There’s no use in ranking the Chiefs’ playoff heartbreak. Every loss carries its own measure of grief, and riding an NFL-record eight-game postseason losing streak amassed over more than two decades, the Chiefs have been a team of constant playoff sorrow since the AFL-NFL merger.
Before the 1970 merger, the Chiefs were perhaps the young league’s most successful franchise. Two Super Bowl appearances with a triumph in Super Bowl IV, and an additional AFL title as the Dallas Texans in 1962, gave the organization a 5-2 playoff record.
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Here’s the entire Chiefs playoff history, through good times and mostly bad — with comment and starting quarterbacks — as the quest for a postseason pivot in fortune presents itself Saturday in Houston.
Dec. 23, 1962: AFL championship game
Result: Texans 20, at Houston Oilers 17, 2 OT
Quarterback matchup: Chiefs’ Len Dawson vs. George Blanda
Comment: Last Dallas Texans game, longest championship game (77:54) in pro football history.
Jan. 1, 1967: AFL championship game
Result: Chiefs 31, at Buffalo Bills 7
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Jack Kemp
Comment: Chiefs nearly flawless in their biggest postseason blowout.
Jan. 15, 1967: Super Bowl I, at Los Angeles
Result: Green Bay Packers 35, Chiefs 10
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Bart Starr
Comment: Super first half for Chiefs, bowled over in the second.
Dec. 22, 1968, AFL divisional round
Result: At Oakland Raiders 41, Chiefs 6
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Daryle Lamonica
Comment: Raiders would get their Super Bowl drubbing two weeks later.
Dec. 20, 1969, AFL divisional round
Result: Chiefs 13, at New York Jets 6
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Joe Namath
Comment: No Super Bowl repeat for Broadway Joe.
Jan. 4, 1970, AFL championship game
Result: Chiefs 17, at Oakland Raiders 7
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Lamonica
Comment: Raiders came to stadium packed for quick Super Bowl getaway. This was the final AFL game
Jan. 11, 1970, Super Bowl IV in New Orleans
Result: Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Joe Kapp
Comment: Greatest moment in Kansas City football history. This dynasty seemed to have a few years remaining.
Dec. 25, 1971, AFC divisional round
Result: Miami Dolphins 27, at Chiefs 24, 2 OT
QB matchup: Dawson vs. Bob Griese
Comment: Some losses may hurt more than this one, but none had a more detrimental impact than the Christmas Day marathon. The longest game in NFL history, and the first playoff game played in Kansas City (also the last Chiefs game at Municipal Stadium), marked the end of the greatest Chiefs’ era, and the franchise would flounder for nearly two decades.
Dec. 28, 1986, AFC wild-card round
Result: At New York Jets 35, Chiefs 15
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Todd Blackledge vs. Pat Ryan
Comment: Chiefs were a no-show for first playoff game in 15 years.
Jan. 5, 1991, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Miami Dolphins 17, Chiefs 16
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Steve DeBerg vs. Dan Marino
Comment: Chiefs squandered a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead. Nick Lowery was short on a 52-yard field-goal try late.
Dec. 28, 1991, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Chiefs 10, Los Angeles Raiders 6
QB matchup: DeBerg vs. Todd Marinovich
Comment: First Arrowhead playoff game, and first playoff win since Super Bowl, shaped by four Chiefs’ interceptions.
Jan. 5, 1992, AFC divisional round
Result: At Buffalo Bills 37, Chiefs 14
QB matchup: DeBerg vs. Jim Kelly
Comment: Chiefs were never part of this one.
Jan. 2, 1993, AFC wild-card round
Result: At San Diego Chargers 17, Chiefs 0
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Dave Krieg vs. Stan Humphries
Comment: Chiefs had beaten Chargers twice during regular season.
Jan. 8, 1994, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Chiefs 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24, OT
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Joe Montana vs. Neil O’Donnell
Comment: Keith Cash’s blocked punt and Joe Montana’s fourth-down TD pass forced overtime.
Jan. 16, 1994, AFC divisional round
Result: Chiefs 28 at Houston Oilers 20
QB matchup: Montana vs. Warren Moon
Comment: If a team could match Chiefs’ playoff heartache, it was the Houston Oilers. Since Super Bowl IV, this is the Chiefs’ postseason pinnacle.
Jan. 23, 1994, AFC championship game
Result: At Buffalo Bills 30, Chiefs 13
QB matchup: Montana vs. Kelly
Comment: Chiefs’ chances ended when Montana’s head slammed on the turf early in the third quarter.
Dec. 31, 1994, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Miami Dolphins 27, Chiefs 17
QB matchup: Montana vs. Marino
Comment: Chiefs shut out in second half of Hall of Fame quarterback battle. This was Montana’s final game.
Jan. 7, 1996, AFC divisional round
Result: Indianapolis Colts 10, at Chiefs 7
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Steve Bono vs. Jim Harbaugh
Comment: For all the kicking follies in Chiefs’ playoff history, this was the worst. Lin Elliott missed his third straight field goal with less than a minute remaining, sealing the outcome. But the Chiefs also committed four turnovers, including three interceptions by Bono.
Jan. 4, 1998, AFC divisional round
Result: Denver Broncos 14, at Chiefs 10
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Elvis Grbac vs. John Elway
Comment: The 13-3 Chiefs and 12-4 Broncos had the best records in the AFC. But Denver had John Elway.
Jan. 11, 2003, AFC divisional round
Result: Indianapolis Colts 38, at Chiefs 31
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Trent Green vs. Peyton Manning
Comment: The no-punt game. Neither side punted, and a Priest Holmes fumble in the third quarter proved pivotal. The Chiefs played from behind the entire game.
Jan. 6, 2007, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Indianapolis Colts 23, Chiefs 8
QB matchup: Green vs. Manning
Comment: It took the Chiefs nearly 41 minutes to pick up a first down, and they finished with 126 total yards.
Jan. 9, 2011, AFC wild-card round
Result: Baltimore Ravens 30, at Chiefs 7
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Matt Cassel vs. Joe Flacco
Comment: All Ravens after Jamaal Charles’ 41-yard touchdown run.
Jan. 4, 2014, AFC wild-card round
Result: At Indianapolis Colts 45, Chiefs 44
QB matchup: Chiefs’ Alex Smith vs. Andrew Luck
Comment: A 38-10 lead in the third quarter is supposed to be safe, right? Not for the Chiefs.