Oddsmakers were giving the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs an advantage of more than two touchdowns as they walked into NRG Stadium for their Week 15 game against the 1-11-1 Houston Texans. The Chiefs guaranteed a playoff berth and their seventh consecutive AFC West championship with a 30-24 victory — but the home team was determined to make things difficult for Kansas City.
At halftime, the Texans held a shocking 14-13 lead after getting a short field from a second-quarter fumble by running back Isiah Pacheco gave them the ball at the Chiefs’ 17-yard line. In the third quarter, a fumble by wide receiver JuJuSmith-Schuster gave Houston the ball at the Kansas City 49-yard line, which allowed the Texans to take a 21-16 lead. But after Houston tied the game at 24 with just over five minutes remaining, Harrison Butker’s 51-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds left was wide right.
In overtime, the Chiefs won the toss, but were forced to punt the ball after Mahomes was sacked on a third down. But on the next play, defensive end Frank Clark forced a fumble, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. pulled it out of the scrum — and on the play after that, running back Jerick McKinnon ran for a 26-yard touchdown to win the game.
The Chiefs won the opening coin toss, electing to defer their decision to the second half. As a result, Houston began with the ball — starting from the 25-yard line after a touchback.
Houston got rolling with a quick screen to wide receiver Amari Rodgers that broke through into the third level for a first down. Following that, tackles in the run game by linebacker Nick Bolton and defensive end Frank Clark forced a third down, where tight coverage forced a throw away. The Chiefs’ defense forced a quick punt to start the game.
A slant to wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster started the Chiefs’ opening drive, gaining seven yards and setting up third and short; tight end Travis Kelce moved the sticks on a quick hitter — then moved them again on the following play. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney’s first touch of his return was a jet sweep that gained five yards. On the ensuing third down, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling broke away from Houston’s secondary — but he and Mahomes weren’t on the same page, and the pass was thrown short. The missed opportunity was followed up by a punt.
Chiefs’ rookie cornerback Joshua Williams started the second drive by breaking up a slant. Safety Justin Reid and defensive end Carlos Dunlap helped stuff a run on the following snap. On third and 10, a quick screen was corralled by Clark and defensive end Mike Danna — allowing no yards on any of the three snaps. Kansas City forced a second-straight punt.
The opening play of Kansas City’s second drive ended with a plethora of Texans on top of Mahomes for a sack. That backed them up, and they couldn’t recover: pressure on third down forced an incompletion, and a second-straight punt.
Texans’ quarterback Jeff Driskell produced a nine-yard rush on the first play, setting up a chains-moving run on the next play. Linebacker Nick Bolton and defensive end George Karlaftis stuffed an outside run on the next snap, but Houston made up for it with a big pass play over the head of cornerback Trent McDuffie, gaining 34 yards. The Texans continued moving the ball down the field, taking advantage of blown man coverage by linebacker Nick Bolton to get into the red zone.
Kansas City forced a third down, where linebacker Darius Harris was called for pass interference to reset the downs for Houston. One play after a sack by Clark, quarterback Davis Mills found rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano, who beat cornerback L’Jarius Sneed on an in-breaking route. Houston had the early 7-0 lead.
After only one carry through the first two drives, rookie running back Isiah Pacheco broke out for 29 yards between two rushes — capping the first quarter with momentum near midfield.
Pacheco got more carries, getting deeper into Houston territory — but it was the other running back that capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown: Jerick McKinnon’s third touchdown in six quarters tied the game at 7-7.
The Chiefs’ defense continued to stuff the Houston rushing attack, forcing a third and six to start the possession. No pass rush allowed for a comfortable pass, where wide receiver Chris Moore caught and avoided Nick Bolton for a first down. Two plays later, Houston faced another third down — where a deep pass to cornerback Jaylen Watson’s coverage traveled too far and fell incomplete. It was the third punt of the game for the Texans.
On the first play of the Chiefs’ next drive, Pacheco got stripped on an inside carry — giving Houston the ball back immediately.
After a batted down pass by defensive end Carlos Dunlap, the defensive line failed to contain quarterback Davis Mills — who took his time escaping the pocket and running to the pylon, scoring the 17-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead.
