On a third-and-14 play with two minutes left, Henne scrambled to the left and was stopped just short of a first down at the Kansas City 48-yard line. Chiefs Coach Andy Reid made a major gamble by going for it on fourth down and inches, and Henne was able to hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill for five yards and a game-clinching first down, sending the defending Super Bowl champions to their third consecutive AFC title game.
“That’s why we love Big Red,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said of that fourth-down call, referring to Reid’s nickname. Of Mahomes’s injury, he said, “Anytime any of our teammates go down, we always feel the need to step it up a notch.”
Cleveland had a chance to steal the win despite trailing 19-3 at halftime, but the Browns could not take advantage of Karl Joseph’s interception of a Henne pass in the end zone with just over eight minutes left. Cleveland converted a fourth-and-one play from its own 29 on the ensuing drive. But faced with fourth and nine at their own 32, the Browns punted and never got the ball back.
Henne took over after Mahomes was hurt in the third quarter. The 2018 NFL MVP ran to his right on third and one, and his head seemed to hit the ground when he was tackled by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson. Mahomes, who injured his left foot earlier in the game, struggled to keep his balance as he got up, went to the locker room to be checked for a concussion and was subsequently ruled out by the Chiefs.
Mahomes, who went 21 for 30 for 255 yards and a touchdown before he was injured, is “doing great right now,” Reid said after the game. “He passed all the deals he needed to pass.”
“All good brother,” Mahomes said on social media in response to a tweet from Wilson offering prayers. Still, he must receive independent medical clearance before he is able to return to the field.
Just after Mahomes exited the game, with Kansas City leading 19-10, Reid went for it on fourth and one and was rewarded when running back Darrel Williams gained 12 yards on a carry.
The Chiefs will become the first AFC team to host a conference championship game three years in a row. The only other team to do that? The NFC’s Philadelphia Eagles from 2002 to 2004 — a team also coached by Reid.
The Browns, who last week earned their first playoff victory since January 1995, were hoping to reach the AFC championship game for the first time since January 1990.
Instead, Cleveland will have to settle for a long-awaited winning season and the promise of many more to come with the young duo of Coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Stefanski, however, was left to rue a sequence in which the Browns fumbled out of the end zone for a costly touchback near the end of the first half and then could not stop the Chiefs from driving for a field goal and a 19-3 lead as the second quarter expired. On the first possession of the second half, Mayfield, who finished 23 for 37 for 204 yards and a touchdown, threw his only interception.
Kansas City blew its chance to take advantage of the interception, which Mathieu returned to the Cleveland 19-yard line, when Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed a 33-yard field goal attempt. Still, Stefanski said of that sequence: “It’s obviously disappointing. . . . I point the finger at me.”
The Browns’ fumble occurred when wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught the ball, headed upfield and dived for the end zone but was hit by Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen just before he crossed the goal line.
“Unfortunate play — he understands the rule. I understand the rule,” Stefanski said of Higgins.
The game looked as if it might not be close at that point, especially given that Kansas City’s dangerous attack had come out hot despite resting most of its starters in Week 17 before a first-round bye. The Chiefs showed no rust in driving for touchdowns on their first two possessions, but they settled for field goal attempts on their next four drives, with Butker making three and missing one.
Kansas City’s final field goal capped the drive on which Mahomes was injured and made it 22-10. Cleveland answered with a three-yard scoring run by former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.
At that point, after the 18-play drive, the Browns appeared to have plenty of momentum and time to complete the comeback. The Chiefs, meanwhile, were left to hope that Henne could gain some first downs and drain the clock.
An 11-year veteran in his second season with the Chiefs, Henne did just that, albeit while also throwing a potentially costly pick. Now he and the rest of the NFL wait to find out whether Mahomes will start against the Bills.
“We’ll see how he is [Monday],” Reid said, “but right now he’s doing good.”
Chad Henne, Chiefs hang on to beat Browns, move on to AFC championship game
Chad Henne and the Kansas City Chiefs are moving on to the AFC championship game. Whether the Chiefs’ backup quarterback actually plays in that game remains to be seen — the Chiefs and their fans will hope that superstar starter Patrick Mahomes can recover in time from a concussion to face the Bills with a Super Bowl berth at stake — but Henne did his part in helping Kansas City hold off the visiting Cleveland Browns, 22-17.
