Roars of elation collapsed in pain, once again, for Chiefs fans Sunday night.
Stunned fans tried to take stock of such a hard-fought, but brutal loss, comforted only in that they came away with the strong conviction that this team and its gun-slinging quarterback, will be back.
The wild game tortured fans, leaving them floored, losing to the NFL’s most brutish heavyweights, the New England Patriots in overtime.
But it wasn’t the same, empty, better-luck-next-year lament this time.
“I’m disappointed but very, very optimistic,” said Alex Wreath with fans at Kansas City’s Power and Light District downtown. “I am looking forward to (quarterback) Patrick Mahomes leading the way next year.”
He was not alone.
“(I’m) truly devastated by this gut wrenching loss,” tweeted Chiefs fan Roger Slead. “But I am proud of this KC Chiefs team and of this beautiful city. This will make our appearance in the Super Bowl next year that much more special on the 50th anniversary of SB IV” — the last and only Chiefs Super Bowl title.
Fans ached through the first half, watching those Patriots and that quarterback doing what they’ve done over and over for the last 17 years, only this time in Arrowhead.
A suffocating 14-to-0 deficit plagued anxious watch parties with visions of Tom Brady waltzing away, easily Super Bowl-bound for the ninth time and Chiefs fans bereft 49 years and counting.
Hope burst back in the second half with the Boy Wonder quarterback — Patrick Mahomes — slinging it long on third-and-short, sidearmed here, sidearmed there, Travis Kelce scoring, Damien Williams scoring, a fourth-down defensive stuff.
Then, after the fourth quarter not-tipped punt doesn’t go the Chiefs’ way, the tipped pass interception does.
From then on it was all hearts in throats to the end.
In the end, fans with hands cupped in prayer, breathlessly wished for a defensive stand that did not happen.
“The game was an emotional roller coaster,” Zeke Rodriguez of Kansas City said in the Power and Light District. Just minutes earlier Rodriguez was waving a giant Chiefs flag and dancing in the middle of about a hundred fans. In the end, he hung his head folding his flag away for next year. Call him “sad,” but “optimistic.”
It was hard watching Brady win again, said Bryce Taylor of Overland Park. “Brady is really good,” he said, “but Patrick Mahomes is one of the best.”