Chiefs turned to veteran running back Ronald Jones on the next drive, who gained six yards on his first attempt of the game. The next play featured a botched snap, and a Texans pass rusher violently throwing Mahomes to the ground for a sack. On the next play, a throw short of the sticks didn’t get the job done, leading to a punt.
Houston’s ground game begun to take over, gashing Kansas City for 25 yards on three-consecutive plays. Kansas City did stuff one run, which led to third and two — where a quarterback run was stopped by linebackers Nick Bolton and rookie Leo Chenal, who finished off Bolton’s penetration. It led to another punt.
Mahomes looked to get a huge play on the team’s first play of the next drive, backed up at their own three-yard line — but a bomb to wide receiver Justin Watson could not be secured by the reserve receiver. It led to third down, where a scrambling Mahomes threw it across his body and found a leaping Kelce to move the chains. That was followed by a 13-yard gain by tight end Noah Gray, digging the Chiefs out of the backed-up position they were in.
With room to breathe, Mahomes found McKinnon for a 21-yard gain — then went to him once more for 11 yards as the first half went to the two-minute warning.
Kansas City kept rolling, getting inside the ten-yard line with a 12-yard scramble by Mahomes and a 12-yard reception by Kelce. They got to the four-yard line and took their last timeout with 20 seconds to go. On a sprint out, Mahomes found an outstretched Valdes-Scantling for a touchdown on the sideline. The receiver’s best catch as a Chief gave Kansas City a chance to tie it up before halftime, but a missed extra point kept the score at 14-13.
Houston settled for the one-point lead, kneeling before the break.
To start the second half, Kansas City leaned on the ground game with two carried and 12 yards by Pacheco. After a trick play produced a 15-yard completion to Smith-Schuster, Pacheco continued with a 12-yard rush and an 11-yard gain on a screen completion. Two plays later, they faced third and 4 — where a run stop by defensive tackle Maliek Collins forced fourth down. They settled for a short field goal, taking the 16-14 lead.
The Chiefs’ pass defense forced two straight incompletions, the second being a batted-down pass by defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. On third and 10, a pressure by Karlaftis forced an out-of-structure throw that fell incomplete due to tight coverage by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. It was Houston’s fifth punt of the afternoon.
Kansas City’s offense immediately worked near midfield with an 18-yard completion to Kelce going towards the sideline. On the next play, a catch by Smith-Schuster ended with a head-to-head hit by safety Jalen Pitre, penalized for 15 additional yards. It looked like they advanced into the red zone on the next play, bur Smith-Schsuter was called for a holding penalty to negate the play. Then, an illegal blindside block was called on McKinnon — putting the Chiefs into 2nd and 26.
After a stoppage in play, Houston challenged the fact that Smith-Schuster kept possession through the entirety of a six-yard gain. Even though it was called forward progress, they succeeded in the challenge — suddenly getting possession of the ball.
Houston started 49 yards away from the end zone, marching towards scoring with help by an offsides call on Frank Clark to pass a third down. Then, a third-down incompletion was turned around on a pass interference call by safety Juan Thornhill. On the following play, two more flags were called on the Chiefs — both for illegal contact. It set up Houston at the 10-yard line.
The Chiefs’ defense rose up to force stops on two-straight plays, setting up third and 7 — which was backed up to third-and-11 with a false start. Even so, the Texans scored with a touchdown throw to tight end Jordan Akins, who beat linebacker Willie Gay Jr. in man coverage. Houston had a 21-16 lead late in the third quarter.
Mahomes used completions to Smith-Schuster and Kelce to move the chains twice, setting up at their own 41-yard line as the third quarter expired.
Kansas City crossed midfield with a 12-yard completion to Smith-Schuster — then carved another chunk out of the Houston pass defense with a 15-yard out route to Valdes-Scantling. A screen completion to McKinnon earned 13 yards on the following play, and a defensive penalty set the Chiefs up at the eight-yard line. From there, Mahomes scrambled to the left pylon and stretched out for a lead-changing touchdown; on the two-point attempt, Mahomes shoveled to McKinnon to secure the 24-21 lead.
A quick third down set the Chiefs’ defense up in good position; Sneed’s tight coverage forced a fourth down, but he was called for pass interference to extend the possession. The Chiefs forced another third down, which was converted with a tight-window completion to tight end Brevin Jordan. Houston continued marching, moving the chains another three times before getting into the red zone.
