Bengals lose heartbreaking AFC Championship Game to Chiefs after bad penalty

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals' season has come to an end in heartbreaking fashion as they fell 23-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Losing is one thing but losing when the referees made some really bad calls and screwed the Bengals over in the process.

Now look, let's be clear -- The Bengals had plenty of chances to win this game and the protection couldn't hold up. Joseph Ossai made a boneheaded decision to hit Patrick Mahomes when he was already out of bounds and well... The rest is history.

The game is in the books and sadly, the Bengals won't be able to win their first Super Bowl this year. Let's tackle what we learned in this one.

OL did not do their part

After straight-up dominating the Bills' defensive line last week, the Bengals' o-line got WORKED this week and it was made clear very early that they'd have their work cut out for them. Joe Burrow was sacked five times but I will say that three of those came in the first half so that's... something?

We couldn't have actually expected an o-line made up of Jackson Carman, Max Scharping, and Hakeem Adeniji to play that kind of game again but they looked so outmatched this week. Chris Jones feasted against this group.

The Bengals had a chance to win it

When taking a peak at Chiefs Twitter with two minutes left and Joe Burrow getting the ball back, all hell was breaking loss. That fan base thought for sure that a loss was coming because it was looking like the same kind of finale they had experienced in each of the last three losses to the Bengals.

Well, we all know what happened. Despite Burrow connecting with Hayden Hurst on 3rd-and-long, the team couldn't get a drive going and were forced to punt the ball back to KC hoping for overtime.

Getting the ball back with two minutes left should be a dream for a team with Joe Burrow as their quarterback but sometimes, the result you want isn't going to happen. This was one of those instances.

Officiating was bad

First thing's first -- The Chiefs deserved to win this game. I'm not going to sit here and say they only won because of the bad calls made during the game. They're a good team and they're going to the Super Bowl for a reason.

That being said, the officiating was noticeably bad in this game. First, there was that horrendous call that wiped out a KC incomplete pass and gifted them another shot at 3rd-and-long. After Patrick Mahomes was sacked on the make-up play, Eli Apple was called for holding and the Chiefs were given a fresh set of downs.

Fortunately, the Chiefs didn't get any points on that drive but they were essentially gifted a "fifth down". That cannot happen in a professional football game.

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Bengals fans have a right to be sad, as we all thought this was the team's chance to win a title. Unfortunately, they'll be watching the Super Bowl from home.