KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs had lost Patrick Mahomes to a concussion and were in danger of losing the game.
Then their defense and Chad Henne — their defense and Chad Henne?! — along with a gutsy call by Andy Reid kept their hopes of a Super Bowl repeat alive, holding off the Cleveland Browns 22-17 on Sunday to advance to their third straight AFC championship game.
With their star quarterback reduced to a spectator, the oft-forgotten bunch opposite Mahomes' high-powered offense forced the Browns to punt in the waning minutes. Then, his 35-year-old backup showed some moxie with a 13-yard third-down scramble and audacious fourth-down completion to Tyreek Hill — when go-for-broke Reid decided to go for it — that gave the Chiefs (15-2) a first down with just over a minute left and allowed 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, as Mahomes wrote on Twitter after the win: “#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 clinched the AFC’s top seed in Week 16, but he hardly missed a beat before leaving midway through the third quarter. He finished 21 of 30 for 255 yards and a TD, and ran for another score.
Harrison Butker added three field goals for the Chiefs, who nearly blew a 19-3 lead but survived to become the first AFC team to host three consecutive conference title games. They'll face the Buffalo Bills next Sunday.