Chiefs squeeze past Browns to continue on their “Repeat” Journey

Kate Arhar NFL Reporter

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

Last weekend brought a little heartbreak to Cleveland and a huge sigh of relief to Kansas City!

The Chiefs were able to hold off the up-and-coming Browns to win their AFC Divisional Round match-up. Next up, the AFC Championship game, hosting the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at 6:40pm EST.

If the Chiefs can win this weekend then they’ll head back to the Super Bowl and a chance to repeat their success from last year. But the victory over the Browns came at a cost. Will quarterback Patrick Mahomes be healthy and ready to play this week?

By the slim margin of 22-17, the Chiefs outlasted the Browns last week.  I say “outlasted” because the Browns were in this game with a shot at winning to the bitter end. I’d like to credit their talent but the reality is, losing QB Patrick Mahomes to a possible concussion will give any team a fighting chance to win!

But with or without him, there’s a reason that 8 of the Chiefs 14 wins this year were by 6 points or less. This is a solid team, front to back, next man up, all three sides of the ball. Chad Henne may be looking like a hero now for not blowing the lead, but the reality is that this entire team held it together.

The game started with a KC touchdown. A missed extra point gave them the early 6-0 lead. The Browns managed a field goal and we were 6-3 at the end of the 1st quarter.  The 2nd quarter saw the Chiefs continue to move the ball with ease and the offense put up another touchdown and two field goals to make it 19-3.

The Browns didn’t roll over, however, and put together a great drive that had QB Baker Mayfield hitting wide receiver Rashard Higgins and a run for the end zone which, ultimately, ended badly. As he dove for the goal line, Higgins was hit by Safety Daniel Sorensen, the ball was knocked out and, in luck that only seems to affect Cleveland, the ball rolled into and then out of the end zone. The result: ball placed on the 20 yard line and given back to the Chiefs.

Two things. I watch an awful lot of football and I cannot remember this happening to another team. Ever. Maybe I just missed it but I can’t believe fans and teams wouldn’t be freaking out at the outrageous penalty you pay for fumbling the ball when no one actually recovered it.

And the other thing would be the clear “he lead with his helmet” hit that jarred the ball loose. Now, I could whine and complain on behalf of Browns fans that this “no call” cost them the game, but I won’t. Yes, the refs missed it. No, it’s not reviewable. Yes, it sucks. But this happened right before the half and the Browns had plenty of time to get back in the game and win. You can’t really blame this one play on the loss. Oh, we’ll try, but it’s just not the cause.

Cleveland has a lot to be proud of this year. They’ve absolutely proven they are NOT the “Same Old Browns.” They’ve got the franchise QB fans have been looking for over the past 10 years (or more) and Baker Mayfield has definitely shown that he’s the guy.

They have their work cut out for them this offseason – fixing the defense, maybe adding depth at offensive line – but even first year head coach Kevin Stefanski has proven he was the right hire after years of getting it wrong. Frankly, their ability to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round with Stefanski and a score of players out due to Covid-19 should show everyone that the culture has most definitely changed and that the Browns are not going away.

The Chiefs will stay home and continue playing. Mahomes should be back from concussion protocol so no worries there. Sorenson got fined by the NFL for the helmet hit but not suspended, so again, the team will be just fine. However, they do not have an easy game with week against those fiesty Bills but I have to say, I think they’ll get back to the Super Bowl.

Will they win? Not going to make any guess on that but I do predict they’ll get there.  What do you think?

 

Talk NFL Playoffs with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8

 

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