Travis Kelce is at his best on the Super Bowl stage once all the confetti canons have fired and the Lombardi Trophy is smudged by so many fingerprints and smooches.
That's when he finally gets to glare into the camera, narrow his eyes into a you'd-better-believe-it stare and warn all the naysayers to quit doubting the Kansas City Chiefs.
Maybe now everyone will start listening.
After the Chiefs rallied past the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 Sunday night to become the NFL's first repeat champion in nearly 20 years -- and the first team to win consecutive Super Bowls as underdogs -- Kelce was quick to show there's not an ounce of contentment in K.C.
“Well, you know the goal has always been to get three,” Kelce screamed after sharing a kiss with his girlfriend Taylor Swift. “How about that. We get a chance to do it three times in a row.”
Oddsmakers are already saying it's a better bet that Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will finally figure out how to scale that stage themselves a year from now in New Orleans than for Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and that dominant defense to snare another Lombardi for their crowded trophy case.
After all, none of the seven previous teams to successfully defend their Super Bowl trophy even made it back to the big game for a shot at a three-peat.
The Chiefs don't mind being underdogs already -- or again, for that matter.
To win the franchise's fourth title, they had to beat Buffalo, Baltimore and the Niners, all of whom were favored, after dispatching the Miami Dolphins and former teammate Tyreek Hill on wild-card weekend.
The Chiefs traded Hill two seasons ago, something that was supposed to send them into reloading mode, if not a full rebuild or even a tailspin. Instead, they overcame the odds and so many obstacles to beat the Eagles in last year's Super Bowl.
Afterward, Kelce gleefully glared into the camera and delivered his message.
"Not one of y’all said the Chiefs were going to take it home this year. Not a single one,” Kelce hollered as Mahomes, the game’s MVP just like he was on Sunday, looked on, smiling. “Feel that ... Feel it. And on top of that, next time the Chiefs say something, put some respect on our names."
Then, for much of the season it looked as if the crowing Kelce would be eating crow. Mahomes’ passes kept ricocheting off his receivers’ hands. His offensive line kept committing costly penalties. The Chiefs dropped five of eight games at one point, punctuated by their first loss to Denver since 2015.
Like most champions, the Chiefs had a hard time keeping the band together last offseason. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. signed a big contract with the rival Cincinnati Bengals and right tackle Andrew Wylie bolted to Washington. They were replaced by Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor, who turned out not to be downgrades, after all.
JuJu Smith-Schuster bolted to the Patriots and Mecole Hardman went to the Jets, although when Mahomes' targets caught a nasty case of the butterfingers, the Chiefs reacquired the much-maligned Hardman, who caught Mahomes' winning touchdown pass in overtime Sunday night.
The Chiefs entered the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 3 seed. They won at Buffalo and at Baltimore in the postseason — the first road playoff games of Mahomes’ career — and entered the Super Bowl as 2 1/2-point underdogs, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
After defying the odds, the Chiefs are now talking about a third consecutive trophy.
The three-peat has become the pinnacle of sports accomplishment. The last NHL team to do it was the New York Islanders in the early 1980s. Kobe and Shaq led the Los Angeles Lakes to three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002 shortly after the New York Yankees won three straight World Series titles from 1998-2000.
No NFL team has really come close to joining those dynasties.
Seven have had the chance, including the Pittsburgh Steelers twice.
The Packers actually won three straight titles from 1965-67, the last two of which became known as Super Bowls I and II. Phil Bengtson replaced Vince Lombardi in 1968 and went 6–7–1 , starting a three–decade run of mediocrity before Reggie White, LeRoy Butler and Brett Favre arrived in the 1990s to revive Titletown.
Don Shula's 1972 Miami team went 17-0, beating Washington 14-7 to complete the only undefeated season in the Super Bowl era. After beating Minnesota in the Super Bowl a year later, the Dolphins' dynasty came to an end with a 28-26 loss to Oakland in the first round of the '74 playoffs.
Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain defense won four Super Bowls in six years, but they never had a real shot at a three-peat. Oakland drummed them 24-7 in the AFC championship following the 1976 season and they didn't even reach the playoffs in '80 after their second of back-to-back titles.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
After winning his third and fourth Super Bowls by dispatching the Bengals and Broncos, Joe Montana looked primed for a three-peat. But the Niners lost to the New York Giants 15-13 on Matt Bahr's 42-yard field goal as time expired in the NFC championship at Candlestick Park following the 1990 season.
Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones split up after beating the Bills in back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and ‘93 and Barry Switzer would help Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith win one more title but not before a 38-28 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship following the ’94 season.
John Elway retired after winning back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s. Then, fellow future Hall of Famer Terrell Davis blew out a knee early in the 1999 season and the Broncos finished 6-10 under QB Brian Griese and RB Olandis Gary after going 46-10 the previous three seasons.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Tom Brady won his first 10 playoff games, including three Super Bowls, two of them back-to-back. That run of perfection ended in Denver in the divisional round of the 2005 playoffs thanks to Champ Bailey's 100-yard interception return that sparked Denver's 27-13 win. Brady wouldn't win another Super Bowl for a decade.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
So, does three Super Bowl trophies in five years already constitute a dynasty? How about becoming the first team since Brady and Bill Belichick to win consecutive Super Bowls nearly two decades ago? “It's the start of one,” said Mahomes, who is 15-3 in the playoffs and 10-3 as an underdog in his short career.
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