What. A. Game. Kansas City looked to be burning up after one quarter of football, but the city is now burning down, having come back from a 24-0 deficit to clinch their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance. The game was one of the most incredible and ridiculous ones in recent memory, so let’s get into it.
The Houston Texans came out playing conservative to start the game, but Watson had a hard time coming to terms with how open Kenny Stills was, punishing the Chiefs defensive breakdown with a 54-yard score to get the scoreboard going. Kansas seemed unable to find the gas pedal on the ensuing drive, with TE Travis Kelce dropping an uncontested pass to convert 3rd down.
This led to a blocked punt as Barkevious Mingo speared through the middle of the line to get a hand on the ball, which Lonnie Johnson then recovered for a TD to make it a 2-score game. With less than 5 minutes played, things already looked bleak for Kansas City. After a short 6-play drive, capped off by another open drop on 3rd down (this one by Robinson), they were forced to attempt another punt.
Watson was leading another successful Houston drive until a blown-up checkdown, pressured incompletion, and a sack took them out of field goal range. The punt was fumbled at the 9-yard line by Tyreek Hill and, to make matters worse, the Texans recovered it with only 6 yards to go for a TD. They followed through, with a curl route by TE Darren Fells bearing fruit for the offense.
Now up 21-0 in the 1st quarter, Houston was soaring. Mecole Hardman muffed the ensuing kickoff, but recovered to return possession to the 19-yard line. Two more wide-open drops, followed by a hit on Tyreek Hill that forced the incompletion, led to another punt. Narrowly avoiding another block, punter Dustin Colquitt was still able to boot it to the opposing 38, though it was returned to the 50.
The Texans had the field position, but a short, largely ineffective drive led to a field goal to put them up 24-0. After only 19:06, Houston were bullying the highest remaining seed in the AFC playoffs, including scoring their first 2 TDs within 2 minutes of each other. The Chiefs needed something flip the momentum. Immediately. That play came in the form of a massive kickoff return by Hardman, from the 1 to the opposing 42 (a whopping 57-yarder). In 2 plays, a 25-yard crossing route to Kelce and a 17-yard TD on a swing pass to RB Damien Williams, Kansas City was finally on the board.
A three-and-out, capped by a Watson miss on WR Will Fuller and a failed fake punt on 4th-and-4, put the ball back in Patrick Mahomes’ hands in great field position. Lonnie Johnson interfered with Kelce deep, putting the ball at the 5-yard line, and Mahomes threaded it to his favorite TE for another score. With 2 scores in under 2 minutes, the game was afoot. A timely hit on DeAndre Carter popped the ball out for KC, which they brought back to Houston’s 6-yard line.
3 plays later, Kelce nabbed his 2nd TD and KC’s 3rd in 3:24. A short drive fizzled and died again for Houston and Kansas was in position to do some damage. Big plays by Mahomes, Hill, and Mahomes again (assisted by Johnson once again committing PI) eventually led to a 3rd consecutive short Mahomes-Kelce TD. Now up 28-24, Arrowhead stadium was rioting. A big play by DeAndre Hopkins wasn’t enough to get Houston a score at the half, so it stood. With 28 straight points, Kansas City had come back.
Three. That’s how many more drives each team would have before the Chiefs finally stopped pouring on the hurt. An NFL postseason record 7-consecutive TD drives would bury Houston: well and truly. Houston eventually learned to answer the 41 points put up on the board by Patrick Mahomes and his crew, with a designed QB run to the corner for a 5-yard TD. It was too little too late, as KC ran the clock for the rest of the game, still managing to put up another 10 points as they did so. The final score, all told, was 51-31.
It’s going to be a long offseason for Texans fans as they figure out exactly what went wrong here, and if they can come back from it after such a promising start to the postseason.