Sunday was all about the Chiefs and it was a game we will never forget. To go from nothing going the Chiefs’ way to everything going the Chiefs’ way felt strange. It usually goes the other way. But this time it went in favor of the Chiefs. It just feels like the Chiefs’ year.
Here is your daily Dr. Feelgood…
CHIEFS (51) VS TEXANS (31)
Where do I start? Early on, every part of the team struggled. Special teams were terrible allowing a blocked punt and muffing a punt return. Patrick Mahomes’ receivers couldn’t hold on to the easiest of catches. Sure, some passes were a little behind them, so Mahomes was also part of the struggle, but the receivers still need to catch those passes. The secondary had a miscommunication on the Texan’s first possession and left Kenny Stills wide open for a 54-yard touchdown reception.
With each touchdown the Texans scored, Chiefs fans were more and more frustrated, no pissed, that this team was doing what they always do. They can be the best team in the league in the regular season, not this season but that’s beside the point, and lose big in the playoffs to a mediocre team like Houston.
At one point the Arrowhead faithful were expressing their frustration with the way the team was playing. They deserved to express their anger. This team was too good to go out of the playoffs like that. They couldn’t do the simplest things they had done all season.
Some, however, were holding out hope for a comeback. I tried to stay positive throughout the game. Even when the Chiefs were down 21-0, I thought they could still win the game. They just had to outscore the Houston Texans by seven points in each of the last three quarters to at least send the game into overtime.
I understand the concern for Chiefs fans. This franchise had let them down so many times in the past. Other teams had come back from large deficits in the playoffs but it never happened to the Chiefs. It was always someone else.
Even after the Texans kicked a field goal to make it 24-0 I thought the Chiefs had a chance. They simply had to start catching the ball. The receivers were open. They weren’t dropping contested passes. These were easy chances that the Chiefs were just letting the bright lights of the big stage keep them from doing what they had been doing all season.
Everything changed though with one play with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. Rookie wide receiver and kick returner Mecole Hardman received a kickoff at the goal line and returned it 58 yards to the Houston 42. The Chiefs were still down 24 points but we finally saw something we recognized. A long return from a speedster looked familiar.
Two plays later the Chiefs were in the end zone. A 25-yard pass to Travis Kelce and then a 17-yard pass to Damien Williams had the Chiefs on the scoreboard. We recognized that! That was the team we have been watching this season. No, that was the team we saw last season. The offense, because of so many injuries, had not made things look so easy since Week 1 against Jacksonville. But this two-play scoring drive looked familiar. If scoring could be so easy then maybe the Chiefs weren’t out of it. Maybe they had a chance.
On the very next possession, the Texans decided to help out the Chiefs. On 4th-and-4 from their own 31, the Texans decided to try a fake punt. Instead of giving the ball right back to the Chiefs after it looked like the Chiefs had remembered how to catch a pass, the Texans thought they could rip the momentum right back to their side with a successful fake punt. The problem was that they didn’t understand just how good Daniel Sorensen can be. Sorensen tackled Justin Reid for a 2-yard gain. That’s two yards less than what he needed. So the Chiefs got the ball at the Houston 33.
Three Patrick Mahomes passes later the Chiefs scored another touchdown and the Texans lead was down to 24-14 with 8:05 left in the half. I turned to my wife and said that if the defense can get another stop the Chiefs could cut the lead to single digits going into the half. There was no denying at this point that the offense was starting to click and would be able to put up a lot of points in this game.
Well, the ensuing kick off went even better than could have been expected. Deandre Carter caught the kickoff at the goal line and tried to do his best Mecole Hardman impersonation. Unfortunately for the Texans, Daniel Sorensen also plays on the kickoff team and when he hit Carter the ball popped up right into the hands of Darwin Thompson who took the ball to the Houston 6.
Once again, three plays later, Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the end zone and the Chiefs were down just 24-21 with 6:31 left in the half. In less than four minutes the Chiefs went from down 24 points to down 3 points. And it wasn’t over.
The Chiefs forced Houston to punt once again and got the ball back with 2:47 left in the half at their own ten. If you look at the play-by-play for this next drive it’s kind of funny. Every play starts with “P. Mahomes pass” or “P. Mahomes scrambles” and the result was a 5-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with 44 seconds left in the half. The Chiefs went 90 yards on the drive to take the lead.
The Chiefs had done it. They overcame a 24-0 deficit. What’s amazing is that they didn’t do that over the course of the last three quarters. They did it by the end of the half!
And the scoring just continued in the second half. The Chiefs ended up scoring on eight consecutive possessions, four touchdowns to end the first half, three touchdowns to start the second half, and then a field goal.
At the end of the game, the scoreboard showed Kansas City 51 and Houston 31. It was the most amazing thing any Chiefs fan has probably ever seen.
So how did all of this happen? Well, Daniel Sorensen was huge. The tackle on the fake punt and the hit to force a fumble on a kick off return were just two plays that were huge for the team. Those plays made the comeback possible. Sorensen ended with nine tackles to lead the team.
The offensive line was terrific all day. Patrick Mahomes was never in trouble. Occasionally, although rarely, there was slight pressure but Mahomes would just roll out and complete another pass. Mahomes ended up completing 23 of 35 passes (66%) for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once. And maybe the biggest surprise was his seven rushes for 53 yards. Those were unexpected and huge in the game.
Travis Kelce, who injured his hamstring in the first half and didn’t return until the Chiefs’ second possession of the second half, had ten receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns. We won’t know more about his injury until tomorrow or later in the week.
Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was the first score of the game for the Chiefs.
Frank Clark was worth every penny the Chiefs are paying him with his four tackles and three sacks. On one rush, Clark ran 42.2 yards to track down Deshaun Watson for a sack! That’s right. He sacked Watson after Watson avoided him a couple of times. Clark never gave up. He was terrific in this game.
There were so many good things that happened that I could probably name something that every player did in this game to help the team win but then this piece would be three times as long as it is now.
Let’s just say that the Chiefs were terrible before they were outstanding. And now they host the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row. It feels like this is the year for the Chiefs to finally win the Lamar Hunt trophy. Tennessee won’t be easy but Chiefs fans wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.
NFL HALL OF FAME
Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Sunday during halftime of the Seattle vs Green Bay
WHAT TO WATCH
#1 LSU and #3 Clemson battle in the College Football Playoffs championship game at 7 pm on ESPN. LSU is led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Clemson is led by QB Trevor Lawrence who has never lost a college football game. This should be a good one.
PODCAST: The Sunday podcast is now available. I talk about the crazy Chiefs win over the Texans, the local hoops games from this past weekend, and much more! Subscribe to the Kansas City Sports Monitor podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
DROP ME A NOTE: You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @KCSportsMonitor. I would love to hear from you. Send me your comments and questions and I might include them in a future column or podcast.
STAY INFORMED: If you haven’t already signed up for email updates please consider it. Things are changing a lot right now and I would like to keep you informed of all of the latest changes.
Thanks for reading…