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The complete breakdown of Chad Henne’s 98-yard touchdown drive vs. Jaguars

When the Chiefs needed it, both head coach Andy Reid and the backup quarterback came through.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs were moving the ball with superb efficiency on offense. Suddenly, everything changed.

Patrick Mahomes was down. His ankle and knee were in two different directions from his torso. This looked incredibly serious.

Were the Chiefs' Super Bowl hopes over? Was this going to linger into next season? How could the team respond emotionally with its best player being out?

All of this floated through my head throughout that moment, but head coach Andy Reid doesn’t have the time to dwell on stuff like that during a game. Reid had to immediately manufacture a game plan around backup quarterback Chad Henne, who would need to lead the offense enough to win a game.

We only saw Henne for one drive, and he led what could become one of the most famous drives in Chiefs’ history, should Kansas City win a title. The Chiefs were pinned at their own two-yard line but went on a surgical 12-play drive that culminated in a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a two-score lead. The playcalling, execution, and composure of everyone involved were excellent.

Without that drive, the Chiefs might not be playing in the AFC Championship. In the biggest moments, Reid dialed up a perfect drive to keep Kansas City operating enough to win this game. Let’s break down how the Chiefs went down the field.

Play #1: First-and-10, KC 2

With the Chiefs backed all the way at their 2-yard line, the Chiefs needed to start their drive by getting out of the end zone. With Henne in, Jacksonville likely expected a run to get them out of the end zone, but Reid wanted to give Henne an easy pass to get him in rhythm.

Reid motions Travis Kelce as the No. 3 receiver in a trips formation. The Jaguars rotate their strong safety down into a robber zone, giving some help on Kelce vertically. Kelce runs a short hitch route against an out-leveraged linebacker, giving Henne an easy pass to get the Chiefs out of disaster territory.

Play #2: Second-and-4, KC 8

Reid was using jet motion with wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore often, giving Henne easy coverage indicators. If the nickelback traveled with the receiver, it was Cover 1. Otherwise, it was Cover 3. On this play, the nickel travels with Toney, but the Jaguars rotate their weak safety down into the run fit, helping their backside run fit.

Henne gives a slight fake to flash that he’s reading that safety, who plays contain on Henne just enough for Kansas City to run inside zone on the strongside. Left guard Joe Thuney has a beautiful block reaching the WILL linebacker, and center Creed Humphrey seals the nose tackle well. Great blocking to get a first down.

Play #3: First-and-10, KC 16

A similar play on first down, but the Chiefs go under center. They run the same jet motion — but from a 2X2 formation. The nickel once again travels with Toney. The Chiefs run outside zone to the weak side — away from the tight end — and get a good gain to keep their drive going.

Humphrey and Thuney combo block the defensive tackle well, and right guard Trey Smith climbs all the way to the MIKE to cut him off. All three interior linemen were terrific run blockers on this drive, which helped take pressure off Henne.

Play #4: Second-and-3, KC 23

This play was a near-disaster, but I still think the play call and process of this play are good. Henne almost gets picked here, but he runs this play well. The Chiefs are in a 2X2 with a weak-side stack formation, and the Jaguars respond with Cover 3. Henne looks to the stack to see if that’s open, but he gets off that quickly when it’s covered.

Henne works all the way to the back-side dig to tight end Noah Gray, who’s open on the route. This play almost fails because Smith loses in pass protection, getting pushed right back into the pocket. The defensive tackle is able to get Smith leaning and gets his hand up to bat the ball. The Chiefs were fortunate it wasn’t picked.

While it almost ended badly, Henne still executed this play just fine. The dig was open against the coverage the Jaguars were running, and the timing of this play was great. Even if it almost failed, Henne was running the offense well.

Play #5: Third-and-3, KC 23

It’s the first third-down attempt with Henne, and the Chiefs give him an easy throw to move the chains. The Chiefs get into a bunch, and the Jaguars respond with Cover 1. Kelce’s the inside receiver in the bunch, and he runs a short inside route to hold the safety inside. The Chiefs roll Henne out, and the Jaguars aren’t ready to Banjo — or switch — that route concept that frees Toney for an easy first. Very simple concept, but against a man coverage team, this play works.

Play #6: First-and-10, KC 31

Reid was doing a good job giving Henne answers to what the Jaguars were doing from single-high. The Chiefs motion McKinnon out to form an Empty formation, which forces the Jaguars to make a check against it. They push their MIKE linebacker to run in man coverage with McKinnon, which means the Jaguars are in Cover 1. With this answer, Henne works to Kelce on the option route, which is something he’s going to win every time.

