From the FanPosts -Joel
I had never done it before, so it was very strange watching a Chiefs game on the road. There were quite a few Chiefs fans in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday - a shout out here to AP reader sunny D, whom I finally spotted in the next section over - but there were none within "high five" distance of me and my wife Terri in section 616.
We were lost in a sea of blue.
So as the Chiefs ran up a lead against a Colts team that seemed to be self-destructing, we couldn't get too excited. In these situations, decorum demands respect for the host fans - whom I must say were extremely friendly and pleasant. As the first half came to an end, I reminded the fellow next to me that the Colts had the ball to start the second half, and "they're a long way from being out of this game."
I'm pretty sure that's the only prediction I have made this season that turned out to be true.
It was very late on a cold winter night in January 1994, but a crowd of Chiefs fans had gathered at the Kansas City airport to welcome the team home from an excruciating playoff loss. The fans cheered as Marty Schottenheimer told them that the loss to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game earlier that day had taught him something: that "the road to the Super Bowl must lead through Kansas City."
People believed Marty - and with good reason. Under Schottenheimer, the Chiefs had suddenly become respectable again. That day's game had been the seventh playoff game in which the Chiefs had appeared during the five seasons Schottenheimer had been at the helm. During that stretch, the Chiefs had won both of their postseason games in the now-feared Arrowhead Stadium, but only one of five on the road.
Thanks to Marty's statement that night - an idea that he and his partner in crime Carl Peterson continued to express regularly in the years that followed - a whole generation of Chiefs fans came to believe that home field advantage in the playoffs meant everything. If the Chiefs could just manage to snag that golden #1 seed, everything else would fall into place.
Over the next decade, three different trips into the postseason with that advantage would prove that belief to be false. Those three divisional losses at home - not the three other playoff losses the Chiefs suffered between that day in 1994 and the day Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City - are the ones that hurt the most. They have been the primary fuel for the abject bitterness so many Chiefs fan have felt during the last two decades. Three times we believed. Three times we were crushed.
But it's important to remember that the guys who sold us that bill of goods are long gone.
It's OK to be bitterly disappointed by the Chiefs eighth consecutive playoff loss. I know I am - especially since I made the effort to be there in person, and now write this from a cheap hotel room in Foristell, MO, where we have been stranded for an extra day by the winter storm that rolled through the Midwest on Wild Card Weekend. I thought there was a real chance the Chiefs could end this particular drought. I even thought there was a chance the Chiefs could make it a step further towards the ultimate goal - maybe even two steps.
But let's be realistic. The 2013 Chiefs just weren't ready to win the Super Bowl.
I'm not saying they couldn't have done it. They could have. 80% of the 86 teams that have appeared in the Super Bowl since 1970 were ranked in the top 10% of all teams in scoring OR points allowed - or, lacking that, were ranked in the top third in scoring AND points allowed. Four of the six AFC playoff teams this season - including the Chiefs - met those criteria.
But there is only one trait shared by every Super Bowl winner. It isn't an "elite" quarterback, a top offense to compete in today's "pass-happy" NFL, or even a dominating defense for the cold of December and January. It is simply this: the ability to win three - sometimes four - consecutive games against the best teams in the league.
The plain fact is that the 2013 Chiefs didn't have that ability. In the regular season, they were 8-0 against losing teams, but just 3-5 against teams that finished the season at .500 or better. Only five teams have even appeared in the Super Bowl - much less won it - after playing so poorly against the successful teams on their regular season schedule. (You might be interested to know that the 2001 Patriots were the last team to do so)
So while it is perfectly understandable for fans like you and me to be bitterly disappointed by this first round loss, we shouldn't put it in the same category as those we suffered in 1995, 1997 and 2003. We believed those teams could go all the way because a coach and GM we respected trained us to believe we should. If we believed the 2013 Chiefs could win a championship, it's simply because we had a fan's faith in the team.
Given our experiences as Chiefs fans, we should know better than to have that kind of blind faith. But if we do, we can be excused for it simply because we are fans, and that's just what fans do. There's no shame in it - and there shouldn't be. But having said that, we must also recognize that we come to this faith by our own free will. So if we are disappointed when that faith is not justified, any anger or bitterness we may feel is, after all, self-inflicted.
I don't know if we a need a new safety. I don't know if Bob Sutton needs to learn how to make halftime adjustments. I don't know how many wide receivers or defensive ends the Chiefs need to find. I don't even know if Alex Smith deserves a contract extension. Those are just some of the things we can talk about - and we will.
Here's what I do know: The Chiefs achieved nothing less than a historic turnaround in 2013. Only two other teams ever won 11 games after winning only two in the previous season, and the Chiefs were only a play or two away from doing something neither of those teams did: win a playoff game. Like so many others, I was embarrassed when the Chiefs blew a 28 point lead in the third quarter of Saturday's game - but I was a hell of a lot less embarrassed than I was when teams would routinely beat the Chiefs by scores like 34-3, 38-3 or 41-7! And if you believe that all the Chiefs need is more talent, I remind you that it was only a week ago that 20 of 22 Chiefs starters sat out a game against a team that won its first round playoff game, and given proper officiating, would have knocked that team from the playoffs altogether.
Whatever the Chiefs did wrong in 2013, they showed they have the ability to do a lot of things right, too.
Yes, I'm disappointed - maybe even a little angry. But I am man enough to recognize that I have no one but myself to blame for allowing my fan's faith to get the better of me. I'm not going to apologize for it, but neither am I going to beat up on people who had nothing to do with it. I was not entirely satisfied by the results of the 2013 season - and I won't be until the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
But am I satisfied enough to have a little faith in the future? You bet I am. That's what fans do.