The road to Super Bowl LVIII as told by off-field antics

ByKalan Hooks ESPN logo
Saturday, February 10, 2024

This year's NFL postseason concludes with the San Francisco 49ers against the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

For the 49ers, this means potentially avenging their 31-20 loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, which led to the Power and Light District -- located in Downtown Kansas City -- to play the city's unofficial theme song the entire night on repeat. It was also the beginning of an impressive five-year stretch for the Chiefs, where they made the Super Bowl four years.

Though the postseason has been a journey, it didn't all just take place on the field. The story of this year's Super Bowl can be told through beefs, trolls and more.

Here's how the postseason unfolded off the field:

The Dome?

When you're surrounded by palm trees year-round like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, frigid temperatures are a rarity. Luckily for the Bucs, they didn't have to face the freezing weather during their NFC divisional round match against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

When asked how he planned to get his team acclimated to Detroit's 13-degree weather, Todd Bowles had a straightforward answer, since the Lions have played in a dome for nearly 50 years.

"You do know we play indoors right, they got a dome," Bowles responded. "I don't ... no, nothing planned. We're indoors and only have to be outside [for] twenty seconds getting off the bus going under the thing."

Tampa Bay didn't last in the dome, where the Lions advanced to the NFC Championship game with a 31-23 win.

Bills Mafia are the real MVPs

Just hours before their wild-card matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the city of Buffalo transformed into a winter wonderland. Though many fans woke up on Sunday to see clear skies -- a good sign that a winter storm could miss the area -- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the game would be postponed to Monday, a day before the showdown.

"Now, you may see clear skies [Sunday] morning, don't be fooled," Hochul said at a news conference. "The bull's-eye of the storm is predicted to hit midday Sunday afternoon right during the scheduled Buffalo Bills game."

Sure enough, Highmark Field was covered in a blanket of snow.

Though there was a travel ban in place, the Bills put out a post stating they would need assistance shoveling the field for safe conditions for the wild card game, and Bills Mafia showed up and showed out.

Josh Allen's three touchdowns led the Bills past the Steelers in the wild card, 31-17, advancing to the divisional round quicker than Mike Tomlin's exit from his postgame press conference.

But that wasn't the end for the superhero Bills Mafia squad.

Another storm raided the area a day before the Divisional Championship against the Chiefs, leading the Bills to call on their fans once more to help shovel the stadium.


After last season's Super Bowl LVII loss to the Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles were out for revenge to claim what they thought was theirs this season -- the Super Bowl.Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers had other plans. They wanted to make noise in the playoffs, and what better way to do so than against the reigning NFC champions?

The Eagles admittedly have one of the catchiest fight songs in all of the NFL, and it was lingering in Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James' mind after his team's 112-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Alexander trolls Prescott

By the end of the second quarter of the NFC wild-card round between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, Dallas fans probably wanted to cry in their vehicles due to the 27-7 halftime deficit.

With one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL, any Cowboys fan would admit it hurts to see your team eliminated in the first round of a playoff series. But to see it play out the same way it did last season is another story.

Dak Prescott threw two interceptions in the 48-32 loss against the Packers --one of those was to Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, resulting in him adding Prescott to his list of favorite quarterbacks.

"There's a few quarterbacks who've thrown me multiple picks in my career [and] Dak is now one of them so he's along my top QBs," Alexander told reporters in the locker room.

We suppose that's a way to gain a fan from a different team.

Lions on the come up

It's been seven years since the Lions had a fair shot at the road to the Super Bowl. Before this season, Detroit hadn't played three games in a postseason -- ever -- and hadn't won a playoff game in 32 years. That streak ended when the Lions racked up two wins with a shot at the NFC title.

Lions coach Dan Campbell has seen it all.

Detroit was known for being the first team in history to have a 16-game schedule and finish the season with no wins. Campbell was a part of that 0-16 team, where he played tight end before suffering a hamstring injury that only allowed him to play one game during the 2008 season. He took what he's learned 16 years ago and used it to create something the city of Detroit may remember forever.

"You're always going to learn lessons over time, no matter where you've been, the good and the bad. And some of the best lessons you learn are when things don't go right. And so, I've been fortunate to see it all," Campbell said. "I've seen it all. Been at the lowest and I've been at the highest and you learn along the way. And that helps."

In 2021, Los Angeles orchestrated a trade that would send the then-Rams quarterback Jared Goff to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford just before the Rams won Super Bowl LVI.

For Goff, this was his chance to get his revenge.

"I think it'll never leave me, and I think that's a good thing," Goff said reminiscing the trade.

After defeating the Rams 24-23 (you were so close, LA), Lions general manager Brad Holmes was feeling it in the elevator. He didn't care who was in the tight space or how loud he was. All that mattered was that Detroit won and that he expressed how proud he was of the franchise. As he should.

Project Pat and Killa Trav aren't going for that

Unless you're Colorado Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders taking a pregame lap around the field and so happen to end up in the enemy territory during pregame, this isn't for you.

During the AFC Championship pregame warm-ups, Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had his kicking equipment set up in the Kansas City end zone while Patrick Mahomes went through his usual warm-up routine. Mahomes said he asked Tucker if he could move his helmet, which Tucker did, but not enough in Kelce's eyes.

"I asked him to move his stuff and he got up and moved it [I think] two inches, but didn't move it out of the way. I was gonna kind of let it slide but [Travis] moved it for me and then after that I wasn't going to let him put it back down," Mahomes said.

In the end, Kansas City got the last laugh with a 17-10 over Baltimore, sealing their trip to Super Bowl LVIII.

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