Cornerback Eli Apple is an easy player to hate if you're not a Cincinnati Bengals fan, and after Sunday's loss, the target on his back grew exponentially bigger.
A week before the AFC Championship game, Apple was riding on the coattails of a dominant divisional round victory and took to Twitter to talk smack about the now-eliminated Buffalo Bills. He took shots at Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Stefon Diggs again, and even slipped in a controversial tweet aimed at Damar Hamlin that he ultimately apologized for.
After all that talk, and given his severed ties with several former NFL franchises, the league was ready to give Apple a taste of his own medicine if Cincy lost to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
The Bengals fell short, 23-20, and the Twitter storm began.
A few Chiefs players were spotted smoking victory cigars after being crowned kings of the AFC and wanted to share a very personal message to Apple:
The Twitter heat was so scorching that Apple's mother, Annie Apple, apparently deleted her account.
Bengals CB Eli Apple gets roasted on a stick after AFC Championship loss
Apple roasted a few Chiefs players last year when the Bengals won the AFC Championship, so it's only fitting that Kansas City returns the favor. Even Patrick Mahomes' wife got in on the action.
Looks like Apple is joining Diggs in Cancun this year after all.
Amid the electric hostility between two surging AFC rivals, it's hard to pin much blame on Apple for the Bengals' loss on Sunday night.
The corner did commit a blatant holding penalty on Chiefs' Marquez Valdez-Scantling that gave Kansas City a fresh set of downs, yet he was bailed out in the end by the Chiefs' limping offense.
He finished the game with six total tackles and one tackle for loss, and he played 100 percent of defensive snaps. Apple is set to become a free agent this offseason and could get some looks from corner-needy teams, but he seems to have developed into a key member of Cincy's defense in the past two years and could secure another short extension.
Had Apple made a positive game-changing play in the championship game, such as nabbing a pick or making a tough goal line stand, maybe Twitter would have taken it easier on him.
At the end of the day, though, Apple did this to himself. Next time he talks, he had better walk that walk too.