When the Chiefs headed into the locker room at halftime of the 2022 AFC Championship Game against the Bengals, it looked like a third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl was just around the corner.
Following an electric start to the game by Patrick Mahomes and company, Kansas City was leading 21-10 at the break. However, something happened between the moment they left the field and came back for the third quarter.
The Chiefs never looked like their true selves again, Cincinnati put things level and eventually won the game in overtime. Months later, Mahomes suggested why his team suffered that shocking collapse.
Patrick Mahomes opens up on the Chiefs’ loss to Bengals in 2022 AFC Championship Game
“The second half of that game: I don’t want to say we relaxed, but I mean when you lead like you did, you want to make sure you win the game, but you don’t want to play like you’re playing not to lose,” Mahomes told Kevin Clark of The Ringer. “And I feel like that’s what we did. As a team, we were playing not to lose, we were playing just to get to the Super Bowl.
“If you look, they didn’t do much different from the first half to the second half. We just didn’t execute at a high enough level. They were playing the same coverages and we weren’t executing. Then momentum gets in the other team’s favor and when you’re playing a good football team, bad stuff happens.”