Head coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to Las Vegas, having clinched a place in their fourth Super Bowl in six seasons. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game to book their spot at Allegiant Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers, but it may not have happened if not for Antonio Pierce and the Las Vegas Raiders.
In Week 16, the Raiders traveled to Arrowhead Stadium to face off against the Chiefs in a divisional battle. The Raiders, led by Pierce as an interim coach, were all but eliminated from the postseason by this point and had little to play for other than being a spoiler to an AFC West rival. Las Vegas outdueled the Chiefs to the tune of a 20-14 win that included back-to-back forced turnovers for touchdowns.
Reid described that loss as a turnaround moment for the Chiefs, who had been coasting up to that point and had lost four of their last six. Without that loss, Reid and the Chiefs may not have been able to figure things out and get to where they are now, according to Nick Sloan of KMBC:
“I think that was a good wake-up call for us,” Reid said. They came out with great emotion. (Head Coach) Antonio (Pierce) had them ready to go.”
“That emotion was the thing that jumped out at you – that they played with – I think it gave our guys a nice little – for (lack of) a better term, a wakeup call that, ‘Listen, we need to step things up here. Things aren’t just going to fall in our lap.’ We’re taking everyone’s best shot; here’s a team that went through some adversity, and they stepped up and were able to present themselves as they did. We were able to learn from it and move on,” Reid said.
The Chiefs have not lost a game since then and won the first two road playoff games of the Patrick Mahomes era, and Reid believes it was all thanks to the Raiders. Specifically, thanks to Pierce and his ability to motivate his locker room in an otherwise meaningless game.
There is a reason Pierce was hired as the head coach and had the interim tag removed. He has a firm group of believers on the Raiders roster who are willing to play for him regardless of circumstance.
Maxx Crosby promises Raiders will be in playoffs
While everyone was watching the 49ers and Chiefs setting up an epic matchup in the upcoming Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, Las Vegas Raiders superstar defensive end Maxx Crosby was also watching the game and amped about the prospect of playing in these high-stakes playoff games, as he took to Twitter to promise a bright future for his team.