The stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the suddenly silent Cincinnati Bengals by a final score of 23-20 is actually pronounced “Arrowhead.” If Mike Hilton, Eli Apple, and company did not know it then, they certainly do now. You can hear the cries and anguished keyboard strikes of Who Dey Nation using the trending topic of #NFLRigged all the way in Kansas City as the reason why the Chiefs are moving on to their third Super Bowl berth in four years. The real reason why the Chiefs have emerged victorious is that the Chiefs did not blink. The Bengals did.
Patrick Mahomes, who will take home his second MVP, gritted through a high ankle sprain to lead his team to victory. Mahomes threw for 326 yards on 29/43 passes and two touchdowns and earned every single one of them. An impressive accomplishment in and of itself, Mahomes had to put up those numbers with three of his wide receivers leaving the game with injuries.
Juju Smith-Schuster only had one catch for seven yards before leaving the game with a knee injury. Mecole Hardman, who had just come back for his game after being activated off the injured reserve, re-aggravated his pelvis injury after only two catches for ten yards. Kadarius Toney also left the game with a non-contact ankle injury after only one catch for nine yards.
Enter Marquez Valdez-Scantling. MVS was pressed into the WR1 role after the rash of injuries to the wide receiver corps and delivered the best game of his career. MVS hauled in six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown which gave the Chiefs a 20-13 lead. His production was critical as many of his fellow receivers were filling out a M*A*S*H unit. Valdez-Scantling’s issues with drops have been well-documented, but they did not show up today as he came through big-time for his teammates.
Given the recent success that the Bengals have had against the Chiefs, one can understand how Cincinnati could be confident. The Chiefs have been defeated three times in a row coming into this game, a fact that many members of the media were all-to-happy to point out, so the Bengals took it upon themselves to puff their collective chest out a bit.
Mike Hilton took it upon himself to agitate the entirety of Chiefs Kingdom by referring to Arrowhead as “Burrowhead”. His fellow cornerback and noted troll Eli Apple also managed to make every other NFL fan base honorary Chiefs fan with a series of distasteful tweets on top of his usual less-than-stellar performances.
Despite the bravado and braggadocio, there was still a game to be played and a winner to be decided on the field. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow went nearly throw-for-throw with Mahomes, putting up 270 yards and a wonderful touchdown to Tee Higgins in the second quarter. In the end, the Chiefs’ defense proved to be too much for Burrow.
The pass rush, buoyed by a god-tier effort by Chiefs All-World defensive lineman Chris Jones, got to Burrow for five sacks and several more pressures and hits. Burrow was also picked off twice, one of which was in the fourth quarter with the game tied 20-20. Burrow had another opportunity to seal the game late in the fourth, but an inopportune intentional grounding call followed by Jones’ second sack of the game a few plays later gave the Chiefs the ball back with 30 seconds left.
Skyy Moore, who overcame his well-documented returning demons in place of the injured Kadarius Toney, took the ensuing punt back to midfield to give Kansas City a shot at the win. A swing pass to Pacheco and an incompletion later, the Bengals’ defense finally blinked.
That late hit by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai was the absolute worst thing that the Bengals could have done in that situation. Instead of making the Chiefs drive into field goal range with eight seconds and no timeouts, that 15-yard penalty set Harrison Butker up for the 45-yard game-winner to send Kansas City back to the Super Bowl.
Some people would like to believe that karma is not real and the universe does not send back what gets put in. Events like that late hit would suggest otherwise. Cincinnati played a hell of a game and gave Kansas City all they could handle and then some.
But when you talk trash to the level that Bengals’ players, their fans, and even their elected officials talked, sometimes the universe has a little something for you. Karma can bite back sometimes, and it bit the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals right on the ass. Maybe next time, choose your words a little more carefully. The AFC still belongs to Kansas City, and there is not a thing anyone can do about it now.
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