KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s always been the second half of games that has kept the Kansas City Chiefs from beating the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ahead of the AFC Championship on Sunday, the Bengals boast three consecutive wins in 13 months over the Chiefs including the 2022 AFC Championship.
In the first matchup of Patrick Mahomes vs. Joe Burrow in Week 17 of the 2021 season, the Bengals won 34-31.
In the game, Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase erupted for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, the Chiefs entered the second half with a 28-17 lead.
Chase’s final TD cut the lead to four points and a Tyler Boyd TD gave the Bengals a 31-28 lead early in the fourth quarter.
While the Chiefs tied the game with a little over six minutes left, the Bengals used all 6:04 to drain the clock and end the game with a game-winning field goal to pull off the win. A key moment in that drive was a 3rd and 27 conversion where the Chiefs blitzed and Burrow hit Chase on a back shoulder throw in one on one coverage.
Kansas City also scored three points in the second half and it’s difficult to beat any team when being outscored 17-3 in a half.
The 2022 AFC Championship was highly anticipated; the Chiefs lost the first matchup in Cincinnati and thanks to the Bengals eliminating the number one seed Tennessee Titans. They had to come to Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs were coming off of one of their most exciting games in franchise history and arguably the most exciting playoff game ever after beating the Buffalo Bills in overtime in the AFC Divisional Round.
The Chiefs started fast in this game, jumping out to a 21-3 lead by the middle of the second quarter.
The first half ended with a 21-10 Chiefs lead that could have been 28-10 but an Eli Apple tackle on the goal line prevented Tyreek Hill from getting into the end zone as time expired in what subsequently led to a downward spiral for the rest of the game.
In the second half, the Bengals scored 11 straight points to tie the game at 21 by the fourth quarter.
When the Bengals took a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had 6:04 of their own time to go win the game but they ended the game with a field goal that sent the game into overtime after Mahomes was strip-sacked.
The Chiefs only had possession of the ball for 14 seconds to start overtime because Mahomes threw an interception to a double-covered Hill. The Bengals spent 5:24 going 42 yards to clinch a Super Bowl berth with another game-winning field goal.
Kansas City was once again outscored 17-3 in the second half.
Chase only had 54 yards and a touchdown on six catches while receiver Tee Higgins had 103 yards but the biggest offensive stat is running back Joe Mixon running for 88 yards on 21 carries.
The ground game combined with a stiff defense helped keep the Chiefs in check.
This year’s Week 13 matchup was a bit more back and forth than the two previous ones.
Kansas City took a 17-14 lead to open the third quarter and made the game 24-17 after the Bengals tied it with a FG.
But that was the end of the scoring for the Chiefs as the Bengals scored 10 unanswered in the fourth quarter to beat the Chiefs for the third straight game.
While the Chiefs did score more than three points in the second half, they scored 0 points in the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by several Chiefs miscues.
Travis Kelce fumbled for the 12th time in his pro career and the Bengals scored on the next drive, Harrison Butker missed a game tying field goal on the next drive and on Burrow’s last pass of the game after the two minute warning on third down, rookie corner Joshua Williams was draped over Tee Higgins but the pass was in a place where only Higgins could catch it for a 14 yard gain to clinch the win.
The main summary of all these matchups is that the Bengals have been a better second half team when they’ve played the Chiefs.
Every game has been a barn burner between the two teams but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has shown that he can manage the clock better than Andy Reid when the time calls for it.
For the Chiefs to get over the Cincinnati hump, Reid will have to call a master class game in the fourth quarter.