Why this Chiefs loss hurts even more than Super Bowl LV
The Kansas City Chiefs lost the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay last season, and it sucked. On Sunday, the Chiefs lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, and somehow that hurt even more.
Kansas City saw its playoff journey come to an end in painful, painful circumstances on Sunday, and even though there was technically less on the line than in the Super Bowl, this loss feels a whole lot worse.
The Chiefs were up 21-3 in the first half against the Bengals and looked all but unstoppable. They had a 21-10 lead at halftime, and they seemed on track to reach their third-straight Super Bowl.
Instead, the Chiefs fell to Cincinnati 27-24 in overtime, becoming the first team ever to lose a conference championship game at home after leading by more than 10 points.
As a Chiefs fan, both yesterday’s game and the Super Bowl were incredibly tough to watch. But for me, the manner of their loss to the Bengals makes this one a whole lot worse.
This AFC Championship loss for the Chiefs hurts more than previous playoff losses—including Super Bowl LV.
The Super Bowl was a train wreck. The Chiefs got steamrolled, but at least there were clear reasons that explained their downfall–their totally depleted offensive line and the insane number of penalties, to name a few.
The loss to Cincinnati hurts so much more because the Chiefs were in the perfect spot to win a crucial playoff game, and they blew it. They have no one to blame but themselves. A combination of miscues, missed opportunities, and bizarre decisions saw the Chiefs crumble in front of our very eyes.
Kansas City’s capitulation was stunning. After racking up 311 yards of offense in the first two quarters, the Chiefs managed just 83 yards and three points in the second half. The Chiefs were in total control. Up 21-3 in the second quarter, Kansas City’s win probability was as high as 94.9%, according to ESPN. And then, everything totally fell apart.
An offense that looked unstoppable on their first three drives was then totally stymied, unable to come up with any answers to Cincinnati’s defensive adjustments. It hurt to watch the Chiefs look so incredible and then so mind-blowingly bad in the same game.
Heading into the Sunday, the Chiefs seemed to have everything going their way: tons of momentum after an insane win over Buffalo the week before and a healthy roster with almost all their key players fit and available. They had home-field advantage and more postseason experience than their opponents, and things got even better during the game with Kansas City holding an 18-point lead. But despite everything, in the end, it didn’t.
Kansas City squandered opportunity after opportunity to put the game to bed, as the game slowly slipped through their fingers. It was excruciating to watch. In the Super Bowl, the Chiefs get hammered with a knock-out blow. This was death by a thousand cuts, each one more painful than the last.
At least with the Super Bowl loss, there was still a sense of accomplishment—winning the AFC title game is still an achievement to be proud of. This season, after a loss like that, the silver linings are a lot harder to see.
The future is not bleak for the Chiefs. Their Super Bowl window is still wide open, and there is no reason to think they can’t be even more successful next season. But at least for now, Chiefs Kingdom will have to suffer through the agony of a tortuous, catastrophic playoff loss in a game they absolutely should have won.
Even after the pain of watching the Chiefs get annihilated in the Super Bowl, this defeat feels like it hurts a whole lot more.