The Kansas City Chiefs scored 80 fewer points during the 2023 regular season than any other in the Patrick Mahomes era, including three seasons that only featured 16 games. Yet, they reached the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years anyway, thanks in no small part to their defense.
Kansas City held MVP favorite Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to 10 points in Sunday’s AFC championship game. One of the game’s defining moments came when Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed knocked the ball out of wide receiver Zay Flowers’ hands at the goal line with Kansas City leading 17-7. The Chiefs went on to win 17-10.
What a play by Sneed to prevent the TD 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) January 28, 2024
Sneed also recorded five solo tackles, his highest total this postseason.
“We had a lot of doubters from the beginning of the season,” he said after the game. “No one believed in us. … We had a lot of adversity and kept going. And look where we’re at now.”
The fourth-year pro is having the best year of his career and did not allow a single touchdown during the regular season. He was limited to nine games as a rookie in 2020 because of injury, but has started 48 of the team’s 51 games over the past three seasons.
He says his faith has sustained him throughout his journey, and he identified it as one of the things that helped him stay positive his rookie year. His NFL career began with two strong performances, but he fractured his collarbone in Week 3 and ended up on injured reserve.
“First of all, I started off by praying with God,” Sneed said at the end of 2020. “It was hard on my mental, you know, how I started off. Plus, me trying to come back and maintain that same image that I put out. But with God, anything is possible. So I kept my faith in God.”
God I thank you 🙏🏽
— Sneed (@jay__sneed) January 27, 2024
A native of Minden, Louisiana, Sneed was born into a family with a long history of legal trouble. His parents were both incarcerated for the first six years of his life, and the trauma of his childhood still weighs heavily on him.
He has strong relationships with his parents now, with faith being part of the bond they share. When the city of Minden celebrated Sneed by declaring March 4, 2023, “L’Jarius Sneed Day,” his mother, Jane Sneed, started her remarks by giving glory to God.
“First, give honor to God, who is the head of our lives,” she said. “Where we are is only because of who God is. I want to thank the supporters of Minden. I thank the community who came out to support my son. Y’all have touched our hearts tremendously. We thank God for the gift. There’s no limit to what you can do. Stay focused. Push your children. Pray for your children. There’s nothing too hard for God.”
81 targets, 0 TDs (1st in NFL)
17 forced incompletions (1st in AFC)
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 5, 2024
Sneed attended Louisiana Tech and was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft by Kansas City. Considering he’s now preparing to face the San Francisco 49ers in his third Super Bowl as one of the key parts of a unit that ranked second in total defense and scoring defense, even Sneed’s own mother has a hard time believing where her son has ended up.
“I sit back and say, ‘Is this really real?’” she told the Shreveport Times in 2021. “I said wow! God, look at Your favor on us. You have exceeded abundantly what we could expect.”
Super Bowl LVIII kicks off from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 11.
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