On a third-and-14 play with two minutes left, Henne scrambled to the left and was stopped just short of a first down at the Browns’ 47-yard line. Chiefs Coach Andy Reid then made a major gamble by going for it on fourth down and inches, and Henne was able to hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill for five yards and a game-clinching first down.
Cleveland had a chance to steal the win in a game in which it was behind by 19-3 at halftime, but the Browns could not take advantage of an interception of Henne in the end zone with just over eight minutes left. Cleveland converted a fourth-and-one play after it got the ball, but faced with fourth-and-nine at its own 32, the Browns punted and never got the ball back.
Henne took over after Mahomes was injured on a third-quarter play in which he ran to his right, trying to gain a first down on a third-and-one play, before being tackled by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson. Mahomes, who injured his left foot earlier in the game, went to the locker room and was subsequently ruled out by the Chiefs.
Just after Mahomes left the field, Reid went for it on fourth-and-one and was rewarded when running back Darrel Williams gained 12 yards on a carry. Reid took some criticism from online observers for the play on which Mahomes was hurt, but his other decisions, particularly at the end of the game, paid off handsomely.
The Chiefs, who won the Super Bowl last season, will now become the first AFC team to host a conference championship game three years in a row. The only other team to have done that were the 2002-04 Philadelphia Eagles — who were also coached by Reid.
Chiefs’ Chad Henne intercepted in the end zone, Browns take over with 22-17 deficit
Just when it looked like Kansas City’s backup quarterback, Chad Henne, might be able to quickly right the ship, he overthrew a receiver and helped Cleveland make an easy interception in the end zone for a touchback.
Browns safety Karl Joseph made the play, which came two snaps after Henne hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 24-yard gain on a third-and-five play. Earlier in the Chiefs’ drive, wide receiver Tyreek Hill made a remarkable, 23-yard catch in which he pinned a loose ball to his hip as he tumbled to the ground. The play was doubly damaging for Cleveland because it challenged the play and lost a critical timeout.
The interception came on a play that started at the Browns’ 38, with the Chiefs nearing field goal range. Instead, Cleveland got a chance to drive for the lead against a Kansas City team whose star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, has been ruled out with a concussion.
Browns score TD; Chiefs lead cut to 22-17 and Mahomes is out
Browns running back Kareem Hunt, a former member of the Chiefs, scored a fourth-quarter touchdown that helped pull his team to within 22-17. Moments before Hunt crossed into the end zone on a three-yard run, CBS announced that Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was ruled out of the game with a concussion.
The Chiefs are still up by five points, but they held a 19-3 lead at halftime and, with Chad Henne replacing Mahomes, their lead feels tenuous at best. Kansas City’s defense could be getting worn out, as well, considering that Cleveland’s touchdown drive consumed 18 plays and more than eight minutes of game time as they drove 75 yards.
The Browns converted two fourth-down plays on the drive, including one from their own 34 and another on which tight end Austin Hooper made a diving catch.
Mahomes injured, replaced by Chad Henne, Chiefs get FG and 22-10 lead
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the game against the Browns in the third quarter, during a drive in which the Chiefs took a 22-10 lead. Mahomes may have aggravated an injury to his left foot that he incurred earlier in the game, but he also may have picked up a head injury on a run in which he failed to pick up a yard on a third-and-one play. Mahomes struggled to gain his balance as he tried to get up after being tackled.
Mahomes was replaced by Chad Henne, and Kansas City was successful on fourth-and-one when running back Darrel Williams, himself playing in place of an injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire, carried the ball for 12 yards. The Chiefs, with Henne, then drove to the Browns’ 15-yard line, and Harrison Butker hit a field goal from 33 yards.
On the Chiefs’ previous possession, Butker had missed from 33 yards, but he is now three of four on field goal attempts.
Mahomes was shown heading back to the locker room, where the Chiefs said he was being checked for a concussion.
Browns get first TD on Jarvis Landry catch, down 19-10 to Chiefs
On their second possession of the second half, the Browns made no mistake, and now we have something that looks a lot more like a ball game. After getting a bit of a gift with a short miss on a Chiefs field goal attempt, following an interception by Kansas City, Cleveland drove for its first touchdown and cut its deficit to 19-10.
