The Kansas City Chiefs headed into Sunday's AFC championship game with a chip on their shoulder, ready to prove a point. Despite making NFL history by hosting their fifth consecutive AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium -- and despite their 14-3 regular season record (the most regular season wins in the league), and despite the MVP season Patrick Mahomes has been mounting -- the Chiefs found themselves facing a litany of doubt, hate and disrespect. The loudest disrespect came from their opponents, the Cincinnati Bengals, who gloated about playing in "Burrowhead" all week -- a reference to quarterback Joe Burrow's mastery over the Chiefs -- pouring gasoline on an already-lit budding rivalry. And Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had some had some words for Cincy after the game: "Burrowhead, my ass."
Cincinnati Talks Trash
Immediately after their divisional win against the Bills, Bengals Mike Hilton, Eli Apple and Cam Taylor-Britt stirred the pot by exclaiming to the camera on the sideline, "We'll see ya'll at Burrowhead!" The last three meetings between the Chiefs and Bengals resulted in Cincy wins, and that created an ocean of arrogance in Ohio.
During the entire week leading up to the AFC championship game, Bengals players were calling Arrowhead -- the loudest and most hostile NFL stadium -- "Burrowhead." Chiefs Kingdom was not having it; and instead of commenting directly, Chiefs players parroted the Bengals' words and quietly stewed, waiting to unleash their emotions on the field Sunday.
Things escalated when Cincinnati's mayor joined the conversation, posting a bizarre video to his socials, also calling Arrowhead "Burrowhead" and suggesting Mahomes get a paternity test because Burrow is his daddy. The instigation by the city's mayor drew immediate attention on social media, and many Chiefs fans and players attempted to drag Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas into the pregame banter.
Chiefs Responded On The Field
Chiefs coach Andy Reid isn't a fan of engaging in trash talk. He clearly knows how powerful a motivator it can be. In fact, back when the Chiefs faced the Bengals in Week 13 of the regular season, Kansas City's Justin Reid was reminded by coach Reid to not engage after the safety shared some back-and-forth with the Bengals' offense. This time, the Chiefs were going to harness the ribbing and rousing to use it as fuel on the field.
And fuel it certainly was. The Chiefs came out strong, pressuring Burrow and hitting him with sack after sack. The Chiefs ended the game with six sacks and managed to hold the Bengals to 20 points; and as the regular season taught us, if you can hold the Bengals to 20 or less, you can beat them.
Kansas City managed to grind out a win Sunday night, despite missing their top three wide receivers in Juju Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney due to injuries during Sunday's game. In addition, Chiefs star defensive cornerback L'Jarius Sneed exited the game and did not return for the second half, forcing Kansas City to rely heavily on its first-years. Along with that, Kelce was questionable up until game time due to a back injury, and Mahomes' continuous limp showed us that his ankle was clearly less than 100%.
All of this is to say that somehow, despite a slew of hurdles -- hurdles that would halt many other teams -- the Kansas City Chiefs finally were able to defeat Burrow's Bengals and will advance to their third Super Bowl since Mahomes became starting quarterback five years ago. And postgame, it became clear just how personal the Chiefs' roster took all the "Burrowhead" rumblings and disrespect.
Chris Jones, who had a monster game with two sacks, meant business when asked about the Bengals' bashing, saying, "Don't you ever, ever, ever, and I'm going to look right into the camera when I say this, disrespect Arrowhead." And Jones wasn't the only Kansas City player eager to finally respond.
Travis Kelce Says What All Of Chiefs Kingdom Has Been Thinking: "Burrowhead, My Ass"
Mahomes, ever the humble leader, thanked God in his postgame on-field interview, and Kelce joined his quarterback to share his jubilation and drop a quick message to the Bengals and haters. The tight end interrupted Mahomes to say, "Burrowhead, my ass. This is Mahomes' house!"
KELCE ?@tkelce @Chiefs pic.twitter.com/5KBCIsEzmK
— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2023
As if that wasn't enough to send Chiefs Kingdom and NFL fans over the edge with laughter, Kelce had another message for Cincinnati during the Lamar Hunt trophy presentation -- this time for their mayor. Fans all over social have been eating up Kelce's loud rebuttals, and he's earned the right after the season and AFC championship performance he delivered.
Kansas City will rest easy for a week -- thankfully, because they've got a lot of injuries that will benefit from the extra rest -- and are able to say they responded to the trash talk by beating the Bengals in Arrowhead and advancing to face the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Kansas City has reminded the league all season that it is not to be underestimated and, if you do, underestimate at your own risk. I can't help but wonder if the Bengals and Cincinnati's mayor wish they'd kept their mouths shut and not given the Chiefs any additional ammunition for a win.
MORE: The 10 Best NFL Siblings of All Time Took Brotherly Love to the Gridiron
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.