Dec 13, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs the ball past Miami Dolphins free safety Brandon Jones (29) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hill scores rushing, receiving TDs as Chiefs edge Dolphins

Tyreek Hill scored touchdowns on his first two touches, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a 33-27 comeback win over the host Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.

Hill scored on a 32-yard end around and on a 44-yard reception as the Chiefs (12-1) clinched the AFC West championship for a fifth straight season.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who had thrown just two interceptions in his first 52 quarters this season, was picked twice in Sunday’s first 14 minutes.

However, Mahomes recovered to pass for 393 yards and two touchdowns (with a career-high-tying three interceptions). Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce caught eight passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.

Miami (8-5) was led by rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who passed for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns — both to tight end Mike Gesicki, who left the game in the fourth quarter due to a shoulder injury.

Tagovailoa was also intercepted for the first time in his pro career, snapping a streak of 153 passes without a pick. Tagovailoa was also sacked by Chris Jones for a safety.

The Dolphins defense, which leads the NFL with 25 takeaways, got four turnovers on Sunday. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard got a one-handed pick, his NFL-leading ninth interception of the season. He has at least one pick in five straight games.

Kansas City got off to a poor start in the first quarter. On the Chiefs’ first possession, a Mahomes screen pass was tipped by Andrew Van Ginkel and picked by Byron Jones.

On KC’s second possession, Mahomes took a nine-yard loss after he fumbled a shotgun snap and then a 30-yard sack — the longest in the NFL since 1979 — to force a punt from the 3-yard line on fourth-and-42.

Then, on KC’s third possession, an overthrown Mahomes pass was picked by Eric Rowe.

Despite all those errors, Miami’s lead early in the second quarter was just 10-0 on Tagovailoa’s seven-yard pass to Gesicki and Jason Sanders’ 31-yard field goal.

Kansas City then stormed back to take a 14-10 halftime lead as Hill took an end around and ran 32 yards for a score on his first touch of the game and Kelce caught a six-yard TD toss.

Among Miami’s missed first-half opportunities: a dropped TD pass by DeVante Parker on third down, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a field goal. In addition, Sanders missed from 45 yards on Miami’s second possession.

Kansas City made the Dolphins pay, opening the third quarter with two long TDs in 62 seconds — both of them untouched. First, Hill scored on a 44-yard bomb. Mecole Hardman then added a 67-yard punt return for a 28-10 lead.

After the safety, Miami cut its deficit to 30-24 on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns: Gesicki’s 29-yard grab and Tagovailoa’s one-yard run.

But Harrison Butker’s 46-yard kick with 1:08 left iced the game.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball past Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Walker (57) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs hold off Broncos to clinch playoff berth

Patrick Mahomes completed 25 of 40 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs clinched a playoff berth by outlasting the Denver Broncos 22-16 at Kansas City, Mo.

The Chiefs (11-1) failed to score TDs on their first four trips into the red zone, settling for field goals from Harrison Butker and allowing the Broncos to maintain their upset hopes behind their tough defensive effort.

Down the stretch, however, Mahomes and the Chiefs controlled the clock to reach the playoffs for a sixth consecutive time while also clinching at least a share of their fifth straight AFC West title.

Drew Lock engineered a time-consuming 6-minute, 42-second touchdown drive he capped with a 10-yard strike to Tim Patrick to give the Broncos (4-8) a 16-12 lead with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

The TD was the second for Patrick. Lock, who went 15 of 28 for 151 yards passing, was intent on engineering an upset after the Broncos never trailed in the first half. Melvin Gordon also provided a spark with 131 yards rushing.

It was an impressive offensive turnaround from the previous week when no Denver quarterbacks were available in a loss to New Orleans because of COVID-19 complications.

However, a decision to punt while facing fourth-and-3 at the Denver 49 enabled Mahomes to take over with 6:07 left. The Chiefs whittled time down to 1:04 when Butker connected on his fifth field goal, from 48 yards, for the final margin.

Travis Kelce led Kansas City’s receivers with eight for 136 yards and scored the Chiefs’ only touchdown on a 20-yard grab in the third quarter.

Tyrann Mathieu snagged two interceptions for Kansas City, which won its 11th straight over Denver.

Butker drew Kansas City within a point at halftime, 10-9, with field goals of 35, 24 and 23 yards.

Denver, meanwhile, rode the legs of Gordon, who rushed for 105 first-half yards, including a 65-yard burst that set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Lock to Patrick with 6:26 left in the half. Brandon McManus also connected on a 53-yard field goal.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs, Bucs prepare for quarterback battle

Creating a system that NFL players want to be part of is an attribute worth noting about the Kansas City Chiefs.

Claiming a Super Bowl championship last season helped create such an atmosphere.

Locking in a generational quarterback to a 10-year deal worth a cool half-billion dollars required a substantial investment. Retaining other standout contributors also generates the kind of harmony that reflects positively on the organizational skills of general manager Brett Veach.

“We’ve built chemistry with bringing the same guys back, year-in and year-out, so we know where each other is on that football field,” Patrick Mahomes said while looking ahead to a Sunday matchup pitting the Chiefs (9-1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at Tampa, Fla.

Complications, however, have surfaced in the Kansas City laboratory.

Not within the offense, mind you. Mahomes is clicking along at the pace of an MVP candidate, while Travis Kelce ranks third among NFL receivers with 896 yards and could threaten the NFL’s season yardage record by a tight end.

Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill generated 100 yards receiving in each of the last two games when the Chiefs needed every inch. Their defense allowed 31 points on average in those wins, requiring Mahomes and Co. to outproduce Carolina and Las Vegas.

While it has struggled in several areas defensively, Kansas City is particularly susceptible in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 75.9 percent of those penetrations, the worst rate in the league.

“Mentally we’re kind of upset because of these last two games we’ve had,” said Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, “but I wouldn’t say we’re down.”

Good thing, considering the Chiefs will be facing a legendary quarterback capable of big heroics.

For the Bucs, though, the focus seems to be more bent on finding ways for Tom Brady to reload.

“We’ve got guys open, we’ve just missed them,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “And there are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan.”

Brady has gone 0-for-19 in the last four games on pass attempts of 20-plus yards.

While that deficiency might seem glaring, Brady could still be adept at exposing seams underneath. Kansas City allowed a .740 completion percentage in its last two games.

The Bucs have not yet capitalized on the breakaway skills of Antonio Brown, the four-time All-Pro receiver who has played three games since he was acquired mid-season and is averaging 8.7 yards on 18 receptions.

“It’s just a matter of hitting him,” Arians said. “He’s doing a great job of running after the catch and within his role, he’s doing a really good job. It’s just when he’s gone deep, we’re not hitting him.”

Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean was placed on concussion protocol following Monday’s 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He is questionable for Sunday’s game, along with center A.Q. Shipley and guard Ali Marpet.

The Chiefs placed wide receiver Byron Pringle (ankle) on injured reserve but could retain another wideout, Sammy Watkins (hamstring), who has missed the last five games.

–Field Level Media