By DAN RALPH
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Friday, January 12, 2018
Once again, Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif begins his NFL off-season earlier than anticipated.
The Kansas City Chiefs right guard was back in Montreal on Thursday, less than a week after the club's stunning playoff loss to Tennessee. The Titans rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit for a 22-21 AFC wild-card victory on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, their first playoff win in 14 years.
"That stings, for sure, it's hard to turn the page after that one," Duvernay-Tardif said via telephone. "We'd been playing really good football the last month.
"Not being able to close the deal and letting some opportunities go at the end was really unfortunate."
It was Kansas City's sixth straight home playoff loss and 11th defeat in 12 postseason games over all. After winning the AFC West with a 12-4 record in 2016 and earning a firstround bye, the Chiefs lost 18-16 to Pittsburgh with all of the Steelers' points coming via field goals.
A win over Tennessee would've earned the Chiefs a return trip to Foxborough, Mass., to face the Patriots. Kansas City beat New England 4227 on Sept. 7 at Gillette Stadium to open the season.
"I wasn't thinking ahead, but to myself I wished we could've played the Patriots one more time," Duvernay-Tardif said. "It won't happen this year, but we'll be ready for next season for sure."
With his football season over, Duvernay-Tardif, 26, will again turn his attention toward earning his medical degree. But instead of working in hospitals this winter, the 6-foot-5, 321pound native of Mont-SainteHilaire, Que., will spend his offseason studying for his board exam in either late April or early May.
"That gives me about three months to study, but it's a big challenge," Duvernay-Tardif said. "The normal curriculum for a doctor is five years before that exam and I've stretched it to eight because of football."
Duvernay-Tardif admits it will be a relief to finally earn his degree.
"Absolutely," he said. "It [earning his degree while playing football] is my ultimate personal goal.
"When I was drafted four years ago, that was my main focus, to be able to do both at the same time. I think I'd be the first to do it in the NFL so I'm pretty excited."
The 2017 season was a rollercoaster for both the Chiefs and Duvernay-Tardif. The team opened with five straight wins, then lost six of its next seven games before capping the regular season with four consecutive victories.
Duvernay-Tardif began the year at his customary position, but suffered a knee injury on Oct. 2 in a 29-20 win over Washington, missing four games. Fortunately, it was just a sprain and the 2014 sixth-round draft pick out of McGill returned to help Kansas City (10-6) capture a second straight divisional title.