Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes learned a valuable lesson in the second half of the AFC Championship Game loss to the Bengals: Sometimes when you play not to lose, that makes you lose.
Mahomes told Kevin Clark of TheRinger.com that after jumping out to a big early lead, the Chiefs became so focused on playing it safe that they stopped doing the things that had brought them to that point.
“The second half of that game: I don’t want to say we relaxed, but I mean when you lead like you did, you want to make sure you win the game, but you don’t want to play like you’re playing not to lose,” Mahomes said. “And I feel like that’s what we did. As a team, we were playing not to lose, we were playing just to get to the Super Bowl. If you look, they didn’t do much different from the first half to the second half. We just didn’t execute at a high enough level. They were playing the same coverages and we weren’t executing. Then momentum gets in the other team’s favor and when you’re playing a good football team, bad stuff happens.”
When Mahomes’ third touchdown pass gave the Chiefs a 21-3 lead in the second quarter, it didn’t look like they were going to need to do much more to get to the Super Bowl. After the Chiefs’ 27-24 loss, Mahomes now knows he can’t allow that mentality to take hold in the middle of a game.