The Chiefs undoubtedly wouldn’t have made it to the AFC championship if not for Patrick Mahomes, but there’s no denying the quarterback — perhaps along with head coach Andy Reid — made a game-altering miscue at the end of the first half in Kansas City’s eventual 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mahomes and the Chiefs, with five seconds left in the first half while possessing the ball at the Cincinnati 1-yard line and no timeouts, tried to run one final touchdown play before the intermission despite essentially having a field goal in their pocket. Mahomes threw it to Tyreek Hill, who came across the field in motion, only to have the receiver get tackled before crossing the goal line. The reception, which, again, came with no timeouts left, ended the first half. Kansas City failed to capitalize on its possession and took a 21-10 lead into the half, rather than what very easily could have been 24-10.
“Yeah, we had just ran a play it took four seconds, the play before, when I burned it,” Mahomes said during his postgame press conference, via the team. “So, I knew that the time was low, obviously. I knew we need to get points. We called a play that we were trying to get someone over the middle quick and then I suppose throw the ball away. I got a little greedy there, tried to get it to Tyreek and get a touchdown, they had two people out there. So definitely, I mean, in the long run of things it looks bad, but if we had another chance I would have went for another play again.”
Obviously, the three points Kansas City could have scored at that time proved a major difference. If all things went the same from there on out, obviously a big if, the Chiefs would have had a chance for a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid somewhat shielded Mahomes while taking blame for the decision. CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson reported on the broadcast that Reid was disappointed with how the half ended.
“I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone, I probably gave him the wrong play, first of all, to start with,” Reid said after the game. “I could have given (Mahomes) something better than that where the play was open in the end zone and then we wouldn’t have to go through that. But I’ll take responsibility for that one.
“We had enough time for another play, but got to get one that’s open in the end zone.”
The decision probably wouldn’t have looked as bad if the Chiefs, who received the second-half kickoff, did something on their first possession after the intermission, but they didn’t. Kansas City punted the ball after covering 16 yards in five plays and scored a mere field goal in the final 30 minutes.
Cincinnati advanced to Super Bowl LVI with the win.