HOUSTON -- For most of 22 years, the Kansas City Chiefs were in a playoff trap. The harder they worked to get out, the less success they seemed to have.
The Chiefs lost playoff games in every conceivable manner during their eight-game postseason losing streak. They lost heartbreakers, blowouts and everything in between.
The Chiefs shed themselves of this heavy burden in a big way Saturday when they finally busted through. They needed no comeback or late-game heroics to get the job done. They took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish 11 seconds into the game when Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown.
For a time, there was some doubt about the outcome, which had to be troubling to the Chiefs given their recent postseason history. Despite the Davis touchdown and four first-half Houston turnovers, the Chiefs led 13-0 at halftime.
The Chiefs ended the suspense and buried some demons by scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and another on the first play of the fourth.
They will move on to the divisional round next weekend against either New England or Denver. When they do, the Chiefs will be free of a burden that lasted 22 years.
Game ball: The defense registered the NFL’s first playoff shutout since Carolina beat the Giants in 2005. The Chiefs forced five turnovers, the biggest coming on Josh Mauga's interception at the Kansas City 2-yard line late in the second quarter.
Next up: The Chiefs will play in the divisional round of the playoffs either Saturday at New England or Sunday at Denver. Their destination and opponent depends on the results of Saturday night’s game between the Steelers and Bengals. If Pittsburgh wins, Kansas City will play Saturday at New England. If Cincinnati wins, the Chiefs will play at Denver on Sunday.
Chiefs in the divisional round: The Chiefs haven’t been this deep in the playoffs since 2003, when they won the AFC West and had a first-round bye in the playoffs. They lost that year to Indianapolis at Arrowhead Stadium in the postseason. The Chiefs played in the first round in each of their four subsequent trips to the playoffs.