By the time reporters walked into the Chiefs’ locker room some 15 minutes after the game, the buzz had yet to simmer.
“(Bleeping) Fitzmagic!” someone could be heard yelling, referring to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s nickname.
“Fitzmagic, man,” Mahomes said.
“I thought I loved Fitz before,” said Chiefs defensive end Demone Harris, who played with Fitzpatrick in Tampa Bay. “He’s the G.O.A.T.”
“I’ve already talked to a few different barbecue establishments in Kansas City that are interested in sending Mayor Suarez some stuff,” Lucas said. “He may get a sampler of different Kansas City barbecues as it turns out. We won’t make him pick just one.”
Why the Chiefs won
The Chiefs defense created pressure all day long. They recorded three sacks and eight quarterback hits. New acquisition Terrell Suggs recorded one of those sacks. The pressure led to two interceptions from Rivers. It was big plays and fewer errors that led to Kansas City’s victory. When the two teams met earlier in the year, the Chiefs forced four interceptions from Rivers.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
X factor: Pass-rusher Terrell Suggs. The Chiefs put in a waiver claim for Suggs in part to keep him from the Ravens. But imagine what a postseason boost he could give, even if for only a handful of plays per game. The Chiefs’ defense finished the season well, but any playoff team could benefit from a pass-rush specialist such as Suggs.
Winner: The Miami Dolphins
Miami’s 27-24 win is the biggest upset in terms of point spread since 1995. It’s more than just a late-season oddity, because now the Pats will have to play on wild-card weekend, a circumstance which drastically damages their hopes of repeating as champions. Before Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, the Patriots had a 10 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, per FiveThirtyEight; after the loss, that dropped to 3 percent.
1. On the day when they passed up the Patriots to take the AFC’s No. 2 seed, the Chiefs did not have one of their better offensive afternoons. But running back Damien Williams looked as good as he ever has, which could be a boon for a deep playoff run. Williams’ 124 yards were one shy of a career and season-high. Williams, troubled much of the year by injury, averaged more than 10 yards a clip thanks in large part to an 84-yard touchdown run. It was the first of two scores that each came in the second half and sealed the win -- and the second seed.
This is as tough a 1-2 punch at the top of the AFC that we have seen in a long time. The Chiefs have it going on both sides of the ball while the Ravens will get two weeks of rest after taking it easy in the final week of the regular season.
CHIEFS (12-4): Although the Chiefs held the AFC’s No. 1 seed last season, this is the most complete team of the Andy Reid era. Thanks to a Patriots loss, Kansas City has the No.2 seed and a bye. The Chiefs’ offensive numbers are not on 2018’s stratospheric level, but their post-bye defensive work has lessened the burden QB Patrick Mahomes must carry. This edition’s No. 7-ranked scoring defense provides a much stronger safety net than 2018’s 24th-ranked group. A Frank Clark-Terrell Suggs tandem is not definitively better than Justin Houston-Dee Ford on the D-line, but Tyrann Mathieu has significantly improved Kansas City’s secondary. The ex-Cardinal is playing near the level of his 2015 All-Pro season; the 5-foot-9 safety’s leaping end zone interception over 6-foot-4 Mike Williams helped the Chiefs obtain the bye. Rookie wideout/returner Mecole Hardman also represents a major upgrade for a Chiefs team on a six-game win streak. The Chiefs are capable of not just ousting the Patriots but winning their first Super Bowl in 50 years. SEASON GRADE: B + | MVP: QB Patrick Mahomes
Hill didn’t catch up to Williams on the play, but the NFL’s Next Gen Stats revealed the wide receiver ran 22.81 mph trying to get to the running back.
The mark tied for the fastest speed by an NFL player this season
That embarrassing play helped punctuate the Chargers’ disappointing season. The last-place Chargers finished winless in the AFC West and 5-11 overall after the Chiefs handed them a 31-21 loss in Sunday’s season finale at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Marshawn Lynch, who’d previously come up golden in a goal-line situation for the Seahawks, didn’t take the field until the play clock had already run down to approximately 21 seconds. Wilson had no chance to get a play off, and the ensuing delay of game penalty moved their second-and-goal play back to the 6-yard line — a penalty about as costly as Garland’s for San Francisco.
“We thank Freddie for his hard work and commitment to this organization but did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with him as our head coach. Our focus is on hiring an exceptional leader for this football team and we will take a comprehensive approach to this process. We are excited about the core players we have to build around and develop and we look forward to bringing in a strong head coach that will put this group of players in the best position to succeed.”
Added Henry: “If they’re going to feed me, I have to get it in. That’s the mentality of running the football. If they’ll feed it to me, I have to get it into the end zone. ... We have a relentless attitude and believe in one another and what we’re doing as a team in all three phases. We just kept fighting and focused on finishing each and every drive. It speaks volumes for the offense and what we were able to accomplish as a whole.”
“I just think that makes it that much sweeter,” Wentz said. “That guys have been — obviously you don’t want injuries, you never want to deal with injuries, but it’s part of football. For a lot of these guys, coming from a practice squad, being young, the journeys that they’ve been on — makes this that much sweeter to be a part of guys doing this stuff and doing something special.”
We don’t know for certain whether Garrett will be retained or fired, and we’re not certain when a decision will be made, as owner Jerry Jones opted not to reveal such information Sunday. Jones declined to comment on any decisions regarding Cowboys coaches or players and added he doesn’t have a “shareable timetable” for when he might decide on Garrett’s fate.
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2. Mahomes knows
When a play ends with a penalty flag on the turf, television directors have learned to turn their cameras on Mahomes. More often than not, he’s signaling to his coaches and teammates what penalty has been called. Even when the flag is away from the play, Mahomes is usually right.
Mahomes is so good at it that he can trust his eyes in real time. In the Chiefs’ opening drive, two Chargers interceptions — one of them returned for a touchdown — were called back when Mahomes took advantage of a free play after noticing the Chargers had been offsides at the snap.
Neither of Mahomes’ throws were good; both richly deserved to be intercepted. But Mahomes knew they didn’t have to be good; there was no risk in giving his receivers a chance to make a play.
Wide receiver Mecole Hardman was due for a game-changing play — and man, did he deliver! The 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was critically needed — and awesome. His first reception came when the offense was stuck in neutral; it led a touchdown on the very next play. We’ve seen it all season: Hardman can be a spark plug when he gets the ball in his hands.
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