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Patrick Mahomes: Bengals once again executed better than Chiefs

Kansas City’s quarterback does not put the blame on a key mistake by a great teammate.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For the third time in a calendar year, the Cincinnati Bengals found themselves on the right side of a three-point victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17 last season before winning the AFC Championship game 27-24.

Speaking after another 27-24 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes credited Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s performance — while also ruing a slow start and missed fourth-quarter opportunities by his own team.

“First off,” Mahomes stated, “they have a great quarterback — a guy that’s won a lot of football games. Even though it was in college, he’s won a lot of football games now in the NFL. He’s someone who competes to the very end, too. They’ve got playmakers all over there. They’re well coached, have a good defense, and — at the end of the day — they’ve executed at a higher level in critical situations.

“We started off slow. We got back in the game, in the flow of things. Then we had a turnover late — and then the missed kick. If you’re playing good teams and you make that turnover on downs basically in the fourth quarter, those are the things that kind of bite you in the end.”

The late turnover was a fumble by the league’s best tight end. Travis Kelce had the ball knocked from his hand at the end of a 19-yard gain. At the time, Kansas City led by four —and appeared set to take a two-possession lead while draining crucial minutes from the fourth quarter.

Despite the game-changing turnover, Mahomes has no wish to see his best weapon be less aggressive.

“I just tell him to continue to be himself,” he said of his advice following the fumble. “We’ve seen Travis do that many times and get all those extra yards — those are hard-fought yards in this league. Obviously, they made a good play; they stripped the ball out right at the very end there. But I’m taking Travis fighting for extra yards every single time because that’s the type of competitor he is.”

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Mahomes targeted Kelce on the first play of Kansas City’s final drive, which ended with a missed 55-yard field goal.

“I tried to get the ball to him as quickly as possible after that,” he recalled. “We trust in him. He’s a competitor. He’s the reason that we play in big games like this. He’s going to go down fighting — so we’re going to keep giving him chances to make plays.”

Playing Burrow’s Bengals has been a frustrating experience for Mahomes and the Chiefs. The quarterback noted that the Bengals have done almost everything at a high level in their recent match-ups.

“They just have a well-put-together team,” Mahomes observed. “The offense, even though it kind of has the playmakers, they’ll take their time and kind of utilize the clock. Their defense changes up a lot of different coverages. They do a good job; they try to take Travis away as best as possible. That’s why you saw other guys making catches.

“I feel like we executed at a high level except for the one three-and-out drive. But it wasn’t high enough because we didn’t win. We’ve just got to go back, look at the film, and just try to get better from this game.”

Mahomes believes his team fared better than when they last met but admits finishing games remains a problem. The Chiefs led in all three of the losses to the Bengals.

“We definitely executed at a higher level than we did in the playoff game,” he claimed. “We wish we could have had a little bit more time. At the same time, they had a good game plan. I thought we executed at a high level at some points of the game, but if you’re going to beat a good football team, you’ve got to execute throughout the entire game.”

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