KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Despite a heartbreaking AFC Championship Game loss, many Kansas City Chiefs fans struck an upbeat note Sunday evening around town.
The Chiefs lost 37-31 against the New England Patriots in the first conference title game in Arrowhead Stadium history and the franchise’s first AFC title game since the 1993 season.
It was the first AFC Championship Game to go to overtime since the 1986 season, a Denver Broncos win at the Cleveland Browns.
But many fans see a bright future considering how well the Chiefs played in quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ first season as a starter, including a third straight AFC West championship and the No. 1 playoffs seed.
“They shouldn't feel too defeated,” said Raymond Lowe, who watched the game at Johnny’s Tavern in Overland Park, Kansas. “I mean, making it to the AFC (Championship Game) is hard enough to achieve, so they've got all the pieces in place. They obviously have a franchise quarterback. They just clearly need to work on some defense.”
Others weren’t surprised the Chiefs added another painful chapter to the team’s postseason history.
“It's been a great run but, man, 38 years being a Chiefs fan and watching it all go away in overtime — it's hard,” Chiefs fan D.J. McDaniel said. “... A lot of upside to the team, but it's hard. Man, it's hard to even think about next year when you're one game away so — can't do anything. Part of being a Chiefs fan I guess, right? I'm teaching my eleven year old the same thing. Hard loss.”
McDaniel’s 11-year-old son, Tanner, wasn’t happy with the officiating, but he’s still hopeful. Asked what he wants to see next year, he said, "A Super Bowl win."
At least one fan was confident enough to guarantee the Chiefs would be playing for a title again a year from now.
“I guarantee you if you save this video this team will be in the playoffs next year,” Kirsti Peterson said outside Arrowhead Stadium after Sunday’s game. “They'll be in the championship game and they'll be heading to the Super Bowl, so go Chiefs.”
Of course, Super Bowl LIII must be played first in two weeks in Atlanta between the Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers, who outlasted the New Orleans Saints in overtime Sunday during the NFC Championship Game.
“Go Rams now, I guess,” Julia Amaya after watching the Patriots’ win from Johnny’s.