Despite taking care of business on Sunday by beating the San Diego Chargers, 19-7, the Kansas City Chiefs' season is over after wins by the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans pushed them out of the playoffs.
"I was proud of the guys and the way they played," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "They came out with a lot of fire today."
It was a long shot for the Chiefs to make the playoffs before Sunday's games started. They needed two road underdogs, the Browns and Jaguars, to win and then obviously needed to win themselves.
The one thing the Chiefs could control was beating the Chargers, who would have been in the playoffs with a win, and the Chiefs took care of business thanks in large part to the unbelievable performance by the defense led by Justin Houston.
Coming into Sunday's game, Houston needed just three sacks to pass former Chiefs great Derrick Thomas' franchise record of 20 sacks during the 1990 season.
With four sacks against the Chargers, Houston finished the season with 22, which is the best in Chiefs history and the second best in NFL history.
After the game, Houston wasn't overjoyed about his individual accomplishment.
"I would trade this for a spot in the playoffs," Houston said in the locker room after the game. "It hurts. You spend your whole season working."
"Individual goals, I think that's something you look at when you're done playing football," Houston said. "Every year, your goal is to win the championship and we fell short. It hasn't hit me yet. Maybe it will hit me in couple days or a few weeks. I'm just disappointed right now."
The Chiefs defense finished the season as the only team in the NFL that didn't allow 30 points in a game, a 300-yard passer or a 50-yard completion this season.
It was truly an elite defense, and veteran linebacker Joe Mays spoke about their performance on Sunday, holding Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to just 20 of 34 for 291 yards and zero touchdowns with two interceptions.
"It's all about us coming together," Mays said. "We all came together and played how we were supposed to play, executed the game plan and we were able to get to them a little bit. I think with the pressure we applied to them, we forced them to make a couple throws they didn't want to make and also, take a couple sacks.
"I think the game plan we had was great and we went out there and executed the way we were supposed to."
Having maybe the best season in his career, veteran cornerback Sean Smith spoke after the game of the Chiefs' 2014 season.
"So many ups and downs," Smith said of the season. "It was a roller coaster. Things were going bad, it went up for a second then came back down, but this team definitely fought all the way to the end. It just didn't go in our favor."
Maybe the biggest storyline coming into Sunday's game was the guy under center for the Chiefs, veteran backup Chase Daniel, who made just the second start of his six-year career against the Chargers.
Daniel learned he'd be replacing the Chiefs normal starting quarterback Alex Smith on Thursday, when it was revealed that Smith had a lacerated spleen that would keep him out of the game.
"I thought Chase (Daniel), with one day of practice, my hat goes off to him," Reid said. "That's a tough thing to do at the top level of football that you can play."
Daniel started hot for the Chiefs, completing his first nine passes and helping the Chiefs get out to the early 10-0 lead.
Although things slowed down for the Chiefs offense in the second half, Daniel finished the game 16 of 27 for 157 yards and didn't turn the ball over once.
Photos from the Chiefs Week 17 matchup against the Chargers
"I thought we started the game pretty well," Daniel said after the game. "I thought we moved the ball and I loved our first 15 that we scripted. We scored on three out of the four drives in the first half so I think that momentum was great going into halftime."
Reid spoke of Daniel after the game.
"Nobody is more professional than Chase," Reid said. "Nobody loves to play more than Chase. He and Alex [Smith] have this phenomenal relationship. He goes about it like he's going to start every week. He knows the protections, he knows all the adjustments.
"We didn't take a bit of the game plan out, kept everything in and we just rolled. He handled it and did very well with it."
The Chiefs finish the season at 9-7, and it marks just the third time in the last 20 years that the Chiefs had back-to-back winning seasons.
The 20 wins over the last two seasons for Reid is also the best start for any coach in Chiefs franchise history, including Hank Stram or Marty Schottenheimer.