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Kansas City Chiefs collapse to Bengals, missing Super Bowl for first time since 2019

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) kicks a 31-yard field goal during overtime in the AFC championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Bengals won 27-24.
Paul Sancya
Associated Press
Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) kicks a 31-yard field goal during overtime in the AFC championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Bengals won 27-24.

While the Chiefs dominated the first half, the Bengals staged an impressive comeback to win the AFC Championship 27-24 in overtime. Unlike last game, Kansas City couldn't capitalize on winning the coin toss.

Fresh from a thrilling overtime finish the week before, the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t as fortunate in the same circumstances during the AFC Championship game.

The Chiefs couldn’t even take advantage of winning the coin flip.

Instead, Cincinnati Bengals placekicker Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning 31-yard field goal, earning the Bengals their ticket to Super Bowl LVI with a 27-24 overtime win over the Chiefs.

In the first half, it appeared that the Chiefs were making their travel plans to Los Angles when they built a 21-3 lead. But the Bengals had other plans with a furious second-half comeback.

Like the Jan. 2 game at Cincinnati, when the Chiefs enjoyed a seemingly comfortable lead of 21-7, the Bengals would not lie down. They grabbed a 24-21 lead on a 52-year field goal with 6:04 left in the game, before a Harrison Butker field goal — for the second week in a row — forced the overtime as time ran out in regulation.

“I’ve got to be better,” Mahomes said in a post-game press conference. “When you’re up 21-3, you can’t lose that game.”

A large crowd of people are clustered together outdoors. They are all wearing orange and black Cincinnati Bengals fan gear.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A crowd of Bengals fans gather on the north end of Arrowhead Stadium prior to Sunday's AFC Championship game.

On the Chiefs’ only possession in the overtime, a Patrick Mahomes pass intended for Tyreek Hill bounced off the Chiefs receiver and into the hands of Bengals safety Vonn Bell. It was the second interception of the day for the Bengals.

In the Chiefs’ first three drives, Mahomes completed 13 of 14 passes for 154 yards. For the rest of the game, Mahomes completed only 10 of 25 for 121 yards.

“After playing so well in the first half, in the second half we were off a tick,” Mahomes said.

During the last four AFC Championship games that the Chiefs have played in their own stadium, they’ve won two and lost two.

Led by quarterback Joe Burrow, this will be the first Super Bowl appearance since 1989 for the Cincinnati Bengals, as WVXU reports. They'll face the Los Angeles Rams, who won Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, 20-17.

Super Bowl LVI is scheduled to take place Sun. Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Los Angeles.

Disappointed fans

A young woman wearing a Kansas City Chiefs jersey buries her head in her arms and clasps her hands together at a bar.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Chiefs fan Catie Jones avoids watching the screen at Buffalo Wild Wings in Independence on Sunday, as the Cincinnati Bengals drive to score the winning field goal in overtime in the AFC Championship in overtime.

It was an afternoon of high highs and low lows for Chiefs fans across the city, as the team dominated the first half and then steadily lost ground.

Watching the game from a packed Waldo Social on Sunday afternoon, 22-year-old Drew Perez said he was just happy the Chiefs made it this far.

“We did the best we could do," Perez said. "They had the better offense. I love the Chiefs to death, all day every day, but the Bengals got the best of us. it happens."

“I didn't think we were gonna make the playoffs, we were struggling so much at the start of the season," Perez continued.

Overland Park resident Samir Bhakta, 46, had to agree.

“This season’s been weird. We started off terrible then we got hot," Bhakta said. "But you know what? We’ll come back.”

A row of Kansas City Chiefs fans clad is red sit at a bar. Many appear dejected. On TV screens behind them, a Cincinnati Bengals football player can be seen celebrating.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Fans sitting at the bar at Buffalo Wild Wings in Independence react to the overtime field goal by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The AFC Championship was a poignant finish for JoBeth Arbanas, daughter of the late Fred Arbanas, the starting Chiefs tight end on the 1970 Super Bowl team. Fred Arbanas died on April 16, 2021.

“He would be so excited and so happy for the team,” she said while entering the stadium about an hour before kickoff.

JoBeth Arbanas wore a Chiefs jersey with her father’s name and jersey number, 84. “He just loves this group of players that are playing now.”

While the Bengals head to Los Angeles, the Chiefs will go through a self-assessment for the 2022 season.

“It hurts," said 23-year-old fan BJ Colbert. "It hurts. But we've been here before. We know the Super Bowl is in our reach. We’ll be back. Count on it."

Olathe resident AJ Kahn said these recent games have been a "rollercoaster," but he still feels confident about next season.

"We always feel comfortable when we have Mahomes," Kahn said.

Correction: Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow's name was misspelled in in earlier version of this story.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
Jacob Martin is a news intern at KCUR. Follow him on Twitter @jacob_noah or email him at Jacobmartin@kcur.org.
I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
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