It started out like yet another Kansas City Chiefs playoff debacle before their home Arrowhead Stadium faithful, even resulting in a smattering of unthinkable boos before the fans had barely settled into their seats.
The Chiefs were a bundle of nerves and thumbs in the first quarter, dropping passes, breaking down on punt protection and fumbling a punt to gift-wrap Houston two of its three first-quarter touchdowns as Arrowhead turned into a library where whispering is not even allowed.
CBS, of course, made note of posting a fact about the Chiefs’ home playoff failures. And Andy Reid’s playoff flops have been well documented.
The Texans were about to apply the dagger early in the second quarter when coach Bill O’Brien opted for a field goal on fourth down and just a few feet to go. It did make it a four-possession game at 24-0 and quite honestly with the flow of the proceedings at that point, that lead seemed insurmountable.
But Mecole Hardman returned the ensuing kickoff deep into Houston territory and the Chiefs scored shortly after.
Then came a call by O’Brien that he’ll certainly lose sleep over for the next several weeks.
With a 24-7 lead and his team controlling the game, he went for a fake punt on his side of the 50 that, quite honestly, looked like it was there. But Chiefs defensive back Daniel Sorenson snuffed it out and in essence, saved the season.
Kansas City again scored right after that. It kept scoring and scoring and scoring, while the Chiefs battened down the hatches defensively and flipped the game 44 points, going from 24 down to 20 up in a 51-31 victory.
So now the Chiefs are on the brink, for the second year in a row, of playing in their third Super Bowl. Remember, they were a Dee Ford offsides call away from playing the Rams last year as New England wound up breaking the hearts of every Chiefs fan.
If this game doesn’t give the Chiefs’ offense confidence, nothing will. It took only 9 minutes to wipe out the 24-point deficit and quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on fire. Once they stopped dropping passes, the Chiefs moved the ball unbated and scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions. And they did it quickly as Houston had the ball nearly 35 minutes to 25 for KC, but the Chiefs were making gains in chunks as there was very little grinding. Mahomes threw for 321 yards and ran for 53 to be the Chiefs’ leading rusher.
I thought to myself when it was 24-0 that the Chiefs once led Baltimore 38-10, only to lose. I had a feeling if they got out of their own way, they could make a run if they could ever get stops.
These aren’t the Alex Smith Chiefs, Trent Green Chiefs or any other quarterback you want to name outside of Lenny Dawson. These Chiefs know with Mahomes at the helm, they’re never out of any game. He added to his legacy with a 28-point second quarter, the second time he’s done that this year as he earlier had burned the rival Oakland Raiders for 28 by the Bay.
Unlike many of you, I was around when the Chiefs played in Super Bowls I and IV. I was a young whippersnapper back then, as I don’t remember that much about their game with the Packers, but I fondly recall the 23-7 win over Minnesota when Otis Taylor capped the outcome by high-stepping down the sideline on an out pattern after he broken a tackle. At the time, I didn’t realize the Chiefs would go at least a half-century, and counting, without making it again.
Now they have to defeat Tennessee at Arrowhead to advance, which pulled a stunner of its own by eliminating high-flying Baltimore, the Super Bowl favorite when the NFL playoffs started. Not only did the Titans win, they dominated.
But KC is on its avenge tour. It avenged an earlier loss to Houston and now it wants to do the same next week as it lost 35-32 in Tennessee after leading late. Arrowhead is going to be a madhouse and hopefully the Chiefs get off to a better start than Sunday.
But at least they now know they can overcome all odds.