Dee Ford reveals what Andy Reid said to help him move past devastating penalty that doomed Chiefs

If not for a few inches, the Chiefs would likely be preparing for a date with Rams in Super Bowl LIII (which you can stream right here) two Sundays from now. Because of a few inches, the Chiefs' season ended in absolute heartbreak and resulted in the firing of long-time defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.

It's been said quite often that football is a game of inches, so none of this is unique to the Chiefs. But what makes this particular instance especially painful is that the few inches that cost the Chiefs a spot in the Super Bowl were entirely avoidable.

With a minute to play in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, the Chiefs held a four-point lead over the Patriots, who faced a third-and-10 at the Chiefs' 34-yard line. Tom Brady dropped back to pass, spied Rob Gronkowski open at the line of scrimmage, and threw a pass toward him. The ball slipped through Gronk's hands and into the arms of Charvarius Ward, who picked off the pass and all but ended the game. 

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Except that, on the opposite side of the field, a flag was sitting on the grass. Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford was offside on the play. He'd lined up in the neutral zone. The Patriots got another chance. They took a three-point lead with a touchdown two plays later. The Chiefs kicked a field goal at the end of regulation, sending the game into overtime, where Brady led the Patriots on a walk-off series. 

At Pro Bowl practice Friday, Ford revealed how he's gone about processing what ended up being a heartbreaking defeat. In doing so, he shared what coach Andy Reid told him to help him get over his backbreaking blunder. 

"He told me, 'Don't think about it. We've gotta move forward. We all could have been four inches better, ya know?'" Ford said, per ESPN. "That was big. That was a big quote to say. 'We all could have been four inches better.'"

It might not have been four inches exactly, but it was close.

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"I've been through a lot worse things," Ford said. "I'm not trying to downplay that [offside penalty], but I've been through a lot worse things.

"That crushed my heart. But in order to persevere, you have to acknowledge it, take it on the chest and work to move forward. The only answer that will make anything better is winning the Super Bowl. So that's the focus."

It's worth noting that Ford's offsides penalty wasn't the only reason why the Chiefs lost. They had multiple opportunities to get the one stop they needed. Patrick Mahomes handed them two fourth-quarter leads, both of which they failed to protect. In overtime, they let Brady convert three third-and-10s on his way to the Chiefs' end zone. 

Ford certainly played a part -- a very memorable one -- in the Chiefs' demise. But it took a collective effort to give up 37 points, 36 first downs, and 524 yards of offense. Over the course of the season, the Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed, 24th in points allowed, and 26th in defensive DVOA. In their five losses, they allowed more than 40 points per game. Ford is the least of the Chiefs' problems on defense.

Ford is now entering a critical offseason. He's set to become a free agent after a 13-sack season. There's a good chance Ford will be franchise tagged, which means he'll likely be back in Kansas City next season, giving him an opportunity to right his wrong and help the Chiefs get over the hump.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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