Mon Jan 18 2:26pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is helped off the field after getting injured during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is helped off the field by teammate Mike Remmers, right, after getting injured during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs built a defense and signed a backup quarterback that were good enough to preserve a win.
Now, are they good enough to win on their own?
The Chiefs, who lost Patrick Mahomes to a concussion in the third quarter of Sunday's divisional-round win over Cleveland, might have to find out with their hopes of back-to-back AFC titles and a Super Bowl repeat on the line.
Mahomes remained in the league's concussion protocol Monday and coach Andy Reid declined to speculate on when he'll be cleared.
''Because of the protocol it's a no-brainer,'' Reid explained of the decision, which rests not in his hands but those of team doctors and outside experts. ''You don't even have to think about it. You just go forward. You have an answer if he's there and if he's not there. I can't tell you an answer from a medical standpoint. I just don't know.''
If Mahomes is unable to play, 35-year-old journeyman Chad Henne would start against Buffalo in Sunday's AFC title game.
Henne took over when Mahomes sustained the concussion with the Chiefs leading 19-10, and he finished the drive by leading Kansas City to a field goal. But more memorable will be the two plays he made in the fourth quarter, when the Chiefs were trying to hold onto a 22-17 lead and run out the clock on the win.
On third-and-14 in his own territory, Henne scrambled to his left and found some open space, then sacrificed his body by diving for the first-down marker. Henne came up just short, and when Reid elected to go for it rather than punt, the coach put the game in his hands by calling a short pass play to Tyreek Hill that gave Kansas City a first down.
''I thought Chad played with great composure, particularly for that situation,'' Reid said, ''and to come down to that last series, that big run was gravy. He dusted off those old legs, got them moving a bit, came up a hair short, came back and made a nice throw to Tyreek to clinch it.''
That throw wouldn't have been possible without a big stand by the Kansas City defense.
After allowing the Browns to convert their own fourth down with 5:30 to go, they stuffed Nick Chubb and forced Baker Mayfield to throw an incompletion. And when they tackled Kareem Hunt for a loss on the ensuing third-down pass play, the Browns were forced to punt with 4:23 left in the game.
They never got another chance with the ball.
''They have trust in each other to get that done,'' Reid said. ''I'd rather not have it have to be that way, bigger leads, but the bottom line is you attempt to win the football game, and you do it the best way you can against the best competition in this league. At times you have to reach down, reach a little deeper, and really, whatever the term is, to get in there and use that intestinal fortitude to get you over the hump.''
The pass game kept humming even when Mahomes left the game. Henne was 6 of 8 for 66 yards, though he did make a poor decision on an interception in the end zone. It helps to have tight end Travis Kelce (eight catches, 109 yards and a TD) and Tyreek Hill (eight catches, 110 yards and the game's most important first down) helping him out.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Chiefs will need to get more pressure on the Bills' Josh Allen than they did on Mayfield, who enjoyed standing tall in a comfy pocket most of the game. The only sack that Kansas City got came from L'Jarius Sneed on a cornerback blitz.
The Chiefs hoped to have Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the first time since he sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 15, but he was unable to go. Darrel Williams picked up the slack, carrying 13 times for 78 yards against a stout Browns front.
Harrison Butker got mixed reviews for his kicking performance. He missed an extra point on the Chiefs' first touchdown, then missed a chip-shot field goal later in the game - four points that would have taken a lot of the pressure off the final minutes. But he also set a franchise playoff record by hitting a 50-yarder just before halftime.
Mahomes wasn't the only player to sustain a concussion Sunday. Top cornerback Bashaud Breeland left the game in the second half, and with backup Rashad Fenton out with an ankle injury, the Chiefs' depth is limited in the defensive backfield.
16 - Reid moved into a tie with Chuck Noll for the fifth-most postseason wins by a coach in NFL history. Two more wins would move him past Joe Gibbs for fourth place, leaving only Bill Belichick, Tom Landry and Don Shula ahead of him.
The Chiefs have Tuesday off before returning to practice Wednesday, at which point they hope to have a clearer picture of whether Mahomes will be available against Buffalo on Sunday.
Interview with a Champ
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is not happy with the team after they did not include him in the search for new general manager Nick Caserio. As a result, teams have started calling the Texans to find out if Watson is available in a trade. Owner Cal McNair and the front office haven't said that they are looking to trade Watson, and Watson himself has not asked for a trade. There is plenty of speculation out there as to where Watson might land if he is traded, with the Jaguars, Jets and Dolphins as potential landing spots. The Panthers could also be another team in the mix if Watson actually becomes available. Right now it's all speculation, but it's interesting to imagine the 25-year-old dual-threat QB playing elsewhere. If Watson really wants to leave, he also has a no-trade clause, so he could dictate where he goes next. A trade could increase Watson's outlook heading into the 2021 season, but he'll likely remain a top-five fantasy QB regardless.
