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Final Score: Chiefs beat Dolphins 26-7, advance to Divisional round

Kansas City defeats Miami in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On Saturday evening, the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Miami Dolphins on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for the second matchup of the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend. In the coldest game the Chiefs have ever hosted — four degrees below zero at kickoff — the Chiefs grabbed a memorable 26-7 victory that sent it to next weekend’s AFC’s Divisional round.

First quarter

The Dolphins won the coin toss for the fourth coldest playoff game in NFL history and deferred, putting the Chiefs on offense first. Leo Chenal picked up a bouncing kickoff and advanced to the 31-yard line to start the drive. Patrick Mahomes was incomplete on his first two throws — one to Travis Kelce and one to Rashee Rice. On his third pass, the league’s best quarterback found Kelce to convert a third-and-10. Isiah Pacheco then took a pair of carries to move to the Miami 44-yard line. An eight-yard pass to Kelce and a 23-yard carry by Pacheco moved the ball into the red zone. Two plays later, Mahomes found Rice for an 11-yard touchdown. Harrison Butker’s extra point opened the score at 7-0 Chiefs.

A touchback started the Dolphins’ first drive on their own 25-yard line. Running back Raheem Mostert carried on the first two downs for less than two yards. A false start penalty then set up third-and-13. A pass to running back Jeff Wilson went only for six yards, sealing a three-and-out for the Kansas City defense. Punter Jake Bailey’s kick only went 29 yards, starting Kansas City’s second possession at their own 44-yard line.

Pacheco started the drive with a one-yard carry and a short pass to Mecole Hardman gained three more. Mahomes and Hardman could not connect deep on third down, bringing Tommy Townsend out to punt. Chenal downed the kick at the 11-yard line.

Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle took a short pass for nine yards to start Miami’s second series, and Mostert moved the chains on the next play. After De’Von Achane was stopped for no gain, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ran for a first down. The Dolphins appeared to be driving as Tagovailoa found Achane for almost ten yards. An incomplete pass and then an illegal formation penalty, however, set up third-and-5 from the Miami 40-yard line. Tagovailoa’s pass was intercepted by Chiefs safety Mike Edwards at the Kansas City 42-yard line, bringing Mahomes and company back on the field.

Mahomes was incomplete to Rice on first down. A play later, the two connected for 23 yards to the Miami 35. On the next play, Pacheco carried for 11 yards. The drive appeared to have stalled after Kelce could not bring in a pass and Rice appeared tackled just shy of the line to gain on third down. After head coach Andy Reid challenged the spot, Rice was ruled to have made the line to gain, continuing the drive. Pacheco took a direct snap for four yards before being held to no gain on second down. The first quarter came to an end with the Chiefs facing third-and-6 from their own 10-yard line.

Second quarter

The second quarter opened with Mahomes picking up a low snap and throwing the ball away. Butker was true on a 28-yard field goal to extend the Chiefs’ lead to 10-0.

Butker’s kickoff sent on the ground for 46 yards. Fullback Alec Ingold picked the ball up and returned it to the Miami 38-yard line to start the drive. Tyreek Hill finally had a catch in his return to Arrowhead, taking a short pass for nine yards. On the next play, however, the former Chiefs ran past cornerback Trent McDuffie to bring in a 53-yard touchdown to trim Kansas City’s lead to 10-7.

Chenal took another short kickoff to the 32-yard line, but a blocking penalty began the drive at the Chiefs 20-yard line. On first down, Mahomes found Kelce for a 23-yard gain. The league’s best tight end continued an alarming trend of dropped passes on the next play, but Mahomes found Rice and Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the next to plays to move the ball into Dolphin territory. The Chiefs had an opportunity on the next set of downs to be their own worst enemy, as a trick play to Hardman on third-and-1 lost three yards. Mahomes ran from the pocket on fourth down for a 28-yard gain to the Miami 10-yard line. Two plays later, Rice appeared to have his second touchdown of the game, but right tackle Jawaan Taylor was flagged for a block in the back penalty, setting up second-and-goal from the 18-yard line. A pass to Justin Watson gained ten yards back, but Mahomes’ third-down pass was deflected. Butker’s 26-yard field goal extended the Chiefs’ lead to 13-7.

Kickoff woes continued as Braxton Berrios picked up the ball at the five-yard line and returned it 30 yards to start the Dolphins’ next drive. Mostert gained eight yards on first down before gaining a new set of downs on his next carry. Mostert carried two more times on the next two snaps, setting up third-and-2 from the Kansas City 44-yard line. Tagovailoa called for Miami’s first time out, before missing Mostert on a short pass to set up fourth down. McDuffie got the best of Hill this time, forcing an incompletion and returning the ball to Kansas City.

A pass to Kelce immediately brought the drive into Miami territory. Pacheco could only gain a yard on the next play. On third down, A deep pass to Hardman appeared hindered by a certain defensive holding penalty, but shockingly, no flag was thrown. Townsend’s punt went into the end zone, starting the Dolphins at their own 20-yard line.

A two-yard Achane carry and pass to Hill for no gain quickly brought the two-minute warning with the Dolphins facing third-and-8 from their own 22-yard line. On the other side of the break, a false start penalty on Hill moved the ball five yards back. On third-and-13, George Karlaftis sacked Tagovailoa for a seven-yard loss. Bailey’s punt was downed at the Kansas City 39-yard line, starting a Chiefs drive with 1:43 remaining in the half.

The possession started with a defensive holding call giving the Chiefs five free yards. The drive appeared set to stall after a false start by Taylor on third-and-5 forced them five yards back. Mahomes found Rice, however, for 39 yards. Unfortunately, the Chiefs could not move the chains again, and Butker came on for his third field goal attempt. He was good from 32 yards, extending the Chiefs’ lead to 16-7.

