Cincinnati Alum Travis Kelce Admits Loss to the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game Still Stings: ‘Trying to Enjoy Rooting for Them’

The Kansas City Chiefs appeared poised to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, a second-half collapse against the Cincinnati Bengals spoiled the party for Travis Kelce and company.

Kelce, who played college football at the University of Cincinnati, has strong ties to the community. Even though the Chiefs star is admittedly rooting for the Bengals to win the 2022 Super Bowl, he can’t help but think he should be playing against the Los Angeles Rams in the big game.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce revisits the AFC Championship Game loss

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce looks on during game against the Bengals
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts during AFC Championship Game loss to the Cincinnati Bengals | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs were in complete control of the 2021 AFC Championship Game. Andy Reid’s squad led the Cincinnati Bengals 21-3 until a late Joe Burrow touchdown to Samaje Perine narrowed the gap before halftime.

The second half was an entirely different ball game, as the momentum shifted in the road team’s favor. The Bengals took advantage of the Chiefs coming out flat, turning the tide completely. The game went to overtime, and it was safe to assume we’d get more magic from Patrick Mahomes. Instead, an Evan McPherson game-winning field goal stunned the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.

Travis Kelce still hasn’t gotten over the loss and admits it will stick with him for a long time. In a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, the Pro Bowl tight end opened up on the disappointing loss to the Bengals.

“Hats off to the Bengals for how they persevered through the entire playoffs,” said Kelce. “Finding ways to win in the second half. But the way we lost, I really feel like we gave it to them. That’s my personal opinion, man. That one hurt.”

The former Cincinnati Bearcat is struggling with rooting for the Bengals in the Super Bowl

Travis Kelce feels the Chiefs should be playing in the 2022 Super Bowl instead of the Bengals. However, he must face the harsh reality that they’re not. It’s hard to move on when your entire hometown is talking about it, though.

Kelce is from Westlake, Ohio, and played college football for the Cincinnati Bearcats. The roots run deep, and the three-time All-Pro selection has plenty of friends and family in the area rooting for the Bengals.

However, Kelce admits that rooting for the team that knocked him and the Chiefs out of the NFL playoffs isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do.

“That’s probably the hardest thing,” Kelce said. “Talking to all my friends and family, my teammates from Cincinnati, all the people that I still keep in contact with. I’m trying to enjoy rooting for them, but it’s tough.”

The Bengals have never won a Super Bowl in franchise history, and they haven’t been to the big game since 1989. Travis Kelce understands how much this accomplishment means to the city of Cincinnati. Still, the Chiefs tight end is itching to get back to the mountaintop.

How Kansas City can get back to the big game in 2022

The 2021 season was a roller coaster ride for the Kansas City Chiefs. Making the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl seemed like a long shot in the first half of the season.

The Chiefs struggled on both sides of the ball early in the season, posting a 3-4 record through the first seven games. The defense was one of the worst units in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes and the offense were out of sync and trying to do too much.

Kansas City was a completely different team in the second half of the year. Travis Kelce and company reeled off an impressive run, winning nine of their last 10 games. If the Chiefs play that brand of football in 2022, they could get back to the Super Bowl.

With Mahomes, Kelce, and Tyreek Hill on offense, this team can score with anyone. The defense played much better down the stretch, but adding more talent on that side of the ball should still be a priority.

Taking their foot off the gas ultimately doomed the Chiefs against the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. That was uncharacteristic for a team that won the AFC back-to-back seasons. Even though the 2021 season ended in disappointment, the Chiefs aren’t going anywhere.

As Travis Kelce suggested, the crushing loss will serve as motivation to come back stronger in 2022.

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