Baker Mayfield shook off the interception, which occurred on the third play of the second half, and hit wide receiver Jarvis Landry for a four-yard touchdown. The eight-play, 77 -yard drive started with running back Nick Chubb taking the ball twice for 41 yards.
After starting the game with touchdowns on its first two possessions, Kansas City has settled for field goal attempts on its past three drives. That has helped Cleveland stay in the game.
Chiefs miss field goal after interception
Already down 19-3 to start the second half, the Browns dodged a bullet when the Chiefs failed to capitalize on a turnover. Kansas City was able to intercept Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, but then Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
On the third play of the third quarter, Mayfield escaped pressure and rolled to his right, then tried to throw the ball back to his left, into the middle of the field, where safety Tyrann Mathieu stepped in front of wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Mathieu then returned the ball 18 yards to the Browns’ 19-yard line.
On the Chiefs’ first play at that point, a four-yard run by wide receiver Mecole Hardman, Cleveland’s star defensive end, Myles Garrett, left the field with an injury. Earlier in the game, Browns left tackle Jedrick Wills, their first-round pick last year, left the game with an ankle injury and was ruled out.
After getting the ball following the interception, the Chiefs could only get that four-yard gain. Butker missed an extra-point attempt in the first half, but he also made both his field-goal attempts before halftime.
Chiefs get FG just before halftime, increase lead to 19-3
Chiefs place-kicker Harrison Butker hit a 28-yard field goal just before halftime to help his team go to the locker room with a 19-3 lead over the Browns. Kansas City was able to drive 70 yards in just nine plays and one minute, 32 seconds of game time to put Butker in position for a chip shot.
If Cleveland goes on to lose, it may well look back on the final play of the drive preceding the Chiefs’ possession. Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins dived for the end zone on a catch-and-run, but just before he got there he was hit by Kansas City safety Daniel Sorenson, who forced the ball free.
Because the ball then went through the end zone and out of bounds, it was ruled a touchback, and the Chiefs gained possession at their 20-yard line. Add in the field goal for which they proceeded to drive, and the sequence amounted to a six- or even 10-point swing. Adding to the frustrations of the Browns and their fans, officials declined to flag Sorenson for a potential helmet-to-helmet hit on Higgins. However, NFL rules allow for players running with the ball to be hit in the head, provided the defender doesn’t lower his head to do so.
In some ways, the Browns could consider themselves fortunate to be within two scores, given how Kansas City had the better of the first-half action. The Chiefs had major edges over the Browns in total yards (293-144), total plays (37-24) and first downs (17-9).
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 19 of 25 passes for 233 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and he had a touchdown run, but he also picked up an injury to his left foot that had him limping at times. As usual tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill led the way among Chiefs pass-catchers, with a combined 10 catches for 150 yard and a touchdown.
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 11 of 17 passes for 134 yards, but running back Nick Chubb had just 12 yards on five carries. Cleveland’s other standout running back, Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs in 2018, was oddly not involved at all in the first half.
Browns lose scoring chance on touchback, still down 16-3
The NFL’s somewhat notorious touchback rule — which many observers feel metes out far too harsh a punishment to teams that happen to fumble out of the end zone before breaking the plane — reared its ugly head, at least in the eyes of the Browns. Cleveland lost a golden opportunity to score and trim its 13-point deficit when wide receiver Rashard Higgins lost the ball near the goal line, with officials ruling that the Chiefs would gain possession.
The gaffe negated a six-play drive in which the Browns appeared set to move from their 25-yard line into range for either a field goal or a touchdown. Instead, Kansas City held on to its 16-3 margin, with a chance to tack on some more just before halftime.
Chiefs get 50-yard field goal, 16-3 lead
The Chiefs did not get a touchdown on their third drive of the game, but they still ended it on a happy note when place-kicker Harrison Butker banged home a 50-yard field goal for a 16-3 lead over the Browns.
CBS claimed on its telecast that it was the first made field goal of that length in the history of playoff games at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
Earlier in the Chiefs’ 13-play, 53-yard drive, CBS’s analyst Tony Romo speculated that an injury to the left foot of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes may have led to some errant throws. Mahomes had been shown in the medical tent on the sideline for what appeared to be such an injury to his left foot.
For the game thus far, Mahomes has completed 13 of 17 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, with a 125.4 passer rating.
