Chiefs, Pack ad­vance in play­offs with vic­to­ries

Kansas City ral­lies from 24-0 hole to si­lence Tex­ans

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVE SKRETTA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pa­trick Ma­homes stalked up and down the side­line like a field mar­shal ral­ly­ing his troops, the bril­liant young quar­ter­back im­plor­ing the Kansas City Chiefs to stay to­gether even as the Hous­ton Tex­ans were on the verge of tak­ing them apart.

The Chiefs al­ready faced a 24-0 hole, big­ger than any deficit they had over­come in fran­chise his­tory.

“The big­gest thing I was preach­ing,” Ma­homes said later, “was, ‘Let’s go do some­thing spe­cial. Every­body is count­ing us out. Let’s go out there and play by play put it out there.’ And play by play, we did what we were sup­posed to do.”

Be­gin­ning with the first of his five touch­down passes, Ma­homes and the Chiefs slowly chipped away at Hous­ton’s seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able lead. They con­tin­ued to pick up mo­men­tum, outscor­ing the Tex­ans 28-0 dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter alone, and even­tu­ally reeled off 41 con­sec­u­tive points be­fore cruis­ing the rest of the way to a 51-31 vic­tory Sun­day that pro­pelled Kansas City back to the AFC cham­pi­onship game for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son.

In do­ing so, the Chiefs (13-4) be­came the first team in NFL his­tory to win a play­off game by at least 20 points af­ter trail­ing by at least 20. They matched the fourth-big­gest come­back in play­off his­tory while win­ning a post­sea­son game in back-to-back sea­sons for the first time. Travis Kelce and Damien Wil­liams scored three touch­downs apiece, join­ing the 49ers’ Jerry Rice and Ricky Waters in Su­per Bowl 29 as the only team­mates to score that many times in a post­sea­son game.

Mean­while, Ma­homes led by ex­am­ple as much as by voice. He fin­ished with 321 yards pass­ing, be­com­ing the first player in post­sea­son his­tory with at least 300 yards pass­ing and five touch­downs while run­ning for at least 50 more yards.

“You saw him go­ing up and down the bench, he was talk­ing to every­body, — ‘Just set­tle down,’” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “As a head coach, you can’t ask for more than that. When he’s the leader of your team and he’s go­ing, ‘Hey, we’re go­ing to be fine. Let’s not wait for the fourth quar­ter. Let’s go!’ And he did that.”

Now, af­ter los­ing to the Patriots in over­time in last year’s con­fer­ence ti­tle game, the Chiefs are back on the brink of their first Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ance in 50 years. They will host Ten­nessee next Sun­day in a re­match from ear­lier this sea­son af­ter the Ti­tans up­set La­mar Jack­son and the top-seeded Bal­ti­more Ravens on Satur­day night.

“We’ve al­ready played them and we know they’re a tough team,” Ma­homes said. “They’re a team that bat­tles all the way un­til the end. They’re a team that’s re­ally hot, play­ing re­ally good foot­ball right now, so we know it’s go­ing to take our best ef­fort. And, what­ever way, we’ve got to find a way to win.”

De­shaun Wat­son, mean­while, threw for 388 yards and two touch­downs while run­ning for an­other, but not even his hero­ics could bail out the Tex­ans (11-7) af­ter their calami­tous sec­ond quar­ter and dis­mal third. The re­sult: The re­born Hous­ton fran­chise is 0-4 in the di­vi­sional round and has never won a road play­off game.

“I def­i­nitely thought we were go­ing to have to score more than 24,” said Tex­ans coach Bill O’Brien, who made a series of de­bat­able calls dur­ing the col­lapse. “I think that they’re, ob­vi­ously, a very ex­plo­sive team and it just didn’t work out.”

The Chiefs cer­tainly gave Hous­ton a chance to end their frus­trat­ing play­off streak in the first quar­ter.

On de­fense, Kansas City blew cov­er­age on Kenny Stills on the open­ing pos­ses­sion, al­low­ing him to walk into the end zone from 54 yards. On of­fense, they wasted time­outs, dropped a series of easy passes and man­aged just 46 yards. And on spe­cial teams, the Chiefs had a punt blocked for a score and fum­bled a re­turn that set up an­other touch­down.

In­deed, the Tex­ans kept hum­ming right along af­ter fin­ish­ing on a 22-3 run to beat Buf­falo last week, while the moun­tain of mis­cues made by the Chiefs made them only the fourth home play­off team to trail 21-0 af­ter the first quar­ter.

Things turned around on a series of plays — and a call by O’Brien in par­tic­u­lar — that will be de­bated for a while.

As­so­ci­ated Press

HIGH STEP INTO THE END ZONE Kansas City Chiefs run­ning back Damien Wil­liams (26) scores a touch­down past Hous­ton Tex­ans safety Justin Reid (20) dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL di­vi­sional play­off foot­ball game in Kansas City, Mis­souri, on Sun­day. The Chiefs won 51-31 af­ter trail­ing 24-0 early in the first half.

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