JACKOSNVILLE, Fla. — Hobbling along on an injured ankle, Patrick Mahomes threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a 27-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and a spot in their fifth straight AFC title game.
Mahomes missed most of the second quarter after his ankle was landed on by a Jacksonville defender. But the All-Pro quarterback returned in the second half and, relying on guts and guile, led the Chiefs on a 75-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter that helped to ensure a date with the Bengals-Bills winner for a spot in the Super Bowl.
If Cincinnati wins Sunday, the AFC title game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium. If Buffalo wins, it will be in Atlanta.
Travis Kelce had a career-high 14 catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City. Isiah Pacheco ran for 95 yards, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling hauled in the eventual clinching touchdown with about 7 minutes left in the game.
The Jaguars, who rallied from a 27-0 deficit to beat the Chargers in the wild-card round, squandered two chances to mount another late rally. The first ended when Jamal Agnew had the ball pop loose inside the Chiefs 5 with about 5 1/2 minutes to go, and the second when Jaylen Watson made a leaping, one-handed interception to take the ball away again.
The Jaguars’ last-gasp chance ended when Kansas City recovered an onside kick with 24 seconds to go.
Lawrence finished with 217 yards passing with a touchdown toss to Christian Kirk, who was briefly hurt midway through the fourth quarter but returned to finish the game. Travis Etienne added 62 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Long before Mahomes hobbled to the sideline in pain, he was at his creative best, driving the Chiefs downfield on their opening possession. There was a shortstop-style sidearm sling to JuJu Smith-Schuster, a key third-down pass to Kelce as he was being dragged to the turf and the flip pass to his tight end that gave Kansas City a 7-0 lead.
The Jaguars came right back, taking advantage of a big kickoff return and a short field. Lawrence, whose four touchdown throws helped to stun the Chargers last week, proceeded to hit Kirk for the matching touchdown.
Mahomes was moving up in the pocket when Key brought the full weight of his body down on the star quarterback’s right ankle. Mahomes hobbled to the huddle and managed to get through three more plays to end the first quarter, then was on the field two more plays before Harrison Butker kicked a 50-yard field goal.
During the Jaguars’ ensuing possession, Mahomes — who had gotten his ankle taped — got into a heated argument with Chiefs coach Andy Reid and the training staff. He then threw down his coat and headed to the locker room, forcing Chad Henne to take over midway through the second quarter, much as he did two years ago in a playoff win over Cleveland.
The 37-year-old journeyman, who once started for the Jaguars, led Kansas City on a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive.
Then, the complexion of the game changed.
Mahomes cheered them on from the sideline, wearing a puffy winter coat on a cold, sleeting night at Arrowhead Stadium
Then the fans suddenly were cheering for him again.
That familiar red No. 15 jersey trotted onto the field to start the second half, his right ankle heavily taped. Mahomes was still struggling to move around, but simply his presence seemed to calm the Chiefs — and their angst-filled fan base.
Butker added a second 50-yard field goal late in the third quarter to extend their lead to 20-10.
But the Jaguars proved in the wild-card round that they can deal with deficits. And rather than wilt amid the crowd noise, they rose to the occasion, putting together a 75-yard touchdown drive that kept them in the game.
Their comeback ended, though, with two late turnovers and a failed onside kick.
STATS AND STREAKS
Mahomes improved to 5-0 in the divisional round of the playoffs. He’s thrown 28 TD passes and three interceptions in 10 home playoff games. ... Henne was 5 of 7 for 23 yards and a score. ... Jacksonville had eight wins as an underdog this season, tied for the most in the Super Bowl era.
The Chiefs wait to hear whether they play the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium or the Bills in Atlanta for a spot in their third Super Bowl in four years. The Jaguars turn their attention to free agency and the NFL draft.
Original Live Game Coverage:
Update 7:34 p.m.: Chiefs beat the Jaguars 27-20. Watch post-game coverage on Facebook live.
Update 7:33 p.m.: FIELD GOAL by the Jaguars. 27-20 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 7:01 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN by the Chiefs. 27-17 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 6:50 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN by the Jaguars. 20-17 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 6:39 p.m.: Field goal by the Chiefs. 20-10 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 6:06 p.m.: Mahomes is back on the field for the second half.
Update 5:32 p.m.: FIELD GOAL by the Jaguars. 17-10 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 5:32 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN by the Chiefs. 17-7 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 5:31 p.m.:
Update 5:14 p.m.: Field goal by the Chiefs. 10-7 Chiefs are in the lead.
