After the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns 22-17 to advance to the AFC Championship, our Matt Stagner put Darrel Williams and Tyrann Mathieu among his 6 winners and 3 losers. John Dixon highlighted Daniel Sorensen among his five things we learned from the game. In their three big takeaways, the Arrowhead Pride Nerd Squad noted important plays from Kansas City cornerbacks. And Pete Sweeney pointed out that Chiefs fans will remember the game for years to come.
As daring as an NFL head coach could possibly be, Andy Reid sent Henne and the offense back out in a shotgun look — one that would lead you to believe the Chiefs would try to make the Browns jump offsides before calling a timeout. Instead, Henne snapped the ball with five seconds on the play clock — and Tyreek Hill caught a 5-yard pass and slid down in bounds as the 16,000 at Arrowhead erupted.
The win comes with an immediate question — will Patrick Mahomes be back in time for the conference title matchup with the Buffalo Bills? That will no doubt be the discussion point all week.
But for tonight — and forever — we have Henne and Reid and the wherewithal they possessed to go take the game... rather than having it taken from them.
It is a sequence that will never be forgotten.
On Monday, reporters wanted to know about Mahomes’ condition.
“I just leave that with (vice president of sports medicine and performance) Rick (Burkholder) and the docs,” said Reid. “Because of the protocol, it’s a no-brainer from the coach’s standpoint. I mean, you don’t have to think about it, you just have to go forward and make sure you have an answer if he’s there, have an answer if he’s not there. I can’t tell you from a medical standpoint where he’s at. I mean, I don’t know that. So, that’s their decision and I just follow it.”
Toward the end of his presser, Reid was asked how Mahomes was feeling Monday morning.
“Well, he felt good enough not to have to do a press conference,” smiled Reid.
Then Kent Swanson detailed the play that electrified Tony Romo on Sunday evening.
Things got tenser when backup quarterback Chad Henne threw an interception in the end zone, finishing a promising drive with a turnover.
The defense got off the field — setting up Henne with 4:09 left between the Chiefs and a chance at the Lamar Hunt Trophy. A third-and-14 at the two-minute warning set up some drama. Henne scrambled for what looked like enough for a first down but was ruled up short. Fourth and inches. Cleveland had no timeouts remaining. Convert and the game is over.
What does Andy Reid call with the game (and perhaps the season) on the line? A similar play to what he called to ice the game against the Miami Dolphins — a sprint-rub concept to Tyreek Hill.
On Tuesday, the final Arrowhead Pride power rankings of 2020 predicted a rematch of the 1966 AFL-NFL Championship.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (1st)
Nothing is ever easy, is it? Why can’t our team just be one of those that dominate from start to finish? There always has to be drama. Well Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and anyone else from the Chiefs reading this, I would like to see my 33rd birthday. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to see Monday morning.
2. Green Bay Packers (2nd)
This team is really good, Chiefs fans. The way they dismantled the Rams must have sent warning signs to the other members of the final four. The thought of Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady as an undercard to Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen is a football geek’s dream. Rodgers really needs this victory over Brady for his own legacy.
When Reid spoke to the press again, Mahomes’ status was Question One.
“[Wednesday’s] not the biggest part,” head coach Andy Reid told reporters during his post-practice Zoom call. ”[Thursday’s] a bigger practice — a longer practice than today is. [The injured players] all seemed to make it through well. We’ll just see how it goes tomorrow.”
It seemed as if — by accident or design — the Chiefs had arranged their practice schedule to suit the league-mandated concussion protocol that Mahomes and Breeland are required to follow. Reid was asked where Mahomes was in the protocol.
“It’s whatever day we’re in here,” chuckled Reid. “They kind of base it off that. He’s done well up to this point. They just progress you through the days. So today was limited work and no contact — I think — was the schedule for today. And that’s kind of what we’re doing on Wednesday. So it fit in perfect with that.”
The Pete Sweeney recalled 2018, when the then-Jacksonville cornerback poked the bear, referring to Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill as a “return specialst” — which Hill continues to reference.
“We’ll just have to see who has the better game, him or (Travis) Kelce because I’m still the return specialist,” said Hill.
And there it was again. Asked if that was the best gift he could have ever been given in terms of motivation, Hill confirmed.
“Oh yeah,” he smiled, “up there, high on the charts. I mean — I guess I fit well in this scheme, that’s all I got to say. I just fit well in the scheme. Got a great quarterback, great coach, great weapons all around me, great offensive line, so I just fit well in the scheme.”
As it sounds, Hill must have recently caught a football analyst crediting his wild success to Reid’s West Coast scheme.
One thing is for sure: he won’t forget.
Mahomes Watch continued on Thursday.
“Pat and Breeland are both in the protocol,” Reid told reporters during a press briefing, “and working on a limited basis. I mean, that’s kind of where we’re at. And both are improving.”
Reid said that Mahomes took “a majority” of the starter snaps during the practice.
“Pat looked good out there,” said Reid. “He did a nice job when he was doing it. Looks like he’s moving around well. He feels good. It’s just important that we follow the protocol — and that’s what we’re doing.”
Then we noted what the Chiefs were saying about the Bills.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu recognized that the budding star quarterback could have played better, and gave us a peek behind the curtain with what he thinks the Chiefs defense will see this game.
“I think the last time we played them it probably wasn’t his best outing as a quarterback,” Mathieu recalled. “So I’m pretty sure they’re going to come in here this Sunday and try to get into a rhythm fairly quickly. I could see them using his legs early on to kind of get him in a groove because he’s one of those quarterbacks, once he gets into a groove, once he gets his confidence up, he’s tough to stop. So, I think it’ll be really important for us to come out of the gates playing really hard, really fast and everybody communicating.”
Earlier in the season, Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker had the yips for a while, struggling with extra points. On Sunday, he missed another — plus a 33-yard field goal. On Thursday, his coach said that this time was different.
“It had nothing to do with what happened earlier,” declared Toub. “It was just an operational glitch that we had with the rotation of the ball. The laces came down in a weird spot. Not one time all year did that happen — or in practice, for that matter. And it happened twice. Both of those kicks we rotated a different way.”
Toub explained that long snapper James Winchester is so good at managing the rotation of the ball during his snaps that the ball doesn’t have to be spun so that the laces face away from the kicker. But somehow, that didn’t happen on Sunday’s missed attempts.
“The laces showed up to where they were facing Butker,” said Toub. “And Tommy Townsend [had] to deal with getting them out of the way. It’s a matter of which way we’re going to rotate the ball. He rotated it where Butker could see the laces for a longer period of time — [and] that’s not what we want him to do. We want to rotate the opposite way, so it goes away.”
After Mahomes spent the week in the most-watched concussion protocol in NFL history, all eyes were on Friday’s media briefing, where Reid was queried about Mahomes’ (and Bashaud Breeland’s) status.
“Listen, they seem to be doing well, but I’m not a doctor,” Reid laughed. ”So they’ve been poked and pronged and about everything here — tested and re-tested — so you’ve got to go back and do that final one and just see where we’re at. They’ve done well — and they’ve looked and acted normal since they’ve been out here. I rely on the docs; I’m not a medical expert by any means.”
This didn’t seem like a good sign. But after Travis Kelce spoke to reporters on the Zoom call, Mahomes — rather than backup quarterback Chad Henne — came to the podium.
Asked if he could explain what the week had been like — and if he could explain exactly where he was in the protocol — Mahomes lofted a 60-yard bomb into the arms of a sprinting wide receiver.
“I just got out of it, actually.”
And just like that... it was over.