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Nick Bolton Chiefs

Nick Bolton Has Become One Of Chiefs’ Most Important Players

  • Jack McKessy
  • February 14, 2023
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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes may have won Super Bowl MVP for his performance on the offensive side of the ball, but second-year linebacker Nick Bolton deserves a ton of credit for his role leading the defense during the game and throughout this season.

Even dating back to his collegiate career at Missouri, Bolton always seemed destined to make a big impact on whichever team he played for as a MIKE linebacker. Not only did he have the leadership attributes that would make him a great captain of any defense, but his tackling and run-defending skills also stood out among his peers. With that being the case, it wasn’t a huge surprise when the former Tiger led the Chiefs with 112 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss his rookie season (despite just 12 starts) and became the first rookie with more than 100 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss since Shaquille Leonard in 2018.

In 2022, Bolton really came into his own, outperforming himself in nearly every category from the year before. He became the full-time starting MIKE linebacker for the Chiefs’ defense this year, wearing the green dot on his helmet and the “C” patch on his jersey for the first time in his second season. Those definitive symbols of leadership could add extra pressure to players, especially a 22-year-old like Bolton, but he didn’t flinch. By the end of the 2022 season, he had set a new single-season franchise record with 180 tackles. He also recorded his first two career interceptions, first two career sacks, and first career forced fumble during the regular season.

Then, when the lights got brightest in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl LVII, Bolton not only stepped up but played the game of his life. His play recognition was on point all night, allowing him to finish the big game as its tackles leader with nine on the night and four that qualified as defensive stops: tackles short of the sticks on third down.

Of course, Bolton’s tackles weren’t the only nor the biggest contributions he made in the game. That honor goes to his scoop-and-score touchdown—of which he nearly had two—that kept the Chiefs sticking around in the first half despite a brutal missed field goal and a three-and-out on their previous two offensive possessions.

Had a certain incomplete pass been ruled a fumble, Bolton would have had two fumble-six scores, which certainly would have given Mahomes a run for his money in the Super Bowl MVP “race.” Regardless of who won the award in the end, Bolton’s impact on the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win as one of its defensive captains and best defensive players is undeniable.

The second-year player had been one of the team’s biggest leaders all season, and his impact on the field only continued to shine in the biggest game of his career. Given all of that, Nick Bolton established himself as one of the most important players in the Chiefs’ defensive unit this season and will continue to be a significant leader for the team in the years to come.

Written By

Jack McKessy