Kansas City Chiefs Win Thriller With Help of Unlikely Hero at Quarterback

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns, 22-17, in the AFC Divisional round Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the game during the third quarter with a concussion, and he didn't return.

Chad Henne entered the game to guide the Chiefs to a field goal and 22-10 lead. Then, late in the game, Henne made two plays that helped the Chiefs hang on.

Kansas City advances to the AFC Championship next Sunday (1/24/21) to face the Buffalo Bills. It will be the third-consecutive season the Chiefs have hosted the AFC title game. It will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday on CBS. The status of Mahomes for that game is unknown at this time.

Mahomes was hit by Cleveland linebacker Mack Wilson while running the ball during an option play during the third quarter, and Mahomes was slow to get up.

When team officials brought Mahomes to his feet, the quarterback was wobbly, and needed a little assistance to get to the sideline. He was later ruled out of the game because of a concussion and he never returned.

Chad Henne Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Chad Henne #4 of the Kansas City Chiefs signals at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium on January 17, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Chad Henne was brought in to replace Mahomes, and he guided the Chiefs downfield for a field goal to give Kansas City a 22-10 lead with 4:28 to play in the third quarter.

Cleveland scored a touchdown to make the score 22-17, and they needed either a stop, a turnover or a Kansas City field goal to have a chance at a dramatic comeback. Things looked good when Cleveland sacked Henne to set up a 3rd-and-14 at their own 35-yard line.

On the next play, Henne scrambled 13 yards to set up a 4th-and-1. Henne called a pass play, and he connected with Tyreek Hill for 5 yards and a first down, and Henne just kneeled on the ball to end the game from that point.

The Browns were playing perhaps their most important playoff game in a quarter of a century against one of the best teams in that same span. The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champs and the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy again next month in Tampa.

The Browns trailed by 13 points, but were driving the field late in the first half. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield tossed a deep pass to Rashard Higgins, who caught it and raced toward the right corner of the end zone. As Higgins dove with outstretched arms, Kansas City defender Daniel Sorensen dove to knock the ball free, and the ball tumbled through the end zone.

The game official declared it a fumble through the end zone, which resulted in a touchback. The play went to a review, and it was confirmed on the replay booth.

However, CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore was asked about the play, and he deemed that Sorensen should have been called for a personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit—or a targeting call—that would have given Cleveland the ball inside the 1-yard line.

Kansas City led the game, 16-3, at the time, and a Cleveland touchdown could have potentially made it 16-10 late in the half.

Instead, Kansas City got the ball back, marched into Browns territory and Harrison Butker booted a 28-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 19-3 lead going into the half. The sequence of events gave Kansas City more momentum, and seemed to deflate the Browns.

Cleveland received the ball to open the second half, but Mayfield threw an interception to Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu. Butker missed a field goal to end the drive, though.