The first half of the AFC Divisional Round game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs went off the rails. Here are all the highlights.
Wacky is probably the best word to describe how the NFL playoffs have gone this year, especially in the AFC. Of the six games played up to this point, the visiting team has won four of them, including the Tennessee Titans twice, as they will host the winner of the other AFC Divisional Round game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Though Houston was a significant underdog in this ballgame, the Texans shockingly got out to a 24-0 lead over the heavily favored Chiefs. The first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium was all about the Texans. Fate would have it that the Chiefs would go out and dominate the second quarter. They got four passing touchdowns out of Patrick Mahomes to take a 28-24 lead into halftime.
In short, this game was everything the AFC Wild Card game between the Texans and the Buffalo Bills was last week, but with the volume cranked up to 11. We will do our very best to make senes of the most nonsensical first half of football in NFL playoff history. So let’s get to it…
Houston would receive the opening kickoff and then proceed to take it 75 yards to the house on six plays. The Texans took a 7-0 lead after wide receiver Kenny Stills scampered to pay dirt on a busted coverage by the Chiefs defense. Quarterback Deshaun Watson hit Stills in stride on a play he could not have been more wide open, essentially cake walking 54 yards to the end zone.
On the Chiefs’ first offensive possession, they went three-and-out. On Dustin Colquitt’s punt attempt, it would be blocked by defensive end Barkevious Mingo and defensive back Lonnie Johnson would gather it and head into the end zone for six. After the made PAT, it was 14-0 Texans very early in the first quarter.
Kansas City would punt on its ensuing offensive possession. Houston would do the same thing. However, Kansas City return man Tyreek Hill would muff Bryan Anger’s punt. Houston would take over at the Kansas City 6-yard line. Two plays later, Watson would find his tight end Darren Fells at the goal line for another Texans’ touchdown. Houston took a commanding 21-0 in the first.
Kansas City then went three-and-out on its next offensive drive. Though Colquitt’s punt wasn’t blocked, things were looking especially bleak for the Chiefs. Houston would orchestrate a nine-play drive that set up a Ka’imi Fairbairn 31-yard field goal to make it 24-0 Texans. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien opted to kick a field goal, despite it being fourth-and-1 for the Texans.
That’s when everything started to change. Chiefs return man Mecole Hardman got a great return on the ensuing kickoff. This set up a two-play drive where Mahomes would find running back Damien Williams for a 17-yard touchdown strike. It would be 24-7 Texans after this touchdown.
After getting lucky on two big special teams plays earlier in the game, the Texans decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 from their own 31-yard line. It was a decent play design, but one Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen read like a book, bringing Texans safety Justin Reid to the turf two yards shy of the first down.
With a shortened field, Mahomes would find his tight end Travis Kelce for a five-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-14 Texans after the made Harrison Butker PAT. You could feel the momentum shift entirely in Kansas City’s favor after the special teams gaffe by the Texans that set up Kelce’s first catch of the afternoon.
Fate would have it that special teams stupidity would continue on the ensuing kickoff. Texans return man DeAndre Carter would fumble his return off the toe of Butker. Sorenson would force the fumble, making his second big special teams play of the day. Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson would return it to the Houston six-yard line to set up outstanding field position.
Three plays later, Mahomes would find Kelce for his second touchdown catch of the afternoon. It was a six-yard reception that made it 24-21 Texans after the made Butker PAT. After that point, you just knew that the Chiefs were going to end up taking an unbelievable lead into halftime.
Having lost all momentum, Houston would punt on its ensuing drive after six plays. This gave Mahomes a little under three minutes before the half to take a Chiefs’ lead. No, he and his team did not disappoint. Mahomes was magical on that drive, capping it off with another five-yard touchdown pass to Kelce. This one made it 28-24 Chiefs with 50 seconds left in the half.
Given how nuts this game was, Houston did its best to cut into its newfound deficit before halftime. Watson would complete a tremendous deep ball to his favorite target in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. A Watson scramble would set up a tough 51-yard field goal attempt for Fairbairn. He kicked it too hard and it sliced away from the uprights. Kansas City led 28-24.
This game gave us 52 first-half points, which was the largest point total amount of any postseason game ever. And this game still had two quarters left to be played in it. The NFL playoffs have gone completely off the rails. The AFC playoff picture is completely wild. We cannot wait to see how the AFC Championship game vs. Tennessee shakes out.