The Kansas City Chiefs have lost three straight to the Cincinnati Bengals, and it’s largely because they keep making avoidable mistakes.
Football isn’t complicated. Make mistakes against good teams, you’ll often lose.
In the last calendar year, the Kansas City Chiefs have played the Cincinnati Bengals three times. They’ve made errors three times. They’ve lost … three times.
On Sunday, the mistakes continued for Kansas City in a 27-24 loss at Paycor Stadium. The same score as last season’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, and the same margin as Cincinnati’s Week 17 victory (34-31) at home only weeks earlier.
The stat sheet rarely tells the story, but in this case, it does a damn good job.
Across the three aforementioned games, the Chiefs have committed three turnovers. The Bengals have lost one. Kansas City has allowed a whopping 10 first downs to be converted via penalty. Cincinnati has permitted one. Against what has consistently been a porous offensive line, the Chiefs have six combined sacks of quarterback Joe Burrow, including only one in each of the past two tilts.
Additionally, the Chiefs have had a kickoff returned for a touchdown wiped out by penalty, and been tackled in-bounds without a timeout to lose a scoring opportunity at the opponent’s 1-yard line.
In last season’s Week 17 loss, Kansas City gave up a conversation on 3rd and 27, was called for encroachment, took a penalty on 4th and goal, saw itself saved with offsetting fouls, and then did it again. That was all on one drive. As it was, the final drive before Bengals kicker Evan McPherson won the affair on a 20-yard chip shot.
In all three games, the Chiefs have held leads in the fourth quarter. In all three, they’ve surrendered the advantage. This Sunday, it was a 24-20 score when Kansas City star tight end Travis Kelce fumbled near midfield, giving the Bengals the ball and, soon, a go-ahead touchdown.
Pundits will search for the answers as to why Cincinnati owns Kansas City. There will be conversation about Burrow and his counterpart, Patrick Mahomes. There will be talk about the Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and how he’s getting the best of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. Some of it will have merit, much of it will be the typical conjecture that spews forth from morning shows and radio segments.
The reality is Kansas City keeps making the mistakes Cincinnati does not.
Again, football isn’t complicated. Until the above sentence changes, the Chiefs are going to lose.