Chiefs see AFC top seed slip away, no longer control destiny
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs’ momentum hit a wall in Cincinnati.
The surging Chiefs were 11-4 and had won eight straight. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had won 26 consecutive games as the starter in the months of November, December and January.
Instead Kansas City lost 34-31 to the Bengals, who staged comebacks from 14-point deficits three times in the game and set up rookie Evan McPherson for a game-winning field goal as time ran out.
With that, the Chiefs lost their grip on the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the first-round bye and home-field advantage that comes with it. They now have to beat Denver next week and hope woeful Houston can knock off AFC South champion Tennessee to regain the top seed.
“After you lose a game like you lost it today, it shouldn’t be difficult to get ready to go next week,” Mahomes said. “I think guys will be ready to go. ... We’ll try to fix some things and play better football this week.”
Mahomes looked as if he was in control, throwing two early touchdown passes to put Kansas City up 14-0. The Chiefs were up 28-17 at the half, but then the offense stalled.
“They came out and played a little different coverage and stuff like that,” Mahomes said. “But I think it’s just execution. We were executing at a high level in the first half. We had a couple of bad plays here and there really from everybody that kind of stalled drives out.”
Then there was Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase shredding the Chiefs defense. Chase had a rookie record 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Burrow threw for 446 yards and four scores. Three penalties on Kansas City cornerback L’Jarius Sneed extended second-half drives for Cincinnati.
“This a response-driven league, and I just don’t think we responded well enough today,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I know some people will talk about certain calls that were made late in the game, and, outside of that I still feel we could have responded a lot better defensively.”
Andy Reid has led the Chiefs to the postseason eight times in nine seasons and a Super Bowl championship after the 2019 season. They had reeled off eight consecutive wins after starting 1-3.
“You learn from it,” Reid said. “As coaches and players, that’s all you can do. The guys battled. I thought we played aggressive football. We came up short against a good team. We’ll come back, study it and get better from it.”
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