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By: Jared Sapp
Kansas City is hosting Jacksonville in the AFC’s Divisional Round.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ postseason run opens on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Holding the AFC’s top seed (and first-round bye) after finishing the season with a 14-3 record, the Chiefs face the AFC South champion Jaguars after Jacksonville edged the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30 in last weekend’s Wild Card round.
The winner of the game will advance to the AFC Championship next weekend against the winner of Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. It would be Jacksonville’s fourth trip to the conference championship since the franchise was founded in 1995. Kansas City is trying for its sixth appearance in an AFC title game — and its fifth in as many seasons.
Patrick Mahomes’ long-awaited return to the playoffs would wait, as the Chiefs won the coin toss and deferred. Harrison Butker sent the ball to the end zone — and the Jaguars would begin the Division Round at their own 25-yard line.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was incomplete to wide receiver Christian Kirk on first down. On second down, he found running back Travis Etienne in motion for a six-yard gain. On third-and-4, Lawrence escaped pressure — and nearly threw an interception. The Jaguars went three-and-out.
Jaguars punter Logan Cooke sent the ball 58 yards deep. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney returned the ball to the Chiefs’ 17-yard line to start the drive.
Running back Isiah Pacheco began the drive with a 12-yard rush. Mahomes then found Travis Kelce on consecutive downs to bring the ball near midfield. Pacheco took the Chiefs into Jaguars’ territory with a five-yard gain. From the opponent 45-yard line, Mahomes found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a first down, and then Kadarius Toney to set up second-and-1 at the 21-yard line. A five-yard carry from running back Jerick McKinnon brought the drive into the red zone.
The Jaguars called a timeout to avoid a call for 12 men on the field. On first down, Mahomes found himself under pressure and threw the ball away. Pacheco took the second-down carry to the Jaguars’ 14 to set up Kansas City’s first third-down play. Mahomes found a leaping Kelce to force first-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The two could not connect on first down, however, as Mahomes overthrew Kelce in the red zone. Kelce’s fourth catch of the drive on the next play advanced into the end zone for a Chiefs touchdown. Butker was true on the extra-point attempt to open the scoring at 7-0 Chiefs.
Kick returner Jamal Agnew took Butker’s second kickoff in the end zone — and returned it 66 yards to start Jacksonville’s second drive at the Chiefs’ 39-yard line. Lawrence found Kirk for a seven-yard gain on first down. Agnew caught the next pass to set up third-and-1 from the 30. Etienne then burst through to the Kansas City 11-yard line on a 19-yard gain. After a short gain on first down, Lawrence completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kirk. Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson’ evened the score at 7-7 with a successful extra point.
The Chiefs began their second drive at the 25-yard line after another touchback. Mahomes was flushed from the pocket on first down and scrambled for a six-yard gain — and a defensive holding penalty added five yards and netted a new set of downs. Toney gained six yards on first down — but Kelce was tackled behind the line of scrimmage on second down to set up third-and-6. Mahomes eluded pressure before throwing a bullet to a diving Justin Watson to bring the drive back into Jacksonville territory. On the next play, Mahomes was hit after making a four-yard pass to tight end Blake Bell. A noticeably limping Mahomes forced the Chiefs to call a time-out.
McKinnon took handoffs on the next to plays to set up a first down at the 39. After a seven-yard pass to Kelce, the first quarter ended with Mahomes limping to the sideline with second-and-3 looming.
Coming out of the break, Mahomes was shown getting his ankle taped. The second quarter began with Skyy Moore taking a short pass for no gain. Mahomes was incomplete on third-down to set up a 50-yard field goal attempt by Butker. The much-maligned kicker sent the ball straight through the middle to give the Chiefs a 10-7 lead.
Agnew did not have a chance at a return as Butker forced a touchback. Starting from their own 25-yard line, a pass to Etienne gained nine yards, before a Lawrence sneak netted the first down. JaMycal Hasty then carried for a 23-yard gain to the Chiefs’ 40. Lawrence found tight end Evan Engram to bring the drive to the 30. After a five-yard first-down throw to Zay Jones, Jaguars’ left tackle Walker Little was called for tripping — bringing the Jaguars back to the 35-yard line. On second-and-15, Frank Clark dropped Lawrence for a four-yard sack. Lawrence was incomplete on third down. Cook’s punt was downed at the two-yard line. Meanwhile, a very frustrated Mahomes was seen leaving the Chiefs’ sideline to enter the locker room.
Chad Henne entered the game at quarterback, and Kelce caught his first pass for five yards. Pacheco then carried to the 16-yard line — and then to the 23 after a first-down carry. Henne’s next pass was tipped and nearly intercepted. On third down, Henne was complete to Toney to start a new set of downs at the 30 — as Mahomes returned to the sideline wearing his helmet. A short pass to Kelce and a designed run by Skyy Moore forced third-and-3. The play would have to wait as the Chiefs’ used their second timeout of the half.
