KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the first matchup of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 season, the first half showed off the Chiefs’ excellence on offense as they jumped to a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for two touchdowns before the Bengals could even get on the scoreboard.
By halftime, Kansas City had a 28-17 lead but the Bengals’ offensive connection between receiver Ja’Marr Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow was already apparent and dangerous: the pair already connected for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
In the second half, Chase and the Bengals completely took over the game holding the Chiefs to three points in the second half and winning 34-31 on a game-winning field goal. Chase’s 11 catches, 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns set several NFL and Bengals rookie receiving records.
With the Bengals now coming to Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship, Burrow says a fast start will be key in beating the Chiefs again after starting the last game down 14 points early.
“You always want to get off to a strong start, put some points on the board early and kind of control the game like we have the last two weeks,” Burrow said on Wednesday.
“Can’t let a team like this get out in front of you ’cause then they put a lot of pressure on you on defense. They’re gonna blitz you and make you uncomfortable back there if you get down.”
Mahomes and the Chiefs had what many regard as an all-time great playoff performance against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round. While Kansas City celebrated the thrilling overtime win, Mahomes says he knows that they have to turn the page very quickly.
“I did when I came in on Monday morning. You celebrate with your family and everything for that big win that we had,” Mahomes said on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to go out there and win the AFC Championship and then try to get to the Super Bowl.
We understand that this is a great football team we’re going up against, they’ve already beat us once this
year. If we don’t give it everything we have in preparation during the week, then we’re not going to win
at the end of the week. I kind of turned the page quickly and I’m ready to go.”
Mahomes and Burrow have posted very good playoff numbers throughout their short postseason careers.
They also both have dynamic weapons with Mahomes having Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, while Burrow has Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Most eyes will be on Hill and Chase though, especially with Chase looking to repeat his last performance against the Chiefs.
With lots of moving pieces to the Bengals offense, Burrow said that the receiving room as a whole is very unselfish and that is what allows them to thrive.
“Ja’Marr could go for zero yards and [Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd] combine for 300 and Ja’Marr would be just as happy as if he had a 250 yard game. I think that’s very unique to us. I don’t know if a lot of receiving rooms in the league have that and that’s what makes those guys great.”
While Burrow was a highly sought four-star recruit coming out of high school, Mahomes was a three-star recruit with offers from Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Rice. While those may seem like good enough offers, Mahomes said this rating helped drive him to be the quarterback he is now.
“Whenever you think you should be getting those offers and getting to go to the schools you wanted to go to when you were young and you’re not getting the offers, I think it makes you hungry.”
“Some of these players in these big games, there’s a lot of not highly recruited guys that had that hunger and that drive to go out there and prove the people that believed in them right.”
That hunger drives many players that are currently in the NFL and on both of these teams.
We shall see how hungry both of these quarterbacks and their teams are on Sunday.