A 22-point defeat has the Chiefs still smarting five months after they were soundly beaten by the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. Once seen as a nearly unstoppable juggernaut which happened to be the defending champion, Kansas City took it on the chin in February and has some work ahead of it to return to the NFL mountaintop.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce hasn't forgotten what it felt like to watch his team dismantled by Tampa Bay on the game's greatest stage.
"That was pretty embarrassing man, taking that last loss down there in Tampa, man," Kelce said during an interview with NFL Network's Patrick Claybon and Brandon Flowers on Thursday's NFL Total Access. "If you're not motivated after taking a shellacking like that, I don't know what's wrong with you. I want to go win one more than I ever wanted to get one in the first place and that's everybody in that building, man.
"That's why I love Kansas City, we've got great guys, top to bottom. Front office, Clark Hunt, the head of it all, the owner of the Chiefs, he's done a great job of getting the right people in the right place, even more so this year with the new additions that we have. It's just exciting times and everybody's motivated to just get better and go out here and try to win a Super Bowl, man."
Embarrassing is a good adjective to use to describe what the rest of the world saw as a lopsided affair. Instead of witnessing an explosive display of modern football with a Lombardi Trophy up for grabs, Super Bowl LV was instead a gradual teardown of the once-vaunted Chiefs offense, which simply wasn't capable of preventing the Buccaneers' pass rush from harassing Patrick Mahomes. The game was essentially decided early in the fourth quarter, when it became painfully apparent Kansas City simply didn't have enough to keep pace with Tampa Bay.
The Chiefs have responded in kind, revamping their offensive line in the offseason by acquiring left tackle Orlando Brown via trade and signing premier guard Joe Thuney and center Austin Blythe in free agency. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif returns following his season away from football due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mike Remmers will man the right tackle spot, serving as Kansas City's frontside protector while also existing as the Chiefs' biggest question up front.
Because of injuries, the Chiefs' greatest weakness was the offensive line by the end of the 2020 season. They're hoping their offseason moves have addressed the problem, and they also bolstered their defense by signing Jarran Reed.
There's a different tone around these Chiefs, though. Instead of the collective football media spending the offseason wondering aloud whether the Chiefs could be toppled, they don't seem to be as much of a guarantee in 2021. Then again, any hopeful contender knows their path will likely run through Kansas City at some point.
Kelce will be there to stop their progress and avenge his team's embarrassment. We'll learn this fall and winter whether he and the Chiefs can make good on his goal.