Well, we’ve certainly been in these parts before.
Without the lesson, apparently.
A late-season loss to Cincinnati, riddled with a bad turnover and a worse late-game coaching decision.
The Bengals beat the Chiefs 27-24 in a game that could have massive implications on playoff seeding, and the Chiefs will have no shortage of regret.
Because for the second straight year, they voluntarily put their best player on the sidelines to watch it all unfold.
That’s where we start the five observations from immediately after the game:
1. Here we are again
The Bengals trusted their quarterback to win the game.
The Chiefs asked their kicker to tie it.
We’ll cover four more items in this, but that’s the story. And I’ll have more on it later.
The Bengals put the ball in their hands of their quarterback — despite the Chiefs being out of timeouts — and he delivered with a 14-yard pass to Tee Higgins on 3rd-and-11.
The Chiefs took the ball out of their quarterback’s hands — electing instead to have Harrison Butker try a 55-yard field goal just to try to tie game. He missed, by the way.
Cincinnati played to win and got the win.
2. The supposed mismatch
Look, the Bengals offense is good for a reason. They throw it well. They run it well.
But if there’s one place you can get them, it’s up front. The offensive line, despite a complete overhaul, rates in the bottom third of the league.
The mismatch, though, swung the other way. The Bengals offensive line provided Joe Burrow more than enough time in the pocket, and when you have that trio of receivers, that’s going to cause some problems.
The Chiefs — who had a streak of five straight games with three sacks — got to Burrow just once.
A gift, too.
On the final drive, Burrow gave himself up on a play designed to waste time, and George Karlaftis fell on him. If you can’t win up front against this offense, you’ll have long days, and the defense had a long day.
The defense had played well recently, but it doesn’t bode well that their stiffest test in five weeks made them look below average.
3. Game on
Well, the race in the AFC certainly just got a lot more interesting.
The Bills are back atop the standings, via the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chiefs.
A silver lining, though: Kansas City has the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, and the Bills will play the Jets, Dolphins and Bengals over their final five games.
But make no mistake, the Chiefs have lost the advantage they had when the day began.
4. That other fourth-down decision
See, the Bengals would’ve made the same decision.
A year ago in the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs whiffed before the half, scoring zero because they went for the touchdown instead of the field goal.
The Bengals made the same choice Sunday.
Same result, too.
In the final sequence of the opening half — and this should ring a bell for those who remember the AFC Championship Game — the Bengals elected to go for a fourth-down try to extend a one-possession to two possessions just before halftime.
The play? An end-around to wide receiver Trent Taylor.
But Chiefs defensive end Carlos Dunlap, making his initial return to Cincinnati, was not remotely fooled. He tackled Taylor in the backfield for a loss.
But the right call.
It’s a process-over-results play, and that decision typically improves the Bengals’ chances to win by 3.6%, according to Ben Baldwin’s model. That’s a fairly big number.
And that’s why the late-game decision works — you trust the process, even when the results don’t work. Even after the results don’t work.
5. The legs
It’s amazing how we’re watching a quarterback shatter every “quickest to do it” passing record, and several of the most memorable plays of his young career have nothing to do with the pass.
Instead, his legs.
But the throwing arm still came in handy.
On a fourth-down play from the 2-yard line, Mahomes scrambled up the gut of the defense — though certainly not a tuck-and-run — and leaped toward the end zone from about five feet shy of the goal line. He reached the ball over by mere inches, not a care in the world for Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt ready to greet him there. In fact, Taylor-Britt apparently took the brunt of the hit, injuring his shoulder.
This should’ve been a play we are talking about for awhile. Instead, Travis Kelce fumbled on the ensuing possession, and, well, I’ve mentioned the rest.