winning a Super Bowl is special. Patrick Mahomes knows. He has a ring already.

But losing a Super Bowl? That feeling might last even longer. Mahomes knows all about that too.

The last time his Kansas City Chiefs were in the Super Bowl, they were embarrassed. The Chiefs lost 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV

Two years later, that memory hasn't faded.

"That loss, that still stings," Mahomes said. "That motivates you for years."

Many of the Chiefs have been through Super Bowl Opening Night before. They were part of that Super Bowl in Tampa Bay two years ago. The Chiefs are back now, ready to play the Philadelphia Eagles, and they want to make sure they don't have to repeat that feeling from a loss.

"It's still lingering," defensive lineman Chris Jones said.

Devin White of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Patrick Mahomes during the Chiefs' last Super Bowl appearance. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Chiefs remember blowout loss to Buccaneers

Jones was also part of the Chiefs' Super Bowl championship team from three years ago and the Super Bowl loss in 2021. So which feeling is stronger, the euphoria of winning a Super Bowl or the despair of losing?

"The despair of losing," Jones said. "You learn a lot when you lose."

The loss to the Buccaneers was one of the worst losses the Chiefs have had in Mahomes' five seasons as their starting quarterback. The 22-point defeat was the second worst in any Mahomes start (Kansas City lost 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans in 2021). The Chiefs came into that Super Bowl with an injured offensive line and the Buccaneers took advantage, pressuring Mahomes the whole game. Meanwhile the defense gave up too much to Tom Brady.

The Chiefs who were on the field in Tampa Bay that night still think about what went wrong.

"So many times," defensive end Frank Clark said. "You watch the film 100 times."

No team comes to a Super Bowl wanting to lose, but those who have been through a loss definitely don't want to repeat it.

Chiefs want a better outcome

Two years is a lot of time to think about doing things differently during Super Bowl week, even the smallest of details.

"The biggest thing you learn is what not to do," Clark said. "It's like, dang, I warmed up wrong. I wore the wrong headset. My socks were a little too low. It's all those types of things, when you look at it, if I would have done the little things. A little more studying. In practice on Wednesday, I could have done better, I could have pushed a little more. It gets down to the littlest of things. Literally, in the Super Bowl, if you make one or two mistakes, that can be the mistakes that cost you the game."

This matchup might feel like a bit of deja vu. In that Buccaneers game, pressure on Mahomes ruined the Chiefs. Kansas City's offensive line has been rebuilt, but the Chiefs will be up against an Eagles defense that led the NFL with 70 sacks. That's not far off the record of 72 sacks set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.

"It's one of the best defensive lines in history," Mahomes said. "We know it's going to be a challenge."

The Eagles will be a tough opponent, just like the Buccaneers were two seasons ago. Maybe the things the Chiefs learned from that loss will be a benefit this time around.

"The lessons you learn after that loss are going to stick with you for life," Clark said.