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Chiefs survive Mahomes’ exit to defeat Browns in thriller

With Mahomes going down, the Chiefs defence and backup quarterback Chad Henne stepped up to secure the win

(Getty Images)

“#HenneThingIsPossible”, a sidelined Patrick Mahomes wrote on Twitter after the Chiefs managed to hold off the Browns in a thrilling 22-17 victory to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.

With Mahomes reduced to a spectator after undergoing concussion protocol from a hard hit and unable to return to the game, the Chiefs defence managed to force the surging Browns to punt in the final minutes. Then Chad Henne, who before Week 17 hadn’t played a game since 2014, managed to deliver a long third-down scramble and a gutsy fourth-down completion to Tyreek Hill with just over a minute left to secure the win for the Chiefs.

While Henne did steal the show, Mahomes was playing a great game after not playing for 21 days. He finished 21 of 30 for 255 yards and two touchdowns before exiting.

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.

Baker Mayfield threw for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss after coming off the Browns first playoff win since 1994. However, their inability to drive for the game-winning touchdown ultimately cost them (they punted with 4:23 left in the game). The Browns didn’t get the ball back on offence for the rest of the game.

Mahomes started off hot, completing 11 of 12 passes to lead the Chiefs to back-to-back touchdowns to start the game. Mahomes ran for the first and found Kelce on a check down for the second.

Both teams exchanged field goals after, and the Browns were marching down the field for what could’ve been a momentum-changing score heading into the half. Raschard Higgins tried to stretch over the goal line for a touchdown, but Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen arrived just in time to deliver a hit, popping the ball loose and into the end zone for a touchback.

Things got worse for Cleveland, as the Chiefs drove down the field with 1:32 left to get them within range for a Butker field goal. His kick gave the Chiefs a 19-3 lead heading into halftime.

Starting the third quarter, the Chiefs managed to intercept Mayfield. However, Kansas City couldn’t capitalize on the following drive as Butker missed a field goal off the upright. Mayfield got it right on the following possession though, capping a 77-yard drive with a touchdown throw to Jarvis Landry.

Then things got bad for Kansas City.

Patrick Mahomes was tackled around the head with 7:27 left in the quarter. He was left crumpled on the field after the hit. Mahomes was already injured by a foot injury. He stumbled trying to get to his feet and was eventually helped to the blue tent on the sideline where he was evaluated for a concussion.

He would not return for the remainder of the game.

It was a huge momentum swing for the Browns, as they were able to get their lethal run game going. The Browns converted twice on fourth-down, and Kareem Hunt managed to score against his former team to make it 22-17 with 11:07 to go.

Cleveland kept their foot on the pedal with a Karl Joseph interception off of a Henne pass in the end zone a few minutes later. However, the Chiefs were able to stuff the Browns running attack, forced an incompletion, and made the Browns punt. It would be Cleveland’s last offensive possession of the game.

Henne’s gutsy scramble and Reid’s equally gutsy fourth-down call kept the Browns offence off the field, and the Chiefs managed to hold off the Browns to win the game.

The Chiefs will play the Bills in Arrowhead next Sunday in the AFC Championship game. They beat Buffalo 26-17 in Week 6.


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