Kansas City, Mo. In the first half of AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs were having their way with the Cincinnati Bengals — but there is 60-minutes in a game and the Chiefs forgot to show up in the second half.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was nearly perfect in the first half but his two interceptions in the second half was the difference in the game. Cool Joe Burrows and the Bengals took advantage of those costly mistakes with a 24-point output to beat the Chiefs in overtime 27-24.
The Chiefs manhandled the Bengals in the first half of play, racing to a 21-10 halftime lead behind Mahomes’ three touchdown passes. He hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill, wide receiver Mecole Hardman and tight end Travis Kelce for touchdown strikes.
The KC offense sputtered in the second half a lot had to do with the Bengals’ defense, Mahomes never looked comfortable in the second half and completed three of ten passes after the break. A stark contrast from his first half production in which he completed 18 of 21 for 220 yards.
“It’s my responsibility we do better offensively and as a team, and obviously didn’t get that done that second half, so I’ve got to do a better job there,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll go back and look at things and make the adjustments that we need to going into the offseason. “Unfortunately, this is so final and that’s where we sit now. Our players were disappointed. They put a lot of time and effort into this, putting themselves in this position for a championship game. I’m proud of them for that.”
The Bengals capitalized on the Chiefs’ miscues in the third quarter, putting up 18 points in that period. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow hit running back Samjae Perine, who scampered down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown, and then found wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for a 2-yard score.
After Chase’s touchdown, Burrow completed a pass to wide receiver Trent Taylor for a 2-point conversion, tying the game at 21. Cincy ran the wave into the fourth quarter and took a 24-21 lead after kicker Evan McPherson drilled a 52-yard field goal with 6:04 remaining in regulation had the Chiefs still searching for answers.
Cincy used everyone in their arsenal. Running back Joe Mixon had 21 carries with a game-high 88 rushing yards, wide-receiver Tee Higgins caught six passes for a game-high 103 yards. Chase finished with 54 yards and a touchdown.
“Our defense was unbelievable,” Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game. “Usually when you lose the coin flip to those guys, you’re going home. But our defense really stepped up and made plays in the second half. And on offense, we made plays when we had to.”
Mahomes completed 26-of-39 pass attempts for 275 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. After halftime, he was 8-of-18 for no touchdowns and two bad picks.
Kelce caught 10-of-11 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown.
In this AFC Championship rematch, the Chiefs had 282 yards, 21 points and converted all their third downs in the first half.
But they only managed just 83 yards and three points in the second half of play.
The field goal in the second half– only came at the end of the fourth quarter, following a horrible series in which KC suffered back-to-back sacks by Sam Hubbard and lost of 20 yards.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrows finished the night 23-of-38 pass attempts for 250 yards, two touchdowns and a interception. But his patience in the pocket and his ability to use his legs were paramount.
“I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone,” Reid said. “I probably gave them the wrong play, first of all. I could’ve given them something better than that where the play was open in the end zone and we wouldn’t have had to go through that.”