Chiefs eager for Bengals rematch after last season's losses

AFC Championship Game defeat lingers for Kansas City
Bengals Chiefs Football
Posted at 10:40 PM, Nov 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-28 07:59:06-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During the 2021 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs built an 11-point halftime lead at Cincinnati only to blow it and lose on the final play of regulation last January against the Bengals.

The sting got worse in a rematch later that month when the Chiefs again coughed up another 11-point halftime lead in the AFC Championship Game.

Despite forcing overtime with a last-second Harrison Butker field goal, Kansas City’s dreams of a third consecutive Super Bowl evaporated in overtime.

The losses, especially the playoff defeat, haunted Patrick Mahomes — who threw two interceptions, including one in overtime in the AFC title game — and the Chiefs throughout the offseason.

“It’s not a good place,” Mahomes said when asked about his mental state reflecting on the game. “They beat us; I played terrible in the second half and we lost a game at home that could have sent us to a Super Bowl.”

The subtext: Kansas City hasn’t forgotten.

“We’ll be ready to go this next week for sure,” Mahomes said.

The Chiefs ride a five-game win streak into Cincinnati for the third meeting with the Bengals in the last 12 months.

Mahomes has won 26 consecutive games in November or December during his NFL career, but that streak will be tested against the surging Bengals, who have won five of six since a 2-3 start to the season.

But it’s not just Mahomes who struggled to put the Cincinnati loss behind him during the offseason.

“I also had two dropped interceptions, I believe, that game,” linebacker Nick Bolton said. “That’s one of those things that kind of stung in the offseason when I looked back at the game and watched it.”

Kansas City’s defense will be eager for redemption as well.

“Cincinnati got us twice last year,” Bolton said. “We didn’t tackle very well and we didn’t tackle the quarterback. We had a lot of missed opportunities last year to end the game with sacks and getting behind the sticks. We didn’t do that.”

It’s an open question how much the losses to the Bengals influenced the Chiefs’ decision to trade Tyreek Hill and retool the offense, but there’s no doubt the roster has been churned — so, it seems, has Mahomes and company’s mindset.

“You learned that you’ve got to continue to push,” Mahomes said. “You can’t be satisfied with where you’re at. We scored a lot of points that first half. We went into [the halftime locker room] thinking we were going to kind of coast to the Super Bowl, but they’re a team that’s going to fight to the very end.”

The Chiefs kick off at the Bengals at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.