Update 5:00 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN by the Jaguars. 7-7 the game is a tie.
Update 4:46 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN by the Chiefs. 7-0 Chiefs are in the lead.
JACKSONVILLE (10-8) at KANSAS CITY (14-3)
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST, NBC
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Jaguars 9-9, Chiefs 6-10-1.
SERIES RECORD: Chiefs lead 8-6.
LAST MEETING: Chiefs beat Jaguars 27-17 on Nov. 13 in Kansas City.
LAST WEEK: Jaguars beat Chargers 31-30; Chiefs Off.
JAGUARS OFFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (14), PASS (10), SCORING (10)
JAGUARS DEFENSE: OVERALL (24), RUSH (12), PASS (28), SCORING (12)
CHIEFS OFFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (20), PASS (1), SCORING (1)
CHIEFS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (8), PASS (18), SCORING (16)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Jaguars plus-5; Chiefs minus-3.
JAGUARS PLAYER TO WATCH: PK Riley Patterson has made 18 of his past 19 field-goal attempts, including a 36-yarder to beat the Chargers last week. His worst game of the season came at Kansas City, where he missed two field goals wide left in the second quarter as the Chiefs built a 20-7 halftime lead in their eventual 27-17 win in November.
CHIEFS PLAYER TO WATCH: Patrick Mahomes is 8-3 in the postseason with all of his losses coming in the AFC title game or the Super Bowl. The All-Pro QB has thrown for 2,825 yards with 26 TD passes and three interceptions in his nine playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium.
KEY MATCHUP: Mahomes against the Jacksonville pass defense, which was better than only four other teams. He threw for 331 yards with TD passes to four different receivers against the Jags in November. But they fared well against the Chargers’ Justin Herbert in the wild-card round, sacking him three times while allowing 273 yards and one TD pass.
INJURIES: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (toe) remains on the injury report but is no danger of missing the game, while LS Ross Matiscik (back), RG Brandon Scherff (abdomen), KR Jamal Agnew (shoulder) and C Luke Fortner (back) are dealing with minor dings. Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman (abdomen) remains out, though the rest of the team is healthy.
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SERIES NOTES: The Jaguars and Chiefs are meeting in the playoffs for the first time. Kansas City has won six straight in the series going back to 2010 with four of the wins coming at Arrowhead Stadium.
STATS AND STUFF: Jacksonville has won six in a row and is the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game the year after finishing with the worst (or tied for the worst) record in the league. ... The Jaguars overcame a 27-0 deficit last week to stun the Chargers. It was the third-largest comeback in postseason history. ... Jacksonville has eight wins as an underdog this season, tied for the most in a season in the Super Bowl era. ... Lawrence is the sixth QB in NFL history with four or more TD passes in his first career playoff start. He had two TD passes, no turnovers and a 106.1 rating in Week 10 against the Chiefs. ... Jacksonville WR Christian Kirk had a season-high nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting with Kansas City. ... Jaguars LB Foye Oluokun led the NFL in tackles (184) for the second straight year while LB Josh Allen has a tackle for loss in five of his past six games. ... Kansas City concluded the regular season with five straight wins. ... The Chiefs have gained at least 300 yards in a club-record 16 consecutive games. They finished with 7,032 yards in the regular season to set another franchise record. ... The Chiefs had 55 sacks this season, second only to the 60 they had in 1990. They had just 31 last season. ... Mahomes had 5,614 yards passing and rushing this season to break Drew Brees’ record of 5,562 set in 2011, though Mahomes did it during a 17-game regular season. His 5,250 yards passing broke his own Chiefs record of 5,097 set in 2018. ... Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught 110 passes, one behind Tyreek Hill’s club record set in 2021. Kelce needs two catches to pass Shannon Sharpe (816) for fourth among tight ends. ... Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon has caught a TD pass in six straight games, one off Dwayne Bowe’s team record set in 2010. ... LB Nick Bolton had 180 tackles this season, breaking Derrick Johnson’s club record by one. ... Chiefs DT Chris Jones had 15 1/2 sacks to tie his personal best. The total trailed only Nick Bosa (17 1/2) and Haason Reddick (16) for most in the league. ... P Tommy Townsend set Chiefs records for punting average (50.42 yards) and net punting average (45.58) in a season.
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