Two possessions, two TDs for the Chiefs, who have 13-3 lead
If the Browns were hoping to be able to pound the ball on the ground and chew up the clock with patient drives, this is not the way they wanted the game to start.
The Chiefs scored their second touchdown in as many possessions, this time on a 20-yard catch-and-run (and leap) by star tight end Travis Kelce. Place-kicker Harrison Butker, who missed his first extra-point attempt, banged home his second to help Kansas City to a 13-3 lead.
Wide receiver Mecole Hardman took a flip pass in the backfield from Patrick Mahomes for a 42-yard gain on the second play of the seven-play, 75-yard drive. Whereas running back Darrel Williams handled the rushing work on the first drive, in place of the injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs used Le’Veon Bell on the second drive.
Browns get field goal to trim deficit to 6-3
The Browns didn’t get the touchdown they wanted to keep up with the Chiefs, but they’ll take a field goal to get on the scoreboard, especially from 46 yards out in windy conditions at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. That ended a 12-play, 47-yard drive and trimmed the Chiefs’ lead to 6-3.
Tight end David Njoku took a short pass for a 27-yard gain with the help of some good blocking downfield, and quarterback Baker Mayfield converted two third-down plays. However, after the Browns drove to the Chiefs’ 20-yard line, two plays lost a total of 11 yards, including a sack of Mayfield on second down.
Patrick Mahomes rushing TD gives Chiefs 6-0 lead
The Kansas City Chiefs got off to a fast start in their playoff game against the Cleveland Browns, scoring on their opening drive for a 6-0 lead after place-kicker Harrison Butker missed the extra point. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran into the end zone with little difficulty from one yard out to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
The biggest play on the drive was a 26-yard pass from Mahomes to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, but perhaps of greater concern for the Browns was that the Chiefs were able to run the ball effectively even with rookie starting back Clyde Edwards-Helaire inactive because of an ankle injury. In his place, third-year back Darrel Williams handled the backfield work, including a nine-yard pass from Mahomes on a second-and-11 play in the red zone. Kansas City’s other running back of note, veteran Le’Veon Bell, did not get a snap on the opening drive.
That time Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield had the craziest college QB duel ever
The numbers in the box score looked fake, the clock ticked close to midnight and the tortillas flying through the Jones AT&T Stadium air were frozen. On Oct. 22, 2016, Oklahoma and Texas Tech played a football game that tested limits and expanded imagination. In an era of boundless offense, it set a new standard. It included nearly a mile of total yards. It could take forever to describe, but only a few words to explain.
“Honestly, it was pretty simple,” Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “It was Baker vs. Pat.”
Baker Mayfield has led the Browns to a playoff berth and victory in his third season after being selected first overall in the 2018 draft. Patrick Mahomes is the reigning Super Bowl MVP for the Chiefs, and is entering his third postseason as the team’s starter after being selected 10th overall in the 2017 draft.
But several years ago, before they were NFL stars, Mayfield and Mahomes combined for one of the looniest college football games in recent memory. Mayfield’s Sooners defeated Mahomes’s Red Raiders, 66-59, as Oklahoma and Texas Tech totaled 1,708 yards, which broke the previous record by more than 60. Mayfield passed for 545 yards and seven touchdowns. Mahomes threw 88 times for 734 yards, which tied a record. He also ran 12 times for 85 yards, which gave him a record 819 total yards. And he lost.
From the archives: After son’s death, Andy Reid finds success through second chances
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They stepped out of the cold and into the warmth and uncertainty of a private airport in Philadelphia. Failure was not an option.
In early January 2013, five members of the Kansas City Chiefs organization had traveled east, and when the big man with the familiar mustache walked in to join them, he could smell soft pretzels and — considering the crowd — feel the day’s importance.
“That must’ve been a big plane,” Andy Reid would remember thinking.
Earlier that week, Reid had been fired as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach after 14 seasons, most of them good, none of them quite good enough. The last two, for reasons personal and professional, had been downright terrible. But here he was, a man without a franchise for four whole days — Reid had never been out of work this long, and it was excruciating — and ready for a clean slate, a fresh challenge, an escape from the disappointment, and the tragedy, of the previous months. That and another shot at the one thing that had eluded him: a Super Bowl championship.
As it happened, the Chiefs officials were there for largely the same reasons.