The Kansas City Chiefs have lost just five games across two seasons in the calendar year 2022.
Cincinnati now owns three of those five games, with the Bengals taking down the Chiefs 27-24 on Sunday, snapping Kansas City’s five-game winning streak.
That loss also knocks the Chiefs out of the top spot in the AFC playoff picture for now. At 9-3, Kansas City is now behind the Buffalo Bills in the race for the No. 1 seed since the Bills own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Chiefs fell behind early in Week 13, going down 7-0 in the first quarter and 14-3 in the second. But Kansas City withstood a pair of touchdown passes from Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow and closed the gap at halftime, getting the deficit back to four points thanks to a touchdown pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to running back Jerick McKinnon.
After the break, the Chiefs hit their stride and were in position to blow the game open. Mahomes and rookie running back Isiah Pacheco each ran for touchdowns in the third period while the defense, which struggled for much of the day, held the Bengals to just a field goal in that quarter.
Leading 24-20 early in the fourth quarter following another Bengals field goal, Mahomes completed a second-down pass to tight end Travis Kelce, who was stripped and turned it over while fighting for extra yards.
It was an uncharacteristic mistake from Kelce in a game in which he was uncharacteristically quiet. Mahomes, though, said he wanted to get the ball back to him quickly and reaffirmed his confidence in his star tight end.
“I just tell him to continue to be himself, I mean we’ve seen Travis do that many times,” Mahomes said, adding: “I’m taking Travis fighting for extra yards every single time because that’s the kind of competitor he is.”
Cincinnati flipped the script from there and controlled the final quarter. A 10-play, 53-yard drive in the immediate aftermath of the fumble ended in another touchdown pass from Burrow, this time to running back Chris Evans from eight yards out. That put the Bengals ahead by three points with just under nine minutes to play.
Despite all that time left on the clock, the Chiefs only saw the ball once more. Kansas City pieced together its own 10-play drive, but their version traversed just 38 total yards. On the final offensive play of the possession, Mahomes came up hobbled after being sacked by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai. After Mahomes gingerly approached the sideline, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker tried a 55-yard field goal that would have tied the contest, but his attempt sailed wide right.
After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that Mahomes should be OK despite hurting his foot.
The Bengals burned off the rest of the game clock from there, 3:19 of it, picking up three first downs along the way while converting on third downs twice.
An inability to get off the field was one of the major factors in why the Chiefs came up short. The Bengals went 7-of-11 on third-down attempts for the game.
“I didn’t think we tackled as well as we had been,” Reid said, adding: “Everybody’s got a little piece of this.”
Mahomes posted pedestrian numbers in the loss, by his standards, going 16-of-27 for 223 yards and one touchdown pass along with the rushing score. That’s his lowest yardage total in a game this season and it snapped his streak of six straight games with 300+ yards passing.
His counterpart, Burrow, completed 25-of-31 passes for 286 yards and two passing touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown of his own.
Mahomes said that he trusts Reid’s judgement in regard to attempting the long field goal, while Reid said it was one of several things that went wrong in the loss.
“You can’t turn the ball over against a good team, and you surely can’t miss a field goal,” Reid said.
With this result in Cincinnati, the fight for the top spot in the playoffs is now even tighter. Five teams are now within one game of each other for the top spot, including the Chiefs, Bengals, Bills, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.
The Chiefs have one of the easiest schedules remaining from that group. Their final five opponents, including two meetings with the Denver Broncos, have a combined winning percentage of .344.
Next week, Kansas City will play the first of those two contests versus Denver, with kickoff set for 3:05 p.m. on Dec. 11.
For more reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, check out Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-3 p.m., and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-6:00 p.m. Monday on 580 WIBW.