A couple of Chiefs players might look forward to this year’s postseason more than other guys in the locker room because of the way last year’s playoffs ended for them.
The Chiefs’ home loss to the Tennessee Titans was devastating for anyone associated with the team. But for tight end Travis Kelce and defensive end Chris Jones, the loss brought the additional pain of knowing they couldn’t do anything to help as the Chiefs’ second-half lead slipped away.
Both players suffered game-ending injuries, and their presence down the stretch was greatly missed.
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The Chiefs, leading 21-3 at halftime, lost 22-21.
Kelce doesn’t want to talk about it, but that was a painful defeat.
“I’ve moved on from last year,” Kelce said. “We have a new team, a new identity, and we’re looking forward for sure.”
Kelce and Jones figure to be important pieces for the Chiefs against the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday’s AFC divisional-round game. Kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium is 3:35 p.m. on NBC.
Both players have had outstanding seasons this year — Kelce with a team-record 103 receptions and Jones with a sack in 11 consecutive games, an NFL record.
Both men want to finish what they couldn’t last year.
“It still haunts me,” said Jones, who did talk about it, at least a little. “I felt like I let my team down by getting hurt. I thought about that all summer.”
That playoff game against Tennessee flipped after Kelce and Jones departed. At halftime, the Chiefs led in total yards: 264 to 127. Kelce had four receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Titans running back Derrick Henry had been held to 42 yards on 10 carries. The Chiefs held an advantage in time of possession: 16:36 to 13:24.
In the second half, with Jones watching from the sideline, the Titans outgained the Chiefs 270 yards to 61 and controlled the ball for 19:04 to the Chiefs’ 10:56. Henry rushed 114 yards.
Minus Kelce, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had lost a favorite target. And Kansas City collected just four first downs and 61 yards after the break.
Then-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, now with the Bears, told reporters before the season that he made the second-half play calls in the game.
“I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy said. “There are scenarios where I wish I would’ve made some different calls. For me, that’s a failure in my book.”
It was an epic meltdown that added to a long list of Chiefs postseason misfortunes. The franchise has lost six straight home playoff games. The Chiefs have won just two home playoff games in their history.
Saturday’s opponents, the Colts, have won as many playoff games in Kansas City as the Chiefs have.
All Kelce thinks about now, though, is what’s ahead — not what happened.
“The way the city’s going, you can feel the energy in the air,” Kelce said. “We’ll give the city everything we’ve got on Saturday.”
The final injury report of the week listed Chiefs rookie linebacker Dorian O’Daniel (calf/ankle) as doubtful and safety Eric Berry (heel), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) and running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) as questionable.
The Colts list safety Malik Hooker and defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis as questionable and defensive lineman Denico Autry as doubtful and wide receiver Ryan Grant out. Safety Mike Mitchell was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after suffering a calf injury against the Texans last week.