A loss never hits your heart more than when your team shows their weaknesses to the entire country in a playoff game. The Kansas City Chiefs and fans will not forget this one for a long time.
The cold air of Kansas City was a nice complement to the feelings that each fan had leaving the sold-out Arrowhead Stadium.
Going from worst to first while producing one of the best rushing attacks that the league has ever seen, the Chiefs rolled to the playoffs with a division leading 10-6 record—a far cry from the 4-12 showing of last season.
The Chiefs hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
Kansas City took an early 7-3 lead on the strength of a 41-yard touchdown run from Pro Bowler Jamaal Charles. The game remained up in the air heading into halftime, even after the Ravens drove down the field and took a late second quarter lead.
Chiefs fans had reason to be optimistic as the third quarter kicked off. Holding the Ravens to a tough 10 points and a fair performance from the offense, it appeared to be any team’s game.
Then it got ugly. The Ravens put up 13 unanswered points in the third quarter alone. This is an easy feat to accomplish when you have the short field that the Chiefs were giving them.
A fumble, an interception, a turnover on downs and another fumble gave the Ravens the ball and very manageable field position, and that was only the third quarter.
Even with the Chiefs offense stalling and then breaking down, the defense kept the red and gold in the game with solid play from the “bend-but-don’t-break” playbook of Romeo Crenell.
The final couple shots hit Kansas City hard. After stopping the Ravens on a 3rd-and-long, linebacker Demorrio Williams jumped off-sides on a Ravens punt, giving running back Willis McGahee a clean shot at the Chiefs throats, pulling off a 25-yard touchdown run just a few plays later.
A loss like this is becoming habit for the Chiefs, who have not won a playoff game since 1993.
We have seen it before this season, the Chiefs come out ready to fight and then let the game go after halftime.
High hopes may have been going around like the common cold in Kansas City this week but we all knew that the Ravens have the more experienced team.
It is easy to forget all of the good things that have been accomplished this season after a disappointing finish to the season, but fans do have reason to keep their heads up.
Head Coach Todd Haley has done wonders with the young team that he has put together, defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell has given this defense the structure that it lacked over the better part of the decade, and the rookie class of 2010 will be more polished and have a much bigger impact moving into next season.
This year was a building block season. While the Chiefs will be watching the Super Bowl from home on February 6, they need not hang their heads.
With a talented-young set of players, a running back that will averages more than six yards per carry, a developing quarterback, a defense that can be rock solid and a coaching staff that is still putting the pieces in place, the fireworks are yet to come.
All we can do now is look to the sky and wait for next season.