The Kansas City Chiefs went into Saturday’s home playoff tilt against the upstart Tennessee Titans feeling pretty good about their chances to win.
They have, in my humble opinion, the most improved quarterback other than Jared Goff in Alex Smith, the league’s leading rusher in rookie Kareem Hunt, and they’re fresh off of a 4-game winning streak. They would go on to win the AFC West and claim the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff tree.
The Tennessee Titans snuck into the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, compiling a 9-7 record. They managed to get in by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 15-10 slugfest @ Nissan Stadium and claiming the No. 6 seed.
As expected by most, Kansas City took a 14 point first quarter lead with touchdowns scored by Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Kansas City then went full force towards the Titans on defense, smothering Derrick Henry and making Marcus Mariota run for his life.
By halftime, the Chiefs had turned in a dominant performance. Kansas City only allowed a 49-yard field goal by ex-Kansas City Chief Ryan Succop and went in with a rather comfortable 21-3 lead.
It was starting to look as if Kansas City’s home playoff futility would soon be a thing of the past. Their offense was clicking. Alex Smith threw two 1st half TD passes. The defense had only allowed 119 total yards and forced 3 punts and an interception on a bad decision by Marcus Mariota.
However, the Kansas City Chiefs were dealt a serious blow when they lost starting Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce with a concussion right before the half. He took a hit to the helmet in a collision with Titans strong safety Johnathan Cyprien. He would not return.
Fast forward to the second half, the Titans came out a completely different team and Kansas City’s offense was deemed anaemic without the presence of Kelce.
Tennessee ripped off 19 unanswered points to eventually win the game and stun the Kansas City faithful in their beloved Arrowhead Stadium once again. A late TD reception by Eric Decker would be the game-deciding score off of a beautiful dart thrown down the seam by Marcus Mariota.
He finished the game completing 19/31 passes for 205 yards and 2 TD’s, one of which he threw to himself on a horrible deflection attempt by nickel corner, Darrelle Revis.
Derrick Henry said a week earlier that he felt like he ran ‘soft’ after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was anything but it Saturday evening, rushing for 156 yards on 23 carries and a 35 yard TD run to get the Titans back into the game. The Titans will head to Foxboro next weekend to play the New England Patriots.
So many questions linger after another quick playoff exit. Will the Kansas City Chiefs fire Andy Reid? Will they deal Alex Smith? Is Marcus Peters’ future in jeopardy? We won’t know anything until the offseason, but things aren’t looking too good at the moment. Definitely, a team to keep an eye on in the following months.
For Kansas City fans, this was all too familiar. Another year, another ball breaking loss at home in the postseason to a lesser team. It’s almost like reliving a nightmare year after year.
This felt like Lin Elliot missing 3 field goals in the ’95 AFC Divisional playoff. This felt like Darrien Gordon knocking down Elvis Grbac’s pass to Lake Dawson in the end zone during the ’97 AFC Divisional playoff.
I hate to admit it, but I am not one to avoid the truth. After this latest playoff debacle, the truth couldn’t be more clear. The Kansas City Chiefs are officially a snakebitten franchise. No other way to put it.