Chiefs add saddest chapter yet to already dismal playoff history

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs filed wordlessly into their locker room on Saturday evening, where they were left to contemplate yet another painful playoff defeat.

The events of the previous 30 minutes of football fit seamlessly into their dismal playoff history. They had wasted another big lead, this one 18 points at halftime, and lost to the Tennessee Titans 22-21 at Arrowhead Stadium in the wild-card round.

"I've been playing this game for a long time and 21-3 at halftime, you win," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We didn't.

"I've been through some tough ones but this is one of the tougher ones."

Johnson was with the Chiefs when they led by 28 points to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs four years ago. They lost then. He was with the Chiefs last season, though injured, when they fell by two points to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the postseason.

The sting this time was the worst. The Colts game was in the Chiefs' first season under coach Andy Reid and on the road. The Chiefs were never in command against the Steelers as they were on Saturday.

This one was at Arrowhead and with a team seemingly built to go deep in the playoffs. But the Chiefs again have nothing to show for their postseason.

"I felt like the opportunity we had in front of us, the talent we had ... when we play the way we're capable of playing, the sky is the limit," said quarterback Alex Smith, who may have played his final game for the Chiefs. "Tonight was a good example of that. Just not consistent enough, didn't come out in the second half and make the plays we needed to."

Asked whether the 2017 Chiefs underachieved, Smith said, "For sure. A missed opportunity."

The Chiefs are 1-11 in their past 12 playoff games. They've lost six straight in the postseason at Arrowhead, four by four points or less.

The Chiefs charged to a 21-3 lead at halftime with Smith, who went 19-of-23 for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the way.

The second half was far different after the Chiefs lost tight end Travis Kelce. He left late in the first half because of a concussion and didn't return.

Kansas City had fewer than 100 yards in the second half. The Titans, meanwhile, scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions of the second half and took the lead midway through the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs drove past midfield on their final possession with more than two minutes remaining but Smith's fourth-down pass for Albert Wilson was incomplete.

Kansas City won't have a shortage of near misses to look back on. The Chiefs twice made Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota fumble and recovered, but each time the play was blown dead and they weren't allowed to benefit from a video review. One resulted in a Titans field goal. The other cost the Chiefs two points because it happened on a two-point conversion.

The Chiefs also lost a would-be touchdown on a fumble return by Johnson late in the game when Tennessee running back Derrick Henry was ruled down after a video review. The Chiefs' normally reliable kicker, Harrison Butker, missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Any of those plays could have won the game for the Chiefs, had they turned out differently. Instead, they are more bitter January fodder for the Chiefs to try to digest.