Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke first. After an improbable 42-36 overtime victory Sunday against the Bills, Reid gathered the attention of his players, who were stationed in front of their lockers, and offered a sort of congratulatory message.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke last. As his teammates huddled in the middle of the room, putting their arms in the air, Mahomes offered a reminder, even if it momentarily dampened a celebration.
“The job ain’t finished,” Mahomes said. “The job ain’t finished. Make sure you come ready to go this next week.”
In the next quarter-hour, Mahomes would hop on a Zoom news conference call and classify Sunday’s victory as a game he will remember for the rest of his life.
It’s human nature to relish what the Chiefs accomplished Sunday, but they’re simply not allotted time to do it, as enticing as it might be. The Bengals await in the AFC Championship Game at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“You celebrate with your family and everything for that big win that we had — it was an awesome game that we’ll remember forever — but we’re not done,” Mahomes said. “We’re trying to go out there and win the AFC Championship and then try to get to the Super Bowl.”
So what’s the aftermath of one of the most memorable wins of your career? A meal that night. Film work the following morning. Exciting, right?
It started even earlier for the head coach. Reid exited the tunnel from Arrowhead Stadium after the game and immediately went to the team’s practice facility, half a mile away in the parking lot. This has become customary for him, particularly on weeks with tight turnarounds — after prime-time games or ahead of a Thursday game, for example.
But it felt it especially necessary this week.
“They had an extra day,” Reid pointed out.
The Bengals secured their spot in the AFC Championship Game more than 24 hours before the Chiefs, with their road win against the Tennessee Titans. They spent Sunday watching the Bills-Chiefs matchup and earning a head start in game prep.
Reid played catch-up overnight.
In fact, as he watched back through the memorable 13-second stretch in which the Chiefs drove down the field and tied the game in regulation, he didn’t even take a moment to appreciate it. Instead, he critiqued it.
Those dramatic 13 seconds continue to be a primary point of conversation in Kansas City — probably will be forever, for that matter — but Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs’ second-year running back, said he’s not even heard it mentioned in the practice facility this week.
And this is where experience comes into play. In their Super Bowl run just two years ago, the Chiefs had a pair of emotional wins in the playoffs — they trailed the Texans 24-0 before a comeback, yet had only a week to prepare for the AFC Championship Game. Another emotional win there, and another important game that followed.
This isn’t new.
Which made the response all the easier.
“They were all saying it after the game. They were all excited about that game, but they said (that) we’ve still got another game here that we have to get ready for,” Reid said. “Enjoy the moment, but we’ve gotta move on.
“It wasn’t just me saying that. It was Pat. They were all speaking that when they came in here. They know this thing moves fast. They were on to the next one pretty quick.”