Henne was complete on a throw to Kelce — who stretched for the yard to gain. A roughing-the-passer call against Jaguars defensive lineman Arden Key added 15 yards to the play. Henne was incomplete to Bell on first down. Pacheco then turned what appeared to be no gain into a monster carry to the four-yard line. The rookie then brought the ball to the one-yard line — and the Chiefs capped a backup quarterback-led 98-yard drive by finding Kelce for his second touchdown. A false-start penalty forced Butker to kick the extra point twice — and he was successful from both distances to extend the Chiefs’ lead to 17-7.
The Jaguars started at their own 25 for consecutive drives. An option play from Lawrence to Etienne began the drive with a six-yard gain. The second-year back promptly gained six more for a new set of downs at the Jacksonville 36. Lawrence then attempted a deep shot to Kirk — but the two were not able to connect deep in Chiefs’ territory. Etienne gained four yards to set up third-and-six — and the two-minute warning.
Lawrence and Kirk connected coming out of the break — bringing the ball inside Chiefs’ territory to the 45. Another pass to Kirk and a quick pass to Hasty put the Jaguars at the Kansas City 31. A pair of four-yard gains brought up third-and-2 at the Chiefs’ 23. Lawrence was then incomplete to Kirk. Patterson came on for a successful 41-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs’ lead to 17-10.
A touchback gave the ball back to Kansas City with only 24 seconds remaining in the half. Henne kneeled to end the half with the Chiefs leading 17-10.
Pacheco let the second half kickoff roll into the end zone to start the Chiefs at their own 25. The crowd came to life chanting “MVP” as Mahomes reentered the game. The first play of the half was a three-yard carry by Pacheco. He found Kelce to set up third-and-1. The face of the league’s mobility was noticeably awkward as he scrambled for the first down. A McKinnon carry for no gain and an incomplete pass quickly brought on third-and-long. Mahomes was incomplete deep to Kelce to bring on punter Tommy Townsend for his first appearance of the day. Agnew took the kick at the six-yard line and advanced to the 15 to start Jacksonville’s first drive of the second half.
Hasty began the drive with a five-yard carry. A short run by and short pass to Etienne then moved the chains. On the next play. Etienne barreled for a 12-yard gain. After he gained three more yards on the next play, Lawrence nearly threw an interception under heavy pressure from Khalen Saunders. On third-and-7, Kirk could not get to Lawrence’s short pass, forcing a Cooke punt. Toney caught the ball at the 14-yard line — and then moved to the 20 to start the next Chiefs’ drive.
The second consecutive possession began with a three-yard Pacheco carry — before the rookie caught a pass on the next play to set up 3rd-and-inches. Chiefs coach Andy Reid then challenged the spot.
The challenge was unsuccessful, and the Chiefs again lined up for third down. A direct snap to tight end Noah Gray came up short on the sneak. Townsend came on for his second punt of the half. Agnew called for a fair catch at the Jacksonville 11.
Hasty escaped several tackles to gain four yards on first down. A pair of throws to Engram advanced the drive to the 24. On first down, L’Jarius Sneed denied Agnew, stopping the speedster for only a two-yard gain. Clark then stopped Engram behind the line of scrimmage to set up third-and-12 from the 22-yard line. Lawrence did not find Kirk on third down, forcing the fourth punt of a thus far scoreless quarter. Toney took the kick at the 28-yard line before an 11-yard return started the Chiefs at their own 39-yard line.
On first down, Mahomes completed his longest pass of the game to Gray, bringing the ball to the Jacksonville 34. The drive stalled, however. McKinnon only gained a yard on first down — and two passes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling fell incomplete. On the second, the receiver was called for offensive pass interference, setting up 3rd-and-19 at the 43. Mahomes found Kelce to bring the Chiefs back into field goal range — and Butker nailed his second 50-yard try of the day to extend the Chiefs lead to 20-10 with eight seconds remaining in the quarter.
Agnew took the kick out of the end zone — but only advanced to the 25 this time. The third quarter came to a close with Derrick Nnadi sacking Lawrence for an eight-yard loss.
On second-and-18 to start the final quarter, Lawrence was complete to Jones for a 12-yard gain. Lawrence eluded pressure to carry the ball for 11 yards to the 40 — and a new set of downs. Etienne gained five yards on first down, but a false start penalty brought the Jaguars back to second-and-9. Lawrence made his best throw of the day — finding Jones for a 37-yard gain to the Chiefs’ 22. Kirk then took a reverse 18 yards to the Chiefs’ four-yard line to set up first-and-goal. Entiene punched the ball in on the next play for a Jacksonville touchdown. Patterson was good on the extra point to trim the Chiefs’ lead to 20-17.
Patrick Mahomes came up limping after taking a hit in the second quarter. He did not initially come out of the game but had his ankle taped on the sideline. In the second quarter, backup Chad Henne came into the game as Mahomes went into the locker room. He was announed as questionable to return to the game with the ankle injury. Mahomes took the field to begin the second half.
Harrison Butker was successful on a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter. He then hit from the same distance late in the third quarter.
Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride