The Kansas City Chiefs had lost Patrick Mahomes to a blackout and were at risk for losing the game.
At that point their defense and Chad Henne — their defense and Chad Henne?! — alongside a gutsy call by Andy Reid kept their expectations of a Super Bowl rehash alive, holding off the Cleveland Browns 22-17 on Sunday to progress to their third consecutive AFC title game.
With their star quarterback decreased to an onlooker, the frequently failed to remember bundle inverse Mahomes’ powerful offense constrained the Browns to punt in the fading minutes. At that point, his 35-year-old reinforcement demonstrated some moxie with a 13-yard third-down scramble and nervy fourth-down finishing to Tyreek Hill — when pull out all the stops Reid chose to take the plunge — that gave the Chiefs (15-2) a first down with a little more than brief left and permitted them to run out the clock.
“That’s why we love Big Red. He’s always on time,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “He’s like our spirit warrior out here behind the scenes. He’s always trying stuff. We always knew he has one play on the table.”
Or then again, as Mahomes composed on Twitter after the success: “#HenneThingIsPossible.”
“We go through all those Saturday night with the quarterbacks, those situations: ‘Fourth-and-1 to win the game, what do you want?’” said Reid, who never once thought about punting on fourth down. “My coaches were on board, they all did a great job with the spot, with the calls, everything — they were spot-on. It was a great job.”
Mahomes hadn’t played in 21 days, since the Chiefs secured the AFC’s favorite in Week 16, yet he barely thought twice prior to leaving halfway through the second from last quarter. He completed 21 of 30 for 255 yards and a TD, and ran for another score.
Harrison Butker added three field objectives for the Chiefs, who almost blew a 19-3 lead yet made due to turn into the primary AFC group to have three continuous meeting title games. They’ll confront the Buffalo Bills next Sunday.
“It stings,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We came here to win and didn’t get the job done. There is a finality to that.”
Dough puncher Mayfield tossed for 204 yards with a score and a pick for the Browns (12-6), who were falling off their first season finisher win since the 1994 season. Yet, their failure to drive for the triumphant score — they punted with 4:23 left in the game — and guarded disappointment shielded them from dominating two season finisher matches in a season unexpectedly since 1950.
“It came down to us on defense and we let it slip,” Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett said. “We had two opportunities. We didn’t make it happen. It was right in front of us and we just — this time we didn’t get it done.”
Mahomes finished 11 of his initial 12 passes and drove the Chiefs to consecutive scores to begin the game. He ran for the first and let Travis Kelce transform a dump-off into a 20-yard get for the other, making him the main player since the 49ers’ Steve Young in 1995 with three straight season finisher games with TDs on the ground and through the air.
Indeed, Mahomes was so sharp passing in the principal a large portion of that he even finished a celebratory hurl to a fortunate fan in the most distant scopes of Arrowhead Stadium’s upper deck following his score hike.
After the groups traded field objectives, with Butker breaking the Chiefs season finisher record with a 50-yarder into the breeze, the Browns walked for what might have been an energy swinging score heading into halftime. In any case, exactly when Rashard Higgins attempted to extend over the objective line, the Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen showed up to convey a hit, popping the ball into the end zone for a touchback — the call remained after a video survey.
The whole appearance of the game changed from the get-go in the second from last quarter, however.
To start with, the Browns held the Chiefs when Mayfield tossed a block attempt and Butker missed a field objective. At that point, Mayfield drove them energetically the alternate way, covering a 77-yard drive with a TD toss to Jarvis Landry. Lastly, approximately 17,000 fans permitted in the arena because of pandemic were left sitting in shocked quiet when Mahomes was handled around the head with 7:27 left in the quarter and left folded on the turf close to midfield.
Mahomes, as of now tottered by a foot injury, staggered as he attempted to get to his feet. He was ultimately served to the blue tent on the sideline, at that point raced to the storage space, where he was assessed for a blackout.
“It kind of knocked the wind out of him and everything else,” Reid said after the game. “He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive as we look at this. He passed all the deals he needed to pass and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
The energy at last turned, the Browns started to lean intensely on their vaunted run game, which had created only 18 yards in the main half. Scratch Chubb changed over on fourth down with a hard run, at that point Hunt followed another fourth-down transformation on a similar drive by hitting the end zone against his previous group to make it 22-17 with 11:07 to go.
It stayed with Cleveland when Karl Joseph took out Henne in the end zone a couple of moments later, however the Chiefs stuffed Chubb on first down, constrained an inadequacy and eventually made Cleveland punt.
Henne’s gutsy scramble and Reid’s similarly challenging fourth-down consider shielded the Browns from getting another opportunity.
“It’s a little different when your quarterback goes down, someone so important to your offense and your team,” Kelce said, “but you have to throw it all into the same bucket of, ‘When adversity hits, what are you going to do? Where does your mind go? Where do we go from here as a team?’ We rallied around Chad, gave him some confidence, knowing we were out there making plays every single snap, just like if Pat was out there.”
BACK ON THE FIELD
Stefanski made his season finisher head training debut subsequent to missing a week ago’s down in Pittsburgh due to COVID-19. Expert Bowl OL Joel Bitonio and CBs Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson likewise were back from their diseases.
Browns: LT Jedrick Wills Jr. left with a lower leg injury on their first hostile play. His reinforcement, Kendall Lamm, left with an elbow injury, compelling Blake Hance to show up.
Chiefs: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (lower leg) was latent subsequent to getting back to rehearse this week unexpectedly since mid-December. CB Bashaud Breeland left in the final quarter with a blackout.
The Chiefs start getting ready for the Bills next Sunday. They beat them 26-17 in Buffalo in Week 6.