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Chiefs’ loss to Titans was just the latest in a long history of crushing playoff defeats

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Heartbreaking postseason losses are a hallmark of the Chiefs over the last two-plus decades.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs are known for rolling through the regular season only to fail spectacularly in the playoffs. That didn’t change Saturday when Kansas City dropped a 22-21 heartbreaker to the Titans.

The Chiefs have won just one playoff game since the 1994 season, and they haven’t won a single playoff game at home in that span. Saturday was the team’s fifth home playoff loss in a row, dropping the Chiefs’ postseason record to 2-6 all-time in Arrowhead Stadium.

Alex Smith has gone 1-4 in postseason play in Kansas City. That one win was a 30-0 beatdown against a Brian Hoyer-led Texans team two years ago. Smith said the latest loss was the worst yet.

It doesn’t make it any easier, but with such a consistent history of playoff losses over the past two-plus decades, at least Chiefs fans must be used to the disappointment by now.

Here are their most painful in that time:

Jan. 6, 2018: Titans 22, Chiefs 21

The Chiefs didn’t just lose this game. The Chiefs blew a 21-3 lead, allowing 19 unanswered points in the second half.

Andy Reid was mad about the officiating, including a questionable call on a sack-fumble on Marcus Mariota changed the flow of the game. But Kansas City also had its chances to win. The Chiefs went for it on fourth-and-9 just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Albert Wilson couldn’t come up with a catch to keep the Chiefs’ drive alive.

Hope sparked once more when it looked like a Derrick Henry fumble was recovered by Derrick Johnson, who ran it back for what could have been a game-winning touchdown.

It looked like the Chiefs’ playoff curse was going to be lifted and they’d have their first home postseason win in 23 years. So those fans were left devastated in Arrowhead once again when officials ruled that Henry was down by contact. The Titans kept the ball and ran out the clock to hand the Chiefs a crushing defeat.

Jan. 15, 2017: Steelers 18, Chiefs 16

The Chiefs rode a 12-4 record to the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the 2016 season. They left without a win, after falling to a Steelers team that scored nothing but field goals. Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell even set an NFL postseason record with his six successful kicks.

Kansas City could have tied this one up and sent it to overtime with just over two minutes left to play. All the Chiefs needed to do was convert a two-point attempt, which they did with an Alex Smith pass to Demetrius Harris. But an obvious hold by Eric Fisher forced another attempt and it failed.

Jan. 4, 2014: Colts 45, Chiefs 44

The loss to the Titans wasn’t even the first time the Chiefs have blown such a comfortable lead in the postseason.

When the Colts came back to beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round after the 2013 season, it was the second-biggest comeback in postseason history. The Colts were behind by 28 points in the third quarter when Andrew Luck led a furious rally in Indianapolis. It took a nearly miraculous fumble recovery and score from Luck, who caught Donald Brown’s fumble off the bounce and dove into the end zone.

Now four years later, Andy Reid is 0-2 in this kind of game.

Jan. 11, 2004: Colts 38, Chiefs 31

The Chiefs not only have a tragic recent playoff history, but they have a lot of bad memories of the Colts.

The Chiefs were making their first playoff appearance in six years. It was also just the second game in playoff history where neither team punted a single time.

Kansas City’s top-scoring offense had no trouble putting up points, but the Chiefs couldn’t slow down Peyton Manning and the Colts. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was asked to resign two days after the loss. It was the only game Kansas City lost at home all season.

Jan. 4, 1998: Broncos 14, Chiefs 10

This one hurts a little more because it was an AFC West rival that handed the Chiefs a close playoff loss.

The Chiefs came into the postseason as the top seed in the AFC after going 13-3 in 1997. Kansas City held John Elway to just 10-of-19 for 170 yards and no touchdowns. But the Broncos still pulled off the second road playoff win in team history.

Jan. 7, 1996: Colts 10, Chiefs 7

This one has a nickname: the Lin Elliott game.

Kansas City went 13-3 in 1995, but couldn’t get past the Colts in the postseason thanks to their kicker, Lin Elliott. Elliott missed not one, not two, but three field goals.

It wasn’t all Elliott’s fault. The Chiefs also turned the ball over four times. But Derrick Thomas still said after the game that he wanted to “kick his ass.”


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