Berrios returned the kickoff to the 31-yard line. Tagovailioa made the last 14 seconds of the half interesting, finding Waddle near midfield. After a 10-yard penalty, the half came to an end with the Dolphins’ quarterback throwing an incomplete deep pass.

Third quarter

Butker again could not find the end zone on the kickoff, but Berrios was only able to return the kick to the Miami 21-yard line to start the second half. The Dolphins went three-and-out. Richie James fielded Bailey’s punt at the 26-yard line but stepped out of bounds after only gaining a yard.

Starting at his own 27-yard line, Mahomes had his pass batted down on first down before finding tight end Noah Gray for a 21-yard gain. A two-yard loss by Pacheco was followed by a 13-yard pass to Kelce. Two plays later Mahomes found Rice to move the chains, but the talented rookie stayed down on the field injured before walking off the field with training staff. On the next play, all 11 Chief players appeared to push Edwards-Helaire for a 12-yard gain. The Chiefs misread the play clock, and had to use their first timeout of the half. On the other side of the break, Kelce took a short pass for four yards before Mahomes scrambled for 13 yards to the Dolphin’s three-yard line, having a piece of his helmet fly off in the process. Kansas City’s red zone woes, continued, as they could not gain the final three yards. Butker came on for another field goal. His 21-yard field goal extended the Chiefs’ lead to 19-7.

Butker nailed the touchback, starting the Dolphins at the 25-yard line. The Dolphins appeared set for another three-and-out before Achane was able to convert a fourth-and-inches opportunity. The next set of downs was disastrous for the Dolphins as Karlaftis sacked Tagovailoa for a second time. Bailey’s punt was downed at the 28-yard line to start the Chiefs’ next drive.

Pacheco started the drive with a three-yard loss. On the next play, Dolphins safety Brandon Jones was flagged for roughing the passer, giving the Chiefs 15 yards and a first down. On the next play, Mahomes found Watson at midfield for another first down. Pacheco gained five yards before Mahomes failed to connect with James, with another defensive penalty appearing to go uncalled. Mahomes and James connected for a first down play on the next snap. The third quarter came to an end with Pacheco carrying for one yard, setting up second-and-9 from the Miami 38-yard line on the other side of the break.

Fourth quarter

Pacheco appeared to have converted the first down to start the final frame, only to see a 13-yard gain erased by a holding penalty on Trey Smith. On second-and-19, Mahomes found Rice for a 29-yard gain. The next set of downs went very badly for the Chiefs as an Edwards-Helaire rush for no gain was followed with Mahomes being called for intentional grounding. On third-and-20, Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was called for roughing the passer, giving the Chiefs a first down at the 13-yard line. Two Pacheco carries and then a heroic effort by Edwards-Helaire on a short pass set up first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Pacheco took a direct snap for a touchdown. Butker’s extra point extended the Chiefs’ lead to 26-7.

A touchback started the Dolphins at the 25. Tagovailoa overthrew Waddle deep on first down before finding Hill for six yards on the next play. Before the third-and-4, the Dolphins could not beat the play clock and were flagged for delay of game. Backed five yards deeper, the Dolphins finally converted a third down as Tagovailoa found Cedrick Wilson to move the chains. A pass to River Cracraft moved the Dolphins in to Kansas City territory to the 36-yard line. Two plays later, Tagovailoa ran for 14 yards for another first down. The quarterback was unable to connect with Hill in the end zone, with L’Jarius Sneed narrowly missing an interception. Another incompletion bounced off of an offensive lineman’s helmet. Tagovailoa threw behind the line of scrimmage on third down, and McDuffie nailed Hill for a six-yard loss. A fourth-and-16 pass to Wilson gained only eight yards, giving the Chiefs the ball back at their own 23-yard line.

The Chiefs went three-and-out after two short Pacheco carries were followed by an incomplete deep pass to Valdes-Scantling. Townsend’s 45-yard punt was fair caught by Berrios at the Miami 29-yard line.

The Dolphins gained only four yards on their first three plays before converting a fourth down to the 42-yard line. Three plays later, Waddle caught a 14-yard pass for yet another fourth down conversion. After three incompletions, Tagovailoa nearly found Hill on the sideline to continue the drive, but the top tier receiver could not reel in the pass, giving the Chiefs possession at their own 44-yard line with 3:44 remaining.

Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire each recorded a six-yard carry on the first two plays. Edwards-Helaire carried for no gain on a first down from the Miami 44-yard line, bringing the second half to the two minute warning. He followed a three-yard gain after the break by losing a yard and losing a fumble, giving Miami a possession at their own 46.

A pass to Achane went for 11 yards before the next pass to the running back falling incomplete. Passes to Cracraft and tight end Durham Smythe brought the clock to triple zeros, ending the Dolphins’ season and extending the Chiefs’ for at least another week. Kansas City will need to wait for the conclusion of Monday’s rescheduled matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers to learn their next opponent — and the location of their Divisional Round contest.


Wide receiver Rashee Rice left with training staff after running out of bounds in the third quarter. He was reported to have not entered the medical tent but was treated by staff on the bench. Rice returned for Kansas City’s next offensive series.

Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi was ruled out with an elbow injury.

Reserve linebacker Cam Jones was announced as questionable to return with a chest injury.

Special Teams

On a night the weather clearly affected kickoffs, kicker Harrison Butker was perfect, nailing a pair of extra points and four field goals. He was good on attempts from 28, 26, 32, and 21 yards.

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