The Kansas City Chiefs dropped their third game in the 2022 calendar year to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati became the first franchise to ever beat a Chiefs team led by Patrick Mahomes three times, including playoff games. Naturally, the Chiefs’ star quarterback fielded questions after the game about why his team has been unable to get past this Bengals squad. The first order of business was to give Joe Burrow and company their flowers.
“First off, they have a great quarterback, and a guy who’s won a lot of football games, even if that was in college, and now he’s won a lot of football games in the NFL,” Mahomes said. “He’s someone that competes to the very end too. They’ve got playmakers all over there, they’re well-coached, have a good defense.”
Outside of the clear talent on the Bengals roster and coaching staff, each of the three losses has come down to a lack of execution for Kansas City. Cincinnati has been better prepared to execute at a high level in the most critical moments of the game — such as the fourth quarter.
“At the end of the day, they executed at a higher level in the critical situations. We started off slow, we got back in the game in the flow of things, and we had a turnover late, and the missed kick,” Mahomes said. “If you just try to take away those two things in the fourth quarter, and if you’re playing good teams and you make those turnover on downs basically in the fourth quarter, those are the things that kind of bite you in the end.”
What is it about the Bengals’ defense that makes things so tough on Mahomes? It starts with their success in taking away his safety net — Travis Kelce. Their ability to mix and match coverages at will and in the right spots also doesn’t seem to hurt.
“Yeah, they just have a well-put-together team,” Mahomes said. “. . .Their defense changes up a lot of different coverages. They did a good job trying to take Travis (Kelce) away as much as possible, and that’s why you saw a lot of the other guys making catches. I feel like we executed at a very high level, aside from that one three-and-out drive. It wasn’t high enough because we didn’t win. We’ve just got to go back and look at the film, and just try to get better from this game.”
The answers might ring a bit hollow given that they’re eerily similar to prior losses to Cincinnati. Against the defensive look that gave them the most trouble in the AFC title game loss — a three-man rush with eight players dropped into coverage — Mahomes felt the execution was marginally better. But as it goes, you must limit errors and execute for a full four quarters when you’re playing against another good football team.
“We definitely executed at a higher level than we did during the playoff game,” Mahomes said. “I thought our guys did a great job of blocking there, they got us that look at the very end. We wish we could’ve had a little more time, but at the same time, they had a really good game plan, and I thought we executed at a high level during some points of the game. But if you’re going to beat a good football team then you have to execute at a high level
throughout the entire game.”