The San Francisco 49ers are officially promoting run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel to offensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans to defensive coordinator, according to a source. McDaniel will replace Mike LaFleur, while Ryans will be replacing Robert Saleh, who has become the New York Jets head coach. Saleh took LaFleur and offensive line coach John Benton with him to New York. The 37-year-old McDaniel has been part of head coach Kyle Shanahan's staff at every stop since he joined Washington in 2011. Ryans was a former NFL linebacker and has risen through the ranks since joining Shanahan's staff in 2017 as a quality control coach. Chris Foerster will replace Benton as offensive line coach, while former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello will return as quarterbacks coach.
The Los Angeles Chargers hired Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley as their next head coach on Sunday, according to sources. The 38-year-old spent just one year with the Rams after leading the league's No. 1 defense in scoring, total defense and pass defense in the 2020 regular season. Rams defenders had career-best seasons in sacks under Staley, including Leonard Floyd (10.5), Morgan Cox (six) and Troy Reeder (three), with Michael Brockers recording the second-most sacks in his career. Staley spent three seasons as the linebackers coach in Denver and Chicago before joining the Rams as their defensive coordinator. Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell could follow Staley to the Bolts in the same role, but Rams head coach Sean McVay would have to let O'Connell out of his contract.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) is undergoing an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of a knee injury he suffered during Sunday's playoff victory. Brown suffered the ailment sometime in the first half and was seen on the sidelines, though he was never officially ruled out of the game. Provided there is no structural damage to the knee, Brown's activity levels in this week's practice will be worth watching ahead of an NFC Championship clash with the Packers. If he's unable to play, fellow wideouts Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller would be in line to see more work in the passing game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense put together a strong performance in a 30-20 playoff win over the New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay allowed 20 points and failed to register a sack, though they generated four turnovers. The secondary delivered a strong performance on tape, surrendering just 190 passing yards and picking off Drew Brees three times. Linebacker Devin White, a rising star, was arguably the player of the game, as he was all over the field with 11 tackles and an interception, which he returned for 28 yards. Tampa Bay will travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC title game. They hammered Rodgers and the Green Bay offense for four sacks and two interceptions in a 38-10 regular season drubbing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski caught one of five targets for 14 receiving yards in a 30-20 win over New Orleans. Gronkowski had yet another quiet outing as a pass-catcher, though he was far more involved in the gameplan this time. Tom Brady looked his way in the red zone, so the usage was pretty promising for fantasy purposes. The problem is, Gronkowski has been out-produced by fellow tight end Cameron Brate, who has 130 yards over the last two games. Still, Gronkowski should remain a part of the offense next week against the Packers, who surrendered a 5-78-1 line to him in their regular-season meeting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate led the team in receiving yards in a playoff win over the Saints. Brate hauled in four of five targets for 50 receiving yards, as he once again showed some good chemistry with Tom Brady down the field. The veteran tight end has produced eight catches for 130 yards in two playoff games, while fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski has just one reception. Clearly, Brady will continue to look Gronkowski's way in the red zone, though Brate has carved out a role for himself as a pass-catcher between the 20s. He'll get ready to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field next week with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught just one pass for 10 receiving yards in Sunday's 30-20 divisional-round win over New Orleans. Brown was held in check for much of the game, though it should be noted that he was tending to a knee issue. It occurred sometime in the first half, with Brown requiring some attention from the team trainer- though the team didn't offer much more information on his status. This game snapped a streak of four straight contests with a touchdown reception for Brown, whose practice reps will be worth monitoring ahead of a huge title game clash with Green Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin hauled in four of seven targets for 34 receiving yards in Sunday's victory over New Orleans. Godwin did lead the team in targets, though it could have been a far more productive day had he hauled in a long pass from Tom Brady in the end zone. The drops have certainly been an issue for the fourth-year pro- he has six in two playoff games- though he remains one of Brady's favorite pass-catchers on the roster. Godwin has seen at least six targets in 12 of 14 games, a role that makes him enticing to turn to for fantasy purposes. He'll look to be more productive with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line next week against Green Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans caught one of three targets for a three-yard touchdown in a 30-20 win over the Saints. Evans was held in check for most of the day by Saints' corner Marshon Lattimore- though he was able to beat him in the end zone for a score. That's his 14th touchdown of the year, including the regular season and playoffs, as he continues to be one of Tom Brady's favorite red-zone targets. Evans will look to be more of a factor between the 20s in an NFC Championship game matchup against the Packers.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook finished with five receptions for 28 yards on seven targets in Sunday's loss to Tampa. The tight end also lost a crucial fumble which swayed the outcome of the game. Cook finishes 2020 with 37 receptions for 504 yards and seven touchdowns. The tight end will be a free agent this offseason and will turn 34 in a few months. His fantasy value remains low heading into 2021 considering his age and the uncertainty about the size of his role on a potentially new team next season.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith grabbed three receptions for 85 yards and two scores on three targets in Sunday's divisional-round loss to Tampa. Smith paced the team in yards and had a fantastic showing in the team's last game of the season. The WR finished 2020 with 34 receptions for 448 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. Because of his inconsistency and smaller role on this offense, Smith should be considered a deeper-league flex at best heading into 2021.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II carried the ball 13 times for 62 rushing yards in a playoff victory over New