A tackle for loss by linebacker Leo Chenal was followed by a near interception via cornerback Jaylen Watson. On third and goal, Dunlap batted away his second pass of the day. It led to a game-tying field goal, 24-24 with five minutes to go.
With the victory in their sights, Kansas City began 77 yards away from the end zone. The run game was a big part of advancing near midfield with the drive’s first four plays. A short, first-down run by McKinnon led to the two-minute warning.
The Chiefs faced third down and needed four yards to convert after a Houston timeout. Escaping a cluttered pocket, Mahomes found space and scrambled 14 yards to move the chains and set up at Houston’s 31-yard line. Two short runs set Kansas City up in a third and 11 with the clock ticking to 58 seconds remaining, and a screen pass didn’t find room. The Chiefs set Butker up to kick the game-winning field goal, running the clock down to 12 seconds before giving him the stage.
The 51-yard attempt sailed wide right, and the score remained at 24-24 with eight seconds to go. A kneeldown led to overtime in Houston.
The Chiefs won the coin toss, taking possession to begin the fifth period. Tight end Noah Gray got called for holding on the kickoff return, forcing Kansas City to start 91 yards away from the end zone.
A 19-yard completion to Smith-Schuster got the ball rolling, but they quickly faced third and one after that. Coach Andy Reid called a timeout to discuss the play call further. Out of the break, a play-action roll out got the ball quickly in Kelce’s hands — who took it 14 yards past midfield. Soon after, the Chiefs faced third down again, but this time, Mahomes couldn’t find a target before being sacked by a looping rusher. The overtime drive ended in a punt.
On the first play of Houston’s drive, a scrambling Mills was stripped by Frank Clark; the ball flew into a scrum, which Willie Gay came out of with possession. Kansas City had another chance to win.
McKinnon took the handoff on the next snap, weaving and dodging defenders to score the game-winning touchdown from 26 yards away. His second score gave Kansas City a 30-24 win in overtime.
Kicker Harrison Butker converted his first attempt at the extra-point kick in the second quarter. On his second try, he missed to the left — crucially keeping the Chiefs behind before halftime. Butker made his first attempt at a field goal, converting the 27-yard attempt to give Kansas City a narrow lead in the third quarter.
Punter Tommy Townsend booted his first punt 40 yards, landing inside the 20-yard line. His second punt traveled 57 yards, but was returned 13 yards. His third punt went 54 yards. A fourth punt came in overtime, where he booted it 42 yards.
Punt returner Kadarius Toney has returned one punt, forced a missed tackle and gaining three yards. On his second punt, he broke free after a few tackle attempts — but could only escape for a five-yard gain.
|Yards per play||6.6||3.8|
|Yards per rush||5.70||3.40|
|Passing Gross Yards||336||129|
|Passing Net Yards||313||125|
|Yards per pass||7.30||4.20|
|Rushing first downs||11||5|
|Passing first downs||20||8|
|Penalty first downs||2||5|
|Third down (Made/Att/Pct)||6/12/50%||4/10/40%|
|Fourth down (Made/Att/Pct)||0/0/0%||0/0/0%|
|Goal to go (Made/Att/Pct)||2/2/100%||2/3/67%|
|Red Zone (Made/Att/Pct)||2/3/67%||3/4/75%|
|Extra Points (Made/Att)||2/3||3/3|
|Field Goals (Made/Att)||1/2||1/1|
|Two-Point Conv (Made/Att)||1/1||0/0|
|Gross Punting Avg Yds||48.3||46.8|
|Net Punting Avg Yds||42.5||45.2|
|Total Rtn Yds (No KOs)||8||23|
|Punt Returns (Num/Yds)||2/8||3/23|
|Kickoff Returns (Num/Yds)||3/47||0/0|
|Int Returns (Num/Yds)||0/0||0/0|
|Time of Possession||37:22||27:25|
|Ronald Jones II||1||6||6.0||0||6|
|CHIEFS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|TEXANS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|Desmond King II||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Carlos Dunlap II||3||2||1||0.0||0.0||0||0||2||2||0||0||0|
|Desmond King II||3||2||1||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|CHIEFS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|TEXANS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|CHIEFS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|TEXANS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|Desmond King II||2||16||8.0||13||0|