Damien Williams ran the ball three yards for a touchdown to give the Kansas City Chiefs a 28-17 lead at the beginning of fourth quarter — and with that, a city that had been waiting to go back to the Super Bowl for 50 years could breathe.
A 60-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Sammy Watkins on the next possession meant it could celebrate. The Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans, 35-24, to clinch their first AFC title in franchise history.
The key play in the game made for perhaps the greatest of Patrick Mahomes’ young career. At Tennessee’s 27-yard line with under a minute left in the second quarter, Mahomes was flushed out to his left then darted up the field. Mahomes juked out linebacker Rashaan Evans, then broke two tackles as he dove for the end zone. The touchdown gave the Chiefs a 21-17 lead — for the second week in a row, overcoming an early multiple-possession deficit.
Two second-half defensive plays — the first, a tackle by safety Daniel Sorensen on a third-down scramble at the end of the third quarter and the second, a third-down sack by Tanoh Kpassagnon at the beginning of the fourth quarter — gave the Chiefs the ball back so they could continue to extend their lead.
The Titans began the game with the football, and on their initial drive, Chris Jones — who was a game-time decision — came in on third down and pressured Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who had to throw it away. Tennessee settled for a 30-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
After the Titans forced three-and-out, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel kept the team on the field on fourth-and-2 at the Kansas City 29, and Tennessee converted. At first-and-goal at the Kansas City 4, Vrabel called a direct snap to running back Derrick Henry, who walked in the end zone untouched. CBS analyst Tony Romo noted the Titans copied a play the Chiefs ran against the New England Patriots earlier in the season.
Facing fourth down-and-2 on the next drive, it was Andy Reid’s turn to keep the team on the field. Mahomes targeted Travis Kelce just past the line, and Kelce corralled the football as he fell to the ground. Four plays later, Tyreek Hill took a jet sweep from Mahomes 8 yards for the touchdown to get the Chiefs on the board — 10-7.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland took a key defensive pass interference penalty that set the Titans up nicely at the Kansas City 14-yard line. The Titans pushed the ball to the 1-yard line, and with everyone thinking a Derrick Henry run was coming, the Titans ran a play-action pass to offensive lineman Dennis Kelly to give Tennessee a 17-7 lead with less than seven minutes to go in the second quarter.
After that Titans’ scoring drive took more than nine minutes, the Chiefs answered in five plays and 2:36 of game time. The scoring play was a 20-yard pass to Hill for his second touchdown of the game, which cut the game’s deficit to 3 points. That is when Mahomes took control of the game with his 27-yard touchdown run.
The Titans cut the lead to 35-24 with 4:18 left to go in the game when Tannehill hit tight end Anthony Firkser for a 22-yard touchdown.