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.
Or, as Mahomes wrote on Twitter after the win: “#HenneThingIsPossible.”
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.
Baker Mayfield threw for 204 yards with a touchdown and a pick for the Browns (12-6), who were coming off their first playoff win since the 1994 season. But their inability to drive for the winning touchdown — they punted with 4:23 left in the game — and defensive letdown kept them from winning two playoff games in a season for the first time since 1950.