It would be nearly impossible to start a game in a worse way than the Chiefs did Sunday.
But impossible needs a new definition after what the Chiefs did to the Texans.
The Chiefs came back for a 51-31 win in the divisional round, overcoming an early deficit with 41 unanswered points. Totally normal.
The Chiefs will now host the sixth-seeded Titans in next week’s AFC Championship Game. The Titans were the last team to beat the Chiefs, taking a 35-32 decision in Week 10.
As long ago as that seems, there was a point Sunday when the Texans were blowing out the top remaining seed, taking advantage of multiple special teams mistakes by the Chiefs, including a blocked punt for a touchdown and a fumble on a punt return by Tyreek Hill.
As strange as it sounds when you type the words and read them back to yourself, the game turned when the Texans elected to settle for the field goal which gave them a 24-0 lead.
They were initially going to go for it, but after a timeout, Texans coach Bill O’Brien decided to play it safe. Then, for some reason, he didn’t.
Going for a fake punt in Chiefs territory on the next possession was a terrible idea, poorly executed. Safety Justin Reid took the direct snap, but ran straight into the arms of Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen and the rout was on. Which isn’t something you say when the score’s still 24-0 the other direction.
That was the snowflake that triggered the avalanche, as the Chiefs proceeded to score touchdowns on their next seven possessions, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes seemed disappointed to have to settle for a field goal on the eighth.
Mahomes finished the game with five touchdown passes, completing 23-of-35 passes for 321 yards.
Tight end Travis Kelce and running back Damien Williams scored three touchdowns each, with all three of Kelce’s coming during the furious second-quarter comeback which saw them take the lead before halftime.
During that run, he suffered a hamstring injury, and was initially ruled questionable to return.
He came back. It was a metaphor. Same with the Chiefs announcing late in the fourth quarter they were out of fireworks because they scored too often.
The stunning nature of the loss will create plenty of (reasonable) questions about the future of many people in Houston, specifically O’Brien and his staff after such an abrupt collapse.
But focusing on the Texans Sunday would be wrong. This wasn’t about one team giving something away. It was about another team taking it.