The unthinkable drought is still alive for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have now lost an NFL record six straight home playoff games. This is astounding for a team that is tremendously helped by crowd noise and Arrowhead Stadium holds the record for loudest stadium in the world. But, the playoffs seem to be a different beast for the Chiefs to tackle no matter how much advantages or disadvantages they have when playing in their own building.
It’s Not How You Start… It’s How You Finish
The Chiefs basically dominated the Titans in the first half, going into the half up 21-3. The defense forced Marcus Mariota into bad throws. Offensively, Alex Smith played his A game, throwing pinpoint strikes, and fooling the Titans defensive backs.
The second half was a complete one-eighty. Travis Kelce did not return for the second half after suffering a concussion. This left Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense isolated. Kareem Hunt only saw eleven rushing attempts, despite being the regular season leading in rushing yards.
Even though Kansas City’s time of possession seemed very low in the second half, Hunt did not seem to get very many opportunities to get rolling. But, people can always complain and look to the play calling when looking back at the defeat. The defense though, just couldn’t find ways to stop Derrick Henry on runs that seemed to always gain meaningful yards. Also, Mariota completed more precise throws than he did in the first half. In addition, he made plays with his legs. When the clock hit zeros, the Titans won by one measly point, 22-21. The second half saw the Titans rally and outscore the Chiefs nineteen to nothing.
This game had shades of past playoff losses and also last year’s regular season loss to the Titans. The Titans first touchdown of the game came in third quarter, when Mariota caught his own deflected pass. This displayed shades of when Andrew Luck caught his own pass that deflected right back to him and he scored, when the Colts charged back to erase a 38-10 deficit to beat the Chiefs 45-44 in the 2013 Wild Card game.
Similar to the 2016 regular season loss to the Titans, the Chiefs jumped to an early lead. In the end, another tight game and a painful shot to the gut for Kansas City and Chiefs Kingdom.
Dawn of A New Era?
This could have very well been Alex Smith’s last game in a Chiefs uniform. Many reports show Patrick Mahomes will begin his run in Kansas City next season. As a result, the Chiefs will look to trade Smith. Smith still has one year left on his contract. Next year, the contract contains twenty million dollar cap hit to the Chiefs, according to Spotrac.
The top trade targets seem to point to the Cleveland Browns or Arizona Cardinals, both bringing familiarity to Smith. Being in Cleveland allows Smith another stint with John Dorsey as his general manager. Arizona would pit Smith back in the NFC West, where he began his career with San Francisco. Time will tell though, as there seem to be a good handful of free agent and tradable veteran quarterbacks. There is also a quarterback draft class that has a lot to offer, but could be overblown as well.