Heading into Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs had everything in front of them. All the Chiefs had to do was win their last two games to secure the AFC’s single postseason bye.
But things didn’t go as planned. As time expired, the Cincinnati Bengals pulled off a 34-31 upset with a game-winning field goal.
The Chiefs led 28-17 at halftime — but in the second half, their offense only scored only three points. Despite this, the defense still had opportunities to change the outcome. But at the end of the game, the Bengals were able to efficiently march down the field without giving Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes another crack at it.
“I mean, obviously, you never want to be in those kind of situations — especially with the offense that we have,” Chiefs Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu stressed to reporters after the game. “Obviously we would like to get off the field and give those guys at least 45 seconds to a minute to do what they need to do. Outside of that, I thought we fought pretty hard, you know, when those guys did go down there.”
Having said that, Mathieu understands the Kansas City secondary is better than what it showed in Cincinnati.
“I didn’t think today was our best day,” said Mathieu. “I don’t think we tackled well. I don’t think we really tried to stop deep balls on the outside — and I think playing cornerback in this league is a tough job. But we can get it done; we can do it. I just felt like today wasn’t our day.”
The Bengals’ star receiver Ja’Marr Chase is one of the major reasons why the Chiefs’ defense wasn’t able to get off the field. Whenever they needed a play, bengals quarterback Joe Burrow knew to call his number — and nobody on the Kansas City defense had an answer.
“I thought he had a great game,“ Mathieu said of Chase. “I thought a lot of things kind of went his way; a lot of balls he caught today, we could’ve been better — as far as angles to the completion point. [And] I didn’t think we tackled as well as we’ve been tackling the last couple of months.”
Chase finished the game with 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
“Anytime you play against a player like that, they’re going to expose you if you’re having an off day,“ noted Mathieu. “Hats off to the kid. He had a great game — and I hope he can keep it going.”
But on the last drive, the Chiefs had the Bengals dead-to-rights on a third-and-27. It didn’t matter, though — because Burrow found Chase in one-on-one coverage down the field for the first down.
“I think in our mind, we were playing for those guys to hopefully play for a field goal — and kind of play into our hands,” recalled Mathieu. “But they had another game plan in mind. It worked — and they got us. We’ll learn from it — and I do believe we’ll grow from that particular scenario.”
Kansas City will finish the regular season on the road against the Denver Broncos next Sunday. And to get the first seed, they’ll have to win — and see the Houston Texans defeat the Tennessee Titans.