Chiefs 51 Texans 31

Legendary Choke Job.

Jim Rome
January 13, 2020 - 9:33 am
Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce

USA Today

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That was one hell of a weekend. San Francisco started it off with a dominant win over the Vikings and an incredible postgame soundbite from Richard Sherman.

Vikings-Niners was a good game, but that soundbite was the best part of it. It usually is if we’re lucky enough to have someone stick a mic or a camera in Sherm’s face. Like he said, unless he has a shredded Achilles, this dude always delivers. Both on and off the field. 

And then all hell broke loose in Baltimore. But what went down in Baltimore was tame compared to yesterday in Kansas City. I’ll get to the Titans and Ravens in a minute, but I’ve got to start with Houston at Kansas City.

Because Baltimore’s start to their game was brutal, but KC saw Baltimore and shouted “Hey, y’all, watch this!” You think that’s bad? You think that’s blowing a golden opportunity? We can do so much worse. 

Let’s give up a touchdown on Houston’s opening drive. Not just a touchdown, but a wide ass open touchdown.

That was bad, but again, we can do worse. How about dropping easy passes? Sure, we can do that. But we can do so much worse too... How about a punt block on our first possession? Check! 

KC was already down 14-0 and it wasn’t even five minutes into the game. KC fans were stunned. And they were about to get pissed. 

Because everything that Kansas City had done well during the regular season was out the window. The Chiefs had good special teams in the regular season. Not just good. Really good. Number one according to PFF.  A great special teams unit, that promptly allows a punt block on the big stage. And then they fumble on the kick off. Houston scores again. 

21-0 Texans and Chiefs fans were booing. Nobody saw that coming. Nobody at all. Although maybe you should’ve after Saturday night, but even then, even if you thought Houston would get out to a great start, there was no way you saw Houston up 21-0 in the first quarter with the home fans booing their team. 

Because this was every KC fan’s nightmare. Sure, they’ve had some devastating playoff defeats. Sure, Chiefs fan, you’re conditioned to expect the worst this time of year. But admit it. This time it was going to be different. It was going to be different, but your team was better. And just as importantly, everything had lined up perfectly! You got the bye thanks to Miami. And got homefield advantage for the rest of the playoffs thanks to Tennessee. It was all there. The easiest path to the Super Bowl had opened up, but deep down…then again, this is the Chiefs; and these are the playoffs; and you have so much freaking scar tissue; that deep down you had to be worried: had to be fearing the worst.  Had to be thinking your team was going to blow it. Kansas City was going to go Kansas City, and then they, right on cue, they did. 

At least this time, the team that has tortured you in the past had the decency to get it over with early yesterday. The decency to put you out of your misery quickly: the decency to Choke out in the first quarter and then let you take relax for the next three. 

And then Houston was driving with a 21-0 lead, and looking to go four t.d.’s and drive a stake right through your heart. They were going to finish you right then and there, in the first quarter. But in the first of a series of whack decisions by Bill O’Brien, they opted for a 31 yard field goal instead of trying to convert 4th and 1 from the 13 with Deshaun Watson. They had their hands around your throat. But instead of choking you out, they let go. They went for the brake instead of the gas. And then everything changed.

Now…I’m not going to come in here and say that going for the field goal that taking the points and playing it safe explains what happened next. I’m going to give Kansas City the credit and say that Kansas City made it happen. But Houston obviously had something to do with it.  They were willing accomplices. The Texans were active in their own destruction. Hell yes they were! Starting with the kickoff after the field goal, which got returned to the Houston 42. If the Chiefs were looking for a spark, they found it. 

And Patrick Mahomes dumped gasoline all over the spark. Two plays later with a TD pass to Damien Williams.

24-7 Houston, but Arrowhead had been awoken. And so had the Texans ability to blow games. Because on the next possession, Houston tried a fake punt.

