After placing last in the NFL with a 2-14 record in 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs should be proud of 2013's 11-5 season, and making the playoffs. But the city and its newspapers are not dealing well with the team's crushing Saturday playoff loss.
Everything was going according to plan. The Chiefs were up 31-10 over the Indianapolis Colts at halftime during Saturday's wildcard playoff game, and the team's offense was firing on all cylinders. Runningback Jamal Charles, the Chief's biggest offensive weapon, went down with an injury, but quarterback Alex Smith was having the best game of his year. He had two huge 60+ yard completions during the first half, after throwing only one during the regular season.
The Chiefs scored early in the second half, giving the team a 28 point, possibly insurmountable lead. But then things dramatically changed. The Colts came all the way back to win the game in the final two minutes, 46-44. This happened despite Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throwing three interceptions.
Now the tortured sports town must cope with disappointment, again, after a year when hopes were high and things seemed so promising. The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger tried his best to reconcile what happened with the team's history of incompetence. The results are depressing, to say the least:
The Chiefs In The Playoffs is once again a cruel way to begin a joke around Kansas City. Nationally, they are again the NFL’s version of henchmen, anonymous extras in someone else’s highlight. They’ve now suffered excruciating playoff losses to three generations of Colts quarterbacks.
A younger generation of Chiefs fans who can’t remember The No Punt Game and only heard about Lin Elliott now have a gut-punch of their very own. A franchise playoff history that reads like a torture device is now updated for the Millennials. They can call their grandfathers and argue over whether the Colts scoring on a fumble off a lineman’s helmet is worse than Jan Stenrud missing three field goals against the Dolphins on Christmas.
Only one team has gagged a bigger lead in the playoffs, which in the cruelest twist of all is the only way an otherwise inspired season could be tainted. The only way to overshadow one of the great one-year turnarounds in league history is to drool away one of the biggest leads in NFL playoff history.
Mellinger's whole game report is a masterwork of tortured sports fandom. He is the friend you know not to call for a few hours after a big loss.
But Mellinger's editor perhaps did an even better job summing up the feelings of a heartbroken city:
Editor (Drunk?): The sports cover of the KC Star today pic.twitter.com/WHa2qe6eAl— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) January 5, 2014
That's one way to deal with your feelings.