Red Zone

Chiefs a team of constant playoff sorrow since Super Bowl IV

Lin Elliott’s three missed field goals in a 1996 playoff loss to the Colts are just a part of the Chiefs’ postseason misery.
Lin Elliott’s three missed field goals in a 1996 playoff loss to the Colts are just a part of the Chiefs’ postseason misery.

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.

Relive the Chiefs' franchise-record 10-game winning streak that rescued the team from a 1-5 start and put them in the playoffs, which start Saturday in Houston with a 3:30 p.m. Central time kickoff against the Texans (ABC, ESPN).

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

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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.

The Chiefs' last playoff victory occurred Jan. 16, 1994, against a team that no longer exists in a stadium no longer used for pro football games. Star sports columnist Sam Mellinger re-watched the 22-year-old broadcast and described the win agains

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.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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