Maybe I’m being to sentimental, but I think Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne deserves a mention on this list. Against the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round, the unthinkable took place when Patrick Mahomes wobbled to the sideline after taking a seemingly innocuous hit on a designed quarterback run.
Chiefs Kingdom held its collective breath as Mahomes ran into the locker room to begin what would be a week-long education into the NFL’s concussion protocol. In his place would step long-time veteran, but sub-.500 quarterback Chad Henne.
The Chiefs were leading by 12 with 7:44 left in the third quarter. I’d be lying if I said that the final 22:44 of regulation didn’t feel like an eternity, as I’m sure it did for most diehard Chiefs fans. But Henne came up big in the Divisional Round.
Henne deserves a lot of credit, regardless of his total production in the game. In high school and college football, backups are usually kept prepared mentally and physically by getting actual reps in practice. In the NFL, given practice-time is so precious and the margins are so thin, a backup might not get any serious reps all season.
As luck would have it, Henne did in fact have the final week of the regular season to prepare in the starting role. Even so, it’s unlikely he got any reps preparing for the Browns defense which was much more capable than the Chargers unit.
Henne wasn’t lights out by any means, but he makes this list for his final two plays. I feel as though Chiefs Kingdom has already moved on from Henne’s heroics. It’s easy to do, when you have Patrick Mahomes performing brilliantly nearly every time he steps foot on the field.
Still, those two plays merit legendary status in the annals of Chiefs history. Barely clinging to a five-point lead, Henne would take what appeared a devastating sack on second down. With third-and-14 looming, Chiefs Kingdom was replete with anxiety.
As Henne took the snap, the Browns defense blanketing the Chiefs receivers, Henne made the gutsy decision to tuck the ball and scamper the country-mile for the first down. With every ounce of athleticism in his body, time seemingly at a stand still, he lunged for the first down marker. Though he came up inches short, his courage ignited something in Andy Reid.
With only 1:14 guaranteed to be left in the Chiefs season, Reid flipped the script on his entire career and went for it on fourth down on the Chiefs own side of the field. A hard pivot and route to the flats from Tyreek Hill followed by a laser-focused pass from Henne and the Chiefs were heading back to the AFC Championship game.
A lot was made of the play call to go for it on fourth down, but the Chiefs never would have been in that position if Henne hadn’t come miraculously close to converting on his own. If the Chiefs end the season as repeat champions, that play should be immortalized as one of the most quietly impactful in Chiefs history.