3 reasons why the Bengals lost the AFC Championship Game (officiating not included)

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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It's been hard to come to grips with the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals season has ended. There will be no Super Bowl parade in Cincinnati this year despite this very much feeling like the Bengals' year to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

While some fans might not be up to asking the question "Why did the Bengals lose?" that's what I'm here for. I will preface by saying that officiating is not included in these reasons because while yes, the officiating was lousy, it didn't lose the Bengals the game. They had their chances and failed to capitalize.

If you think you can handle it, let's go through three major reasons why the stripes fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. If you're not ready to talk about it yet, that's okay too. It'll take some time to get over this one and I understand that.

All stats courtesy of ESPN

3. Failure to contain Marquez Valdes-Scantling

If you had told me before the game that Marquez Valdes-Scantling would be the Chiefs weapon that torched the Bengals secondary, I'd have probably asked what you had been smoking. That's exactly what played out though.

The former Packer finished his second Chiefs playoff game with six catches for 116 yards and a crazy touchdown catch. Patrick Mahomes put that touchdown ball right on the money in a tight window to Valdes-Scantling and it ended up being a major difference-maker in the game.

Considering that the Chiefs were down JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney at the wide receiver position, it felt obvious that the ball was going to go to MVS yet the Bengals still couldn't stop the guy. He hadn't been much of a weapon for Kansas City this season but he torched Cincinnati when it mattered most.