Well, that’s pretty freaking curious. Sure, you probably don’t want to give the ball back to Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes. You don’t want him getting in rhythm, and letting that crowd back in it. Especially, if Your defense can’t stop them. But if you aren’t going to go for it on 4th and 1 from the KC 13, then what the hell are you doing, going fake punt on 4th and 4 from your own 31. And if you really are going to do that, you are as hell better convert it because if you don’t, you know that is the play everyone is going to point to for the rest of the game and the entire offseason. Again, I’m all about playing aggressively, but where was that aggression on fourth and one, when you had a chance to go up four t.d.s’ and possibly finish right then and there? So you know what happens next: the chiefs aren’t fooled, Dustin Sorenson blows it up, and not only are the Chiefs back in the game, they’re the ones holding the dagger. At that point, with the Texans fully imploding, it wasn’t a question if KC would win, but by how much? 

Because here’s happened next: . A quick recap of the next few plays: 

KC touchdown.

Houston fumbles kickoff.

KC touchdown.

From 24-0 to 24-21 in three minutes and 24 seconds. The anatomy of a choke job. But Houston was just getting started. They had so much more to give. So many more ways to choke. And implode. Like another KC touchdown before halftime.

Think about that for a minute. Houston went from up 24-0 with less than 11 minutes to go in the first half to trailing 28-24 going into halftime. That’s almost impossible to do. If you told a team to blow a lead like that, I’m not sure they could’ve done it any better than Houston did. And save this bullcrap about, if you had told the Texans before the game, they’d be down just four going into halftime, on the road, in the AFC title game, they would have taken it. The hell they would. Not if they were spotted a 24 point lead, that could have been 28. And they were. And there was still so much more choking to do. 

Like coming out of halftime and giving up two more touchdowns to make it 41-24. 41 unanswered points. 41 unanswered points, in a playoff game. That’s straight stupid!  And. When Houston finally got on the board again, Kansas City scored yet again, giving them seven straight touchdowns. 

It was like Houston jumped out to a lead and then decided to just nap it out. And it went from the greatest win in team history to the greatest choke job in team history. I’m not taking anything away from Kansas City. They turned it around. Patrick Mahomes and that crew showed a ton of heart and character by finding a way to win when it would’ve been so much easier to just lay down, trailing by 24. Instead it was the Texans who stopped playing not the Chiefs. 

But as much as this is about what Kansas City did, it’s also about how Houston absolutely self-destructed. And that meltdown starts at the top. Is there anyone in the league you trust less with a 24-0 lead than Bill O’Brien? 

Don’t get me wrong. The guy knows a ton about football, but he’s one of the few guys wearing a headset that makes a 24-0 lead seem shaky. That it’s not like that call sheet should be going up on Romeo Crennel’s mantelpiece either. 

I know the Texans were banged up defensively and that KC is loaded, but you can’t get a stop. A single stop. At any point during that run of seven straight touchdowns. I mean, get the hell off the field!! Even once! Was that really too much to ask?!? Apparently it was. 

From scoreless in the first quarter to putting up 51 for the game. That is one hell of a swing by Kansas City’s offense and one hell of a tank job by Houston’s defense. It got so bad that the scoreboard in Arrowhead claimed that they had run out of fireworks to shoot off after touchdowns. 

Just don’t bring any of that around Bill. He seems to think that overall, things are actually pretty damn good. Quote:

“I feel like we are moving in the right direction.”

My man…, you just turned a blowout into your own beatdown. In a playoff game. That’s not heading in the right direction. In fact, that’s the opposite of heading in the right direction. I know you’re talking about the overall direction of the organization, but that was a soul-destroying loss. That’s the kind of thing that can destroy a team for years. The type of thing that stays with anyone who had anything to do with it, for the rest of their lives. It’s’ always there. It haunts you. Just ask the Falcons. Ask them what 28-3 means to them. You think they were saying we’re moving in the right direction after that?

The last time I saw a team implode like that in the playoffs, coaches were punching each other on the sideline. Now Kansas City is advancing and Houston is trying to figure out what the hell just happened to them. Or better yet, what the hell they just did to themselves. As I tweeted last night, Bill O’Brien the gm is going to have a long talk with Bill O’Brien the head coach when he gets back to Houston. The question then is, does the GM fire the coach. And if so, does the owner then fire the GM. Because that choke was just that bad. Credit K.C. for not laying down with a giant deficit. Just make sure you crack the Texans for laying donw with that giant lead: because that’s what they did.