Lessons Detroit Lions Can Learn From Kansas City Chiefs

What Lions can take from Super Bowl 58.

The Kansas City Chiefs have repeated as Super Bowl champions. 

After a thrilling second half, the Chiefs ultimately prevailed with a 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers. 

It was a frustrating evening for Detroit Lions fans, who watched as a Kansas City team they defeated in Week 1 knocked off a San Francisco team that Detroit led by three scores at halftime of the NFC Championship game. 

The Lions are among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl next season, as they are currently tied for fifth-best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. However, it won't be easy as the Chiefs' dynasty is in full bloom after their third title in five seasons. 

Here are five lessons the Lions can learn from the Chiefs' most recent championship victory. 

Secondary standouts

Sunday's game proved to be a defensive battle, as both teams were sluggish offensively from the start. A key part of that was the performance of Kansas City's cornerbacks. 

Trent McDuffie, an All-Pro selection, and L'Jarius Sneed were key to slowing down San Francisco's potent run game. 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy started strong, but the Chiefs secondary adapted to shut down San Francisco's passing game. 

McDuffie had three passes defensed, including a break-up on a pass in the end zone intended for Deebo Samuel. Sneed, meanwhile, had one. 

The Lions' cornerbacks struggled to defend potent offenses in 2023. Late in the year, they were gashed by the likes of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Puka Nacua. As they turn the page to 2024, adding another talented cornerback to their rotation would be pivotal. 

Lead with linebackers

The Chiefs' defensive success can't be completely credited to the cornerbacks, however. A big part of the defensive game plan was shutting down Niners' tight end George Kittle, with the efforts being led by the team's linebackers. 

For the second straight year, Nick Bolton played a huge role in the team's Super Bowl victory. He had a game-high 13 tackles, including one for loss, and helped hold Kittle to just two catches for four yards. 

Bolton wasn't alone in his efforts, as Leo Chenal also had a solid showing for the Chiefs' defense. He forced a fumble that ended San Francisco's opening drive and finished with six tackles. 

The Lions have the making of a solid linebacking corps, as the trio of Alex Anzalone, Jack Campbell and Derrick Barnes could have a similar impact on a big game in the future. 

Related: Should Jared Goff Give Lions Hometown Discount?

Mahomes magic

It's impossible to talk about the success of the Chiefs without mentioning the greatness of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He's yet to fall short of appearing in the AFC Championship in six seasons as the team's starter, and he boasts a 3-1 record in the Super Bowl. 

Despite losing his top target in Tyreek Hill prior to the 2022 season and dealing with plenty of new receiving talent outside of mainstay tight end Travis Kelce, Mahomes has managed to lead the team to back-to-back championships. 

There is only one Mahomes, but the Lions have one of the league's better passers in Jared Goff. Though the veteran passer doesn't have the success to his name that Mahomes does, he has proven to be a strong fit within Detroit's offensive system. 

There's an intangible quality within Mahomes that allows one to believe that the Chiefs will succeed in the darkest of points. Most recently, he showed composure in leading the Chiefs to a game-tying drive in the game's final minute of regulation. 

In overtime, he wasted no time piloting the game-winning drive after the 49ers took the lead with a field goal. 

One of the biggest contributors to Mahomes' success has been his reliable connection with Kelce. The two connected in pivotal moments, including a 22-yard pass late in regulation to set up the game-tying field goal. 

This is one area where the Lions have the potential to replicate the success, as Goff has established strong a rapport with both Sam LaPorta and Amon-Ra St. Brown early in their careers. 

Making a difference on special teams

The Chiefs had a trio of massive plays on special teams in Sunday's game, as three different units had moments that drastically altered the game. 

For starters, punter Tommy Townsend had multiple big punts that dictated field position in favor of the Chiefs. He pinned two inside the 20 and had a long of 62. His biggest moment, however, came when he boomed a kick that bounced off a 49er coverage player and was recovered by the coverage team. 

On the very next play following the fumble, the Chiefs scored to take the lead on a pass from Mahomes to Marques Valdes-Scantling. 

Earlier in the third quarter, kicker Harrison Butker hit a 57-yard field goal, which set the Super Bowl record. That reliability in their kicker allowed Kansas City to add points at a pivotal juncture, which would prove to be difference making. 

Butker finished a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts. While the Lions hang their hat on being aggressive in fourth down situations, having a kicker with a big leg that can convert long attempts does wonders in close games. 

The biggest moment, though, came in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs blocked a San Francisco extra point attempt. That kept their deficit at three points, which would ultimately allow them to tie the game in the fourth quarter rather than force them to score a touchdown on their final drive. 

Finding a way

For the third time, the Chiefs were able to overcome a 10-point deficit to win the Super Bowl.

It was tough sledding for their offense early on, as their first trip to the red zone resulted in a fumble. That drive was the only one of their first four to not end in a punt, and they didn't get on the board until the final moments of the first half.

Still, their defense kept them in the game as the fortunes turned. Kansas City scored 10 unanswered in the third quarter to take the lead, then kicked field goals on its final two drives to force OT.

They capitalized on their opponents' mistakes, and made the most of their second-half opportunities. This is an area where the Lions struggled in 2023, as their third quarter performances left plenty to be desired.

Executing in clutch situations is a massive component of teams that sustain success. As a result, ironing out the third quarter struggles will be a key part of the Lions' growth in 2024.  

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