2021 vs. Browns
For the second consecutive season the Chiefs opened up at home in 2021 against a team that they had defeated in the divisional round the year before – this time, the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs narrowly escaped defeat and debilitating loss against the Browns in the playoffs the year before as they won 22-17 and had a massive scare with quarterback Patrick Mahomes going down in the third quarter with a concussion. Mahomes would return the following week to defeat the Bills in the AFC Championship game, but the season would not end as they had imagined in Super Bowl 55 against the Buccaneers.
Fast forward to September 12, 2021. The “Take it Back” revenge tour officially got underway against the Browns with Arrowhead Stadium packed for the first time since the Chiefs defeated the Titans in the 2019 AFC Championship game. 72,973 strong to see the Chiefs…trail 22-10 at half?
KC was missing safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was in COVID protocols, and the defensive product on the field showed. Cleveland got what they wanted for the entire first half on the ground and through the air. KC’s offense looked punchless through much of the first half, with their only trip to the end zone being a Patrick Mahomes 5-yard on the first drive of the season where Mahomes had to “take what the defense gave him”. The second half would be a different story.
Mahomes led the Chiefs on a methodical 75-yard drive to start the second half, ending with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. The plays later, Nick Chubb fumbled the ball and KC tacked on another field goal after another 10-play drive. All of a sudden a 12-point deficit is down to 2. Cleveland would answer to make it 29-20, but KC had touchdowns on their next 2 drives – a single 75-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill and a short 15-yard drive capped by another 11-yard touchdown to Travis Kelce following a Browns fumbled punt.
Once the comeback had begun, the crowd at Arrowhead took over. Cleveland had trouble operating the entire second half, with Baker Mayfield appearing visibly frustrated the entire second half. The Chiefs would go on to win but would lose 4 of their next 6 to start the year 3-4. They went on to win 9 of their last 10 games before falling short in the AFC Championship game against Cincinnati.