Following the Kansas City Chiefs' 44-21 victory against the Arizona Cardinals in Week One, several of the Chiefs defensive backs sauntered back to the buses at State Farm Stadium.
Before those buses whisked them off to the airport, their position coach, Dave Merritt, told them to remember the stadium.
"We're going to be back here," Merritt said. "We mentioned it back then. Praise God — then it came true."
Indeed the Chiefs' season has come full circle in blessed fashion.
They will end it where they started it — at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., when they face the Philadelphia Eagles there on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII.
In their impressive 14-3 campaign, the Chiefs' win against the Cardinals on Sept. 11 represented their largest margin of victory. Patrick Mahomes, a spokesman for the insurance company with the naming rights to the stadium , threw for a season-high five touchdowns, and the Chiefs were able to rest many starters in the fourth quarter.
That should leave them with confidence.
Players and coaches, however, noted the 14-3 Eagles — who also defeated the Cardinals, 20-17, on this field in Week Five — should present a much more stern challenge than a Cardinals team that went 4-13 in a season that cost head coach Kliff Kingsbury his job.
"We played a really good game against the Cardinals Week One," center Creed Humphrey said. "But it's a completely different game against a completely different opponent."
State Farm Stadium represents some bad memories as well.
After the Week One game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid blamed loose turf for two major injuries. Kicker Harrison Butker was carted off after hurting his ankle on a kickoff, and cornerback Trent McDuffie strained a hamstring.
State Farm Stadium does have a unique surface. The first fully retractable field, the natural grass field is contained in a 40-inch deep tray measuring 234 feet wide and 403 feet long. At the push of a button, it rolls in on 546 steel wheels, which rest on 13 railroad-like tracks, in about 70 minutes.
That's one of the signatures of State Farm Stadium, which was called Cardinals Stadium when it opened in 2006. Its $455 million cost included $395.4 million for the stadium, $41.7 million for site improvements and $17.8 million for the land. It was paid for by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority ($302.3 million), the Arizona Cardinals ($143.2 million) and the city of Glendale, Ariz ($9.5 million).
Assistant head coach Dave Toub expects the State Farm Stadium field to be in much better shape than it was in Week One, when he said high school teams had played on it previously.
The Super Bowl LVII turf, which is comprised of hybrid Bermuda grass with perennial rye grass, was placed at the stadium after the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 and is being maintained by a grounds crew that includes Kansas City's George Toma, who has worked all 57 Super Bowls.
Merritt knows State Farm Stadium and its turf well. It was his home field in 2018 when he was the Cardinals' defensive backs coach just prior to joining the Chiefs' staff.
"There's been known to be slippage," Merritt said.
Butker has prepared for that. In the offseason he approached his kicks from 11 yards out, which is farther than most NFL kickers, who do so from seven to nine yards.
"I was just bombing balls further than I've ever kicked," Butker said.
While that distance allowed him to generate more power, the downside is that there is greater potential for injury because of the extra strides. So he's now starting from just five yards back.
"If I was on a field that I felt very secure, I would do the 11-yarder," Butker said. "Right now, I just want to get through the season."
McDuffie was the other casualty from the Week One contest. The rookie first-round draft choice didn't return until Week Nine.
But he remains undaunted.
"Football is a game of injuries, dog," he said. "So you can't play scared out there … Man, we'll play on blacktop. It don't matter."
Of great importance is Super Bowl LVII, and the setting for that big game is where the Chiefs began their 2022-23 campaign.
"It's funny," Merritt said. "Now we're gonna be back here getting ready to play the biggest game of our career."
- Kansas City Chiefs 40-9 Oakland Raiders: Chiefs dominate Raiders in AFC West bout
- Baltimore Ravens 28-33 Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes throws three TDs in KC win
- Matt Moore plucked from Hart High coaching staff to be Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback
- An Interior Designer’s Guide to Kansas City
- Can Raiders hold Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in check?
- Chiefs rout Raiders 40-9 to seize AFC West control
- Chiefs and Patriots plenty familiar ahead of Sunday showdown
- Patriots-Chiefs rematch headlines Week 14
- Chiefs Rout Raiders 40-9 To Seize AFC West Control
- Raiders Routed By AFC West-Leading Chiefs, 40-9
- Patriots-Chiefs Week 14 Predictions
- Patriots-Chiefs Week 14 News, Notes & Fun Facts
- Dallas Cowboys ugly season goes from bad to worse against Chicago Bears
- Texans' Bill O'Brien on Tytus Howard's rookie season: 'There's a lot to build on'
- Raiders’ Carr goes bust again vs Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium
- Patriots have much to clean up with Chiefs up next
- Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs carries on through injury to craft 1,000-yard season
- Hurley’s Picks: Picking Perfect Playoff Matchups As NFL Season Enters Final Quarter
- With Chiefs Visiting Foxboro, Patriots’ Defense Must Prove It’s Worthy Of All-Time Status
- Jim Nantz: ‘Don’t See Any Reason Why Patriots-Chiefs Won’t Be Another Nail-Biter’
The Kansas City Chiefs Are Beginning And Ending Season At State Farm Stadium have 953 words, post on www.forbes.com at February 8, 2023. This is cached page on Business News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.