The Bengals, after going 6-25-1 the past two seasons and ending up at the bottom of the AFC North last season, after Burrow tore the knee ligament in Week 11, seized on his relentless nonchalance to tumble through the conference. Afterwards, he said he was more surprised that one of his favorite rappers, Kid Cudi, had contacted him – and that LeBron James, another native of Ohio, had congratulated him in a Twitter post – than at Sunday’s outcome.
“That part is surreal,” Burrow said. “The football part, not so much.”
Burrow spoke about an hour after giving Mahomes his first playoff loss to a team quarterbacked by someone other than Tom Brady. He wore completely black and, oh yes, that pendant.
“They’re definitely right,” Burrow said, smiling about the gems that spelled JB9 on his chest. “I make too much money to have fakes, so they’re right.”
And the same was all else that happened in 3 hours and 14 minutes of unadulterated chaos. Kansas City’s three touchdowns in three drives to start the game. The deft tapping of defensive tackle BJ Hill that placed the Bengals to equalize late in the third quarter, Burrows 2-yard, back-shoulder pass to his former Louisiana State teammate Ja’Marr Chase. Crowds of Cincinnati fans, wearing Bengal-striped shawls and jerseys of heroes of the past and present, gathered in the bottom bowl to watch the presentation of the AFC Championship trophy, named after Lamar Hunt, the founder and original owner of Kansas City franchise.
After an uneven start to the season, Kansas City had dropped only one game since Halloween – a 34-31 defeat to the Bengals in Cincinnati on January 2 – and the precedent suggested that Sunday would yield the opposite result. Over the past three years, it had won all five rematch against teams it lost to earlier in the season, while scoring more than 39 points per game. match.
The most recent payback took place at the same venue last week when Kansas City started an absurd comeback – a three-play, 44-yard, 13-second field goal drive – to tie Buffalo at the end of the regulation before winning division round match in overtime.