I won’t lie, I picked Kansas City to win this game, but I’ll miss seeing this Jaguars team play in these playoffs. Unfortunately, even a hobbled Patrick Mahomes couldn’t help Jacksonville extend their playoff run beyond this evening.
Even though the result always felt like a foregone conclusion, there were a few moments when it looked like the Jaguars could pull off the unthinkable. When Arden Key fell on Patrick Mahomes’ ankle on the Chiefs’ second drive of the game, there was a collective gasp throughout Arrowhead.
The Chad Henne came into the game and led the Chiefs on their longest playoff touchdown drive. Henne found Travis Kelce for his second touchdown to ease the minds of the Chiefs Kingdom, even with Mahomes in the locker room.
Mahomes would return, but he was a shell of himself with just flashes of his usual brilliance under center as he played on a heavily taped ankle.
But it was Kelce who made the difference today. The All-Pro tight end caught 14 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Kelce’s 14 touchdowns are a record for tight ends in the postseason; his performance was an x-factor for the Chiefs.
Jacksonville hung around, and they’ll be back, but their magic ran out tonight. We haven’t seen the last of Trevor Lawrence vs. Patrick Mahomes in the AFC playoffs, but Part I goes to Mahomes, and the Chiefs are back in the AFC Championship.
1. Mahomes to Kelce; Rinse and Repeat
Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce looked like a well-oiled machine on the Chiefs’ opening drive. I said on Friday that exploiting Jacksonville’s inability to cover opposing tight ends would be a path to victory for the Chiefs, and like clockwork:
Mahomes and Kelce hooked up four times on the opening drive for 35 yards (8.8 yards per catch) and a touchdown.
2. Lawrence Strikes Back
After a Jacksonville punt on the game’s opening drive and a touchdown drive for the Chiefs, the Jaguars needed an answer. Trevor Lawrence had it for them.
Lawrence and the Jaguars took advantage of a long kick return by Jamal Agnew and put together a five-play, 39-yard touchdown drive. The score for Jacksonville was a 10-yard touchdown pass by Lawrence to Christian Kirk to even it up at seven-a-piece.
The 10-yard score was a much-needed stop to the momentum that Kansas City had built on the previous drive. I said on Friday in the preview that Jacksonville couldn’t spot Kansas City multiple scores early if they had any shot.
3. Mahomes Goes Down, Chiefs Keep Chugging
Everyone at Arrowhead had their hands over their faces when Mahomes grabbed for his ankle after a hit by Arden Key. Mahomes would limp for a few plays before leaving the game to head to the locker room. Mahomes’ exit made way for Chade Henne.
Here’s the play:
But somehow, Kansas City kept on chugging along. After a field goal on Mahomes’ final drive of the first half, Henne didn’t skip a beat. The veteran backup took the Chiefs 98 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown to take a two-score lead.
Isiah Pacheco broke off a 40-yard run to do some of the heavy lifting on the drive for the Chiefs.
And then Henne found Travis Kelce for a touchdown, Kelce’s second of the game:
Kelce logged 10 catches for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half. Andy Reid stuck with the game plan to exploit the Jags’ struggles against tight ends in coverage, even without Mahomes under center.
4. Jamal Agnew Fumble
With a heavily taped ankle, Patrick Mahomes started the second half under center for the Chiefs. Still, Mahomes wasn’t, Mahomes. Even with this slick jump pass off the lone healthy ankle in the fourth quarter, he was noticeably hampered.
Mahomes’ injury and some excellent efforts by Jacksonville’s defense and Trevor Lawrence and company on offense made things interesting.
The Jaguars pulled to within three points once early in the fourth quarter. They almost did it again midway through the fourth. But Jamal Agnew made a costly fumble inside the Kansas City five yard line.
That was all she wrote in this one, and it’s a shame because Agnew played a big part in Jacksonville staying in this game that late.
I give the Jaguars all the credit in the world; they played a good game against a 14-win Chiefs team in a hostile environment. But, in the end, the magic just ran out for Jacksonville, as many of us knew it would this week.