Kansas City Chiefs ruin holidays, postseason outlook with another loss

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have suffered plenty of losses this season, and just as all wins are not created equal, the same applies to losses.

The Christmas Day debacle at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday extends far beyond anything in the box score or a PFF grade. The Chiefs dug themselves a huge hole early against the Las Vegas Raiders. They had two ways to respond: buckle down and come together, or fall apart at the seams and hand a historic rival a win.

Tell me which way you think they responded.

With two games left in the regular season, Kansas City still had an outside chance at the AFC's top seed. The coveted home-field advantage and initial bye week have given Kansas City an edge in winning two Super Bowls in four years. The AFC used to run through Arrowhead, but that seems unlikely this season. Besides, why would anyone be scared to come to Kansas City and face this team? On Sunday, the Chiefs more resembled the Three Stooges than a team led by three Hall of Famers on offense.

Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, and head coach Andy Reid used to fuel a "never say die" approach in Kansas City. How many times have Chiefs fans seen their team trailing with the clock ticking, only to come up when it matters most? Double-digit deficits in Super Bowl LIV or Super Bowl LVII did not prevent Kansas City from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Since taking over as starter, Mahomes has 15 wins after trailing by 10 or more points at any time in the game.

Yet, when the 2023 Chiefs start trailing by a touchdown, it feels like an uncrossable chasm, akin to traversing the Grand Canyon. Kansas City is 1-4 this season after trailing by double digits, and they have no fourth-quarter comebacks this season—one of two teams in the NFL this year without such an accomplishment. Seeing that even the NFL's worst teams can do that while Kansas City makes it seem impossible is a depressing fall from what they were even a year ago.

Chiefs fans had an obvious person to blame after each loss this season. The fan base has coped with losses this season by placing the blame on either an individual player, a coach, or the referees. For the first time in a while, there was no obvious scapegoat—the entire organization felt responsible for this loss.

This loss is not on a Marquez Valdes-Scantling drop. This loss is not on a marginal penalty with the game on the line. Sunday's loss was an utter failure by Kansas City on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was beyond reproach against the Raiders. Rookie Aidan O'Connell did not complete a pass after the first quarter. The Chiefs forced the Raiders to go on seven straight drives for 25 yards or less. It was inept play-calling and poor execution that gave Las Vegas two defensive touchdowns within seven seconds.

I am tired of hearing players and coaches say from the podium that they will clean up the mistakes, blaming mental errors, and kicking the can down the road. "We'll learn from this and move on," Reid said following the loss. Learn from it. It hasn't happened yet; why should fans believe you now after the most embarrassing loss this season?

It is frustrating. This team is what they were on Sunday. Mahomes has to make magic happen just to move the ball. Receivers are not where they need to be. Play calling seemingly comes from a Madden 24 Twitch streamer rather than Reid. All of it, together, has these chiefs looking like the worst of the Mahomes era.

Any hope of this team reaching the Super Bowl, or even the divisional round, feels like blind hope. We once had that in Kansas City because the team gave us results. These Chiefs now only provide heartbreak and frustration as the postseason rapidly approaches.

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