Backup quarterback Chad Henne gained 13 yards on a scramble, then threw a stunning fourth-and-inches completion to Tyreek Hill with less than two minutes remaining on Sunday as the host Kansas City Chiefs finished off the Cleveland Browns 22-17 to reach the AFC Championship Game.
Henne replaced Patrick Mahomes, who appeared to come away with a head injury at the 7:47 mark of the third quarter after he was tackled by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson on an option keeper.
Mahomes, who will have to go through concussion protocol to determine his availability for the AFC title game, passed for 255 yards and one touchdown.
The defending Super Bowl champions became the first AFC team to play host to a conference championship for a third consecutive season. They will face the Buffalo Bills, a team Kansas City defeated 26-17 on Oct. 19.
Henne was intercepted by Cleveland’s Karl Joseph in the end zone with 8:10 remaining but the Browns’ drive to potentially take the lead stalled and they were forced to punt. The Chiefs then ran out the final 4:09.
Hill and Travis Kelce each had eight receptions for 110 and 109 yards, respectively. Darrel Williams, in his first NFL start, added 78 yards on 13 carries and had four receptions.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 204 yards and one touchdown. Cleveland running back Nick Chubb added 69 yards rushing.
The Chiefs scored on each of their four first-half possessions while generating 293 yards to build a 19-3 halftime margin.
Mahomes, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 233 first-half yards, rushed for a 1-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game and hit Kelce for a 20-yard score early in the second quarter. Harrison Butker kicked field goals of 50 and 28 yards in the second quarter after missing his first PAT attempt.
Cody Parkey booted a 46-yard field goal to cap the Browns’ first drive, but a costly fumble at the goal line by Rashard Higgins kept them from scoring a touchdown late in the first half.
Higgins caught a pass along the sideline from Mayfield and stretched the ball to the front of the end zone, but the Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen caused the fumble that rolled outside of the end zone for a touchback.
Kansas City took over with 1:34 left and Mahomes drove the Chiefs 70 yards for Butker’s chip shot with 2 seconds left.
–Field Level Media