We learned they are beatable, certainly. But people like Baltimore, Denver, Green Bay and Oakland -- teams that pushed Kansas City to the wire before falling -- knew that anyway. The Chiefs knew it, too. Overconfidence truly had little to do with their 24-19 initial loss of the season in Cincinnati.
"I don't think we ever thought we were invincible, and this proves we're not," said defensive end Eric Hicks. "Any team can win on a given Sunday in this league. That's a cliche', I know, but it's true.
"Now the Raiders will come in (to Arrowhead Stadium this week) and believe they can beat us, too, because we've shown ways to be defeated."
The Bengals found the ways to get that done, though they hardly developed a new blueprint on how to do so.
They established a solid ground game, with Rudi Johnson running for 162 of his team's 200 rushing yards. But Baltimore, Denver and Green Bay also did that against a KC defense that is giving up 4.9 yards per average run -- the next-to-worst figure in the league.
The Bengals also avoided turnovers against the league's best team in forcing takeaways. Kansas City, remember, jump-started its comeback from a 31-14 deficit in Green Bay with a Jerome Woods interception return. Only one other Chiefs opponent this year, Denver, played without losing the ball to Kansas City.
The Broncos lost in Kansas City, however, when Dante Hall broke a game-deciding 93-yard punt return touchdown, just as he'd produced the game-winning points with a 97-yard kickoff return the week before in Baltimore. But the Bengals kept Hall in relative check, though he opened with nice punt returns of 26 and 28 yards in the first quarter.
But Cincinnati's defense kept Kansas City from taking advantage of some prime field position -- six KC first-half drives started on average at the Chiefs 45 -- by limiting Kansas City's running game to a season-low 67 yards. It also blitzed and kept Trent Green off balance during the first half when he threw for only 74 yards -- 43 of those coming in the final-minute drive for a game-tying field goal.
Cincinnati also hit two big plays against the Chiefs, something Kansas City has given up sparingly this year. Peter Warrick's Dante Hall-like 68-yard punt return gave Cincy a 17-6 lead. Then, after KC responded with Green hitting five straight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown to close to 17-12, Warrick got behind Eric Warfield for a 77-yard TD bomb. It was the kind of play Warfield gave up routinely as recently as a year ago, but had been effective in limiting this year.
"They did exactly what we've been doing," Vermeil said of the Bengals. "When we've been down, someone steps up and makes a big play, which they did today."
So no, it was no big secret when Marvin Lewis told his Bengals they could beat the Chiefs by blitzing Green, limiting Holmes, keeping Hall in check and -- most important -- avoiding turnovers.
That the 5-5 Bengals were the first team to do all those things in one game is the reason they're leading the AFC North today. It's also why the Chiefs' lead over Tennessee, Indianapolis and New England in the race for AFC home-field advantage has been reduced to one game.
"A lot of people said we needed a loss, but we didn't," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday. "We remember what it's like to lose. Maybe we've a little more hungry today (Monday), but most guys are generally peeved."