A Houston field goal had just made it 24–0 with just under 11 minutes left in the first half when Hardman took the kickoff and found a seam right up Main Street. The second-round pick hit it, then cut to a wide-open right of the field. Fifty-eight yards later, the game was changed for good.
He sparked us,” Watkins said a few hours after the fact. “We went down there and scored, and after that, we were on fire. Energy was contagious, everybody just feeding off each other. And it just kept on, trickled down into the defense getting stops and turning the ball over, and we’re scoring and we couldn’t be stopped.”
Safety Justin Reid took the direct snap and ran right. The play could have worked, and perhaps authored a different ending than the blowout that later ensued. If Reid sidesteps the safety, he likely picks up the first down with ease. But Sorensen stepped into the void and blasted Reid short of the sticks.
“That’s my responsibility. I did my job, just like anybody else would have done their job.”
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will have to win the rest of the playoff games with their offense. Their defense, to no surprise to me, won’t be able to “win” them games. The Texans rushed the ball well until they needed to pass only. The Chiefs allowed big plays again in the pass game and didn’t force any turnovers.
The Texans built their lead with flukes; the Chiefs erased it with consistent dominance. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL, and Sunday he proved he can jump over even the highest hurdles and clear them by record distances.
7. Blake Bell found the end zone for the first time this season
Mahomes found Bell for an 8-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to extend the Chiefs’ lead, marking Bell’s first touchdown of the season.
Bell was the third player to find the end zone in the game for Kansas City, joining Kelce and Williams.
Up 21-0, O’Brien opted to kick a field goal on fourth-and-one from the KC 13-yard line, rather than go for the throat. That decision is fine in a vacuum; the Texans took a 24-0 lead. What came next was a mess: the Chiefs had scored their first touchdown but were still in deep trouble when O’Brien opted for – or allowed his special teams coach to call – a fake punt from his team’s own 31. KC stopped it. After the fake punt, the revitalized Chiefs rattled off five touchdowns without reply, ending the day with a 51-31 victory.
Overreacting to the extremes presented by the Chiefs and Titans seems naive. The Titans have built a good offense around an excellent line and a back with rare athleticism in Derrick Henry, who can absorb more contact than just about anybody in football. It would be foolish for a team without those weapons to insist on running the ball nearly 70% of the time on offense. And likewise, the Chiefs have terrifying talent across the board in their passing game. Every time they handed the ball off while the game was competitive was a gift to the Texans.
Chiefs -7.5 vs. Titans, O/U 51
Sun., Jan. 19, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS, stream on CBS All Access here)
What a wild way for these two teams to collide in the AFC Championship Game. The Titans manhandled the Ravens on Saturday, getting up early on Baltimore, punching the Ravens in the mouth and refusing to let up. They stuffed Baltimore over and over on fourth down, shutting down drives into Tennessee territory. Baltimore couldn’t mount a comeback and now Ryan Tannehill is four quarters away from playing in the Super Bowl ... in Miami! To get there he has another tall task, setting up as a pretty big road underdog for the third week in a row.
Around the NFL
“I just want to win,” Clowney said, via ESPN. “I’m trying to get to the Super Bowl by any means. That’s what I’m looking for: Who’s going to get me there? I ain’t looking to get on no sorry team for no money. That ain’t going to fly. I ain’t gonna put my body through all of that just to lose no 16 games, go home with my check. I’d hate that, so that ain’t what I’m doing. So if I can’t win no Super Bowl, I ain’t going to no team that can’t win.”
“We are in a battle for social justice,” the statement read. “The current system of hiring and promoting talent into the upper levels of NFL management is a flawed system. We cannot expect fairness if business remains status quo. Our focus must shift from counting emblematic victories each year to calling for measurable initiatives that support sustainable progress.”
“We weren’t going to let someone come in here and steal this from us in our home state,” LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, completing one of the best seasons by any college football player in history, said.
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“Kelce was banged up during the week and he fought through it,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid after the game. “You saw he didn’t come out at halftime. He stayed in and got a little treatment on his leg. It’s kind of all over the place. It’s not one exact spot, it’s all over the place. It tightened up on him.”
S Daniel Sorensen was on the field for every defensive snap — along with S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Bashad Breeland and CB Charvarius Ward. Sorensen’s use has steadily risen throughout the season, but it’s the first time he’s been in for every defensive snap.
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