Henne once again reads this play well, but the use of motion gave Henne answers whether it was man or zone, and then he could pick his matchup based on that. Sounds simple, but for a backup quarterback, giving him the answers to the test presnap is helpful for him to succeed.

Play #7: Second-and-6, KC 35

This play doesn’t work, but I like the play call. Reid has Moore run a jet motion in both directions, and the nickel travels with Moore both ways. That nickel doesn’t respond to the second motion quickly, which should help the Chiefs block up this jet sweep well.

However, the Chiefs don’t block this well. Tight end Noah Gray loses his block front side against a defensive end, which forces Moore to work this inside. Humphrey can’t reach the MIKE linebacker in time to cut him off, and the weakside safety reads this well and blows it up. The play call gets a good look, but Jacksonville defends it better.

Play #8: Third-and-3, KC 38

I love this play call by Reid. The Chiefs get into a split gun formation, putting Toney and McKinnon in the backfield next to Henne. Reid motions McKinnon to the No. 2 receiver weak side, and the Jaguars move their weak safety to cover him. This indicates man coverage, so the Chiefs have Kelce run a spot route right at the sticks, and Kelce boxes his defender off for the first down.

The protection is great as well. The Jaguars show a double-A-gap pressure, and the Chiefs respond with a full slide to that right. This is the correct protection against this look, but it leaves the defensive end unblocked on the back side.

Henne’s responsible for this, and he knows he has to work to his hot read (Kelce) quickly. He gets lit up, but he executes this protection perfectly to move the chains. The Jaguars also got called for roughing the passer, turning this into a massive gain.

Play #9, First-and-10, JAX 43

Reid was on a heater this drive, but I didn’t love this play call. The Chiefs roll out 13 personnel (one running back and three tight ends) but get into an empty formation. They have four receivers on one side and tight end Blake Bell's isolated backside. That backside receiver typically has to beat man coverage, so putting Bell there is an interesting choice.

The Jaguars run a Poach coverage from quarters, using their weak safety to carry any vertical over route that comes his way. The Jaguars defend everything front side well, and Henne has to try and work to his back-side read, which is covered by a dropping defensive end and safety.

It was the one bad play call on this drive.

Play #10: Second-and-10, JAX 43

Reid dials up a run to hopefully force third-and-short, so he calls an offset zone run with Pacheco. Pacheco doesn’t read this out well, running right into Smith when there was no hole there. This could’ve been a disaster, but Pacheco bounces off of that well, works all the way outside — and he generates a massive run off of it.

Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. deserves a ton of credit on this play. He’s responsible for sealing that front-side defensive end off, and he pushes his man six yards off the ball. This allows Pacheco to work all the way outside and get the Chiefs in the red zone.

Play #11: First-and-goal, JAX 4

The Chiefs go under center on first-and-goal and call a simple iso run for Pacheco. They’re running right into the A-gap, and Smith has an excellent push to clear space. Pacheco reads this well, setting up a defensive tackle before cutting left. He had a chance at a touchdown here but gets tripped up. It’s a good block by Smith, and the vision from Pacheco to get the ball at the one-yard line.

Play #12: Second-and-goal, JAX 1

This play ends a terrific drive by Reid and the offense. The Chiefs get into another empty formation but have McKinnon as the No. 2 in a stack formation. The Jaguars have to declare their coverage with their MIKE linebacker, who travels with McKinnon, indicating man coverage. McKinnon runs a motion to once again reveal man coverage.

The Chiefs have Kelce as a wing on the formation, which makes it difficult for the Jaguars to know who has Kelce and who’s the hole player in zone coverage. This slight miscommunication gives enough time to cause confusion, and the Chiefs get an easy touchdown on a pick route.

This play also had a zone coverage beater on the back side, which is open. Henne reads this right, but wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was open on the drag route. Reid dialed up the perfect play in the red zone, capping an excellent drive by him.

The bottom line

When the Chiefs needed it the most, Reid reminded everyone once again that he’s one of the best designers and play callers the NFL has ever seen. When he needed to steer the car without Mahomes, he couldn’t have had a better drive.

Henne and the offense executed this drive to perfection, but Reid helped his quarterback out by getting rid of the ball quickly, using motion to help him read coverages and blending in a good run game on top of that. Everything worked on that drive.

We’ll see how Reid adjusts for some limitations in Mahomes’s game because of the injury, but regardless, if he doesn’t dial this drive up, the Chiefs might lose. Reid deserves a ton of respect for how he handled this drive — something most coaches couldn’t pull of in a playoff game.

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