The Kansas City Chiefs withstood a tough effort from the Cleveland Browns on both sides of the ball as well as numerous injuries—including the loss of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a potential concussion—in order to earn a home win and advance to the AFC Championship. With their 22-17 win at Arrowhead on Sunday, the Chiefs earned the opportunity to host the Buffalo Bills for another trip to the Super Bowl.
From the loss of Mahomes and others to injury to an incredibly gutsy fourth-quarter call by Andy Reid, this was a game to remember.
The Chiefs got to work early on the opening drive with a balanced 75-yard campaign that featured great runs by Darrel Williams and a perfect series for Mahomes, who went 4-for-4 on passing attempts before running it in himself for a short touchdown scamper.
The Browns responded with a scoring drive of their own that ends with a 46-yard field goal by Cody Parkey, but the Chiefs responded right back with another 75-yard touchdown drive. This time, Mahomes overcame a couple penalties by the offensive line to find Travis Kelce in stride for a leaping 20-yard touchdown that put the Chiefs up by 10.
During the drive, Mahomes appeared to injure his toe and the Chiefs quarterback went into the medical tent for some quick treatment. From there, it was clear Mahomes was grimacing and limping in pain at various points, but it didn’t affect the team’s offensive capabilities too much going forward.
The Chiefs added a field goal to go up 16-3 before the Browns were on the wrong end of what will be one of the most talked about plays of the game. On a nice long drive, Mayfield threw a nice pass to Rashard Higgins, who stretched out near the goal line to cinch the touchdown. Instead, Chiefs safety Dan Sorensen led with his helmet and knocked the ball free just before the goal line. The fumble rolled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback.
Not only was the hit itself an uncalled penalty, but the Browns have to be frustrated at the rule itself. Here’s the play:
After the ruling, the Chiefs put together a short drive that resulted in a field goal for Harrison Butker, his second, for a 19-3 lead at halftime.
After halftime, the Browns came out and turned the ball over when Tyrann Mathieu intercepted an errant Mayfield pass on the Browns’ first drive. However, a missed short field goal by Butker, who also missed an extra point early in the game, on the Chiefs’ ensuing drive kept things even. That’s when the Browns put together a nice touchdown drive anchored by long runs by Nick Chubb. Jarvis Landry brought in a short pass for the Browns’ first touchdown of the day.
From there, the third quarter got scary for the Chiefs as Mahomes got hit on the next offensive series and suffered a clear head injury. He was able to run back to the locker room on his own power, but it looked like he possibly suffered a concussion. The Browns then went ahead and scored their second touchdown of the game on the next drive, an incredibly long 18-play series that took more than 8 minutes off the clock before Kareem Hunt found the end zone. The Chiefs led 22-17.
From there, the Chiefs would further unravel when a drive was stalled by a poor penalty by Ricky Seals-Jones which was followed by a head-scratcher of an interception by Chad Henne.
Fortunately the Chiefs defense came up big on the Browns’ next drive. They forced one fourth-down conversion and then stopped them on a third-and-long to force a Browns punt with just over four minutes to go.
From there, Chad Henne and the Chiefs offense put together some of the most memorable plays in Chiefs postseason history. When facing a third-and-14 play from their own 35-yard line, Henne scrambles for what initially looked like a first down. From there, Reid called an unexpected pass as every Browns defender expected the Chiefs try to draw them offsides. Instead, Henne hiked the ball and threw a short pass to Hill to ice the game.
The Chiefs have now won 24 of their last 25 games and host their third consecutive AFC Championship game.