SEATTLE (AP) — For the second straight week, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs faltered in their attempt to send the entire AFC playoffs through Arrowhead Stadium.
Rather than a relaxing Week 17 with a chance to rest players headed into the postseason, the Chiefs must avoid one more stumble that could cost them a division title and homefield advantage.
"It's frustrating knowing that we've had it so close both times. Luckily we are still in the position where we will have the opportunity to go out there and win it next week," Mahomes said. "It is frustrating losing these games with the opportunity to win the AFC West and get the number one seed."
Kansas City's 38-31 loss to Seattle on Sunday night prevented the Chiefs from wrapping up the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the second straight week. Additionally, the loss exposed the biggest concern of the Chiefs headed into the postseason: a defense that was unable to get stops in important situations.
Seattle had a season-high 464 total yards, including 210 rushing. The Seahawks were 7 of 14 on third downs and Russell Wilson was the equal to Mahomes, throwing for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
A week after blowing a fourth-quarter lead and losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs were stuck playing from behind most of the night against Seattle and couldn't overtake the Seahawks.
"We all just have to get better. All phases of the game, we have to get better," Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones said. "We're gonna find a way, we're gonna find a way to get better. We still control our own destiny; we're gonna finish this last game strong."
Offensively the Chiefs did enough and 31 points should have been plenty against Seattle. Mahomes had a few of his own magical moments that will enhance his MVP candidacy. But the Chiefs committed two key turnovers in the first half, one leading to points for Seattle and the other potentially costing the Chiefs a chance at points late in the first half.
Mahomes was 23 of 40 for 273 and three TDs. Mahomes had only 83 yards passing in the first half. He had 76 yards and was 6 of 6 on Kansas City's first possession of the second half, finishing the drive with a scrambling, sidearm fling to Charcandrick West for a 25-yard touchdown that pulled the Chiefs even at 17-all midway through the third quarter.
That was the last time the teams would be even, despite Mahomes' efforts. He threw an 11-yard TD pass to Demarcus Robinson with 4:36 left, but the Chiefs were unable to get a stop on Seattle's next possession, watching Wilson complete key passes to David Moore, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin, leading to Chris Carson's second TD run with 2:29 left.
Harrison Butker's 32-yard field goal with 1:20 left pulled the Chiefs within seven, but an onside kick went out of bounds and Seattle ran out the clock.
"I want to win every game. That's what we want to do. But I'm also in a position where we got to fix the problems, learn from them. We are teachers here so we are going to go back and learn from our mistakes and get ourselves better," Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. "In this league, it's that close of a margin between winning and losing. So we just got to straighten a couple things out, and we will be OK. It seems extreme right now, but that's not the reality of it. We fix a couple things and we will be all right."
The Chiefs played without two key starters in the secondary as Kendall Fuller and Ron Parker were inactive. Seattle took advantage of the young defensive backs thrown in their place with Baldwin having his best game of the season with seven catches for 126 yards and the Seahawks also drawing a number of key penalties that kept drives going.
Reid said he wanted to see how some of those younger players responded to the opportunity of facing a quarterback like Wilson and an offense as diverse as Seattle's. But the decision may have helped put Kansas City in the position of facing an uncomfortable Week 17, even if it comes against lowly Oakland.
"I think we will be fine if we just take care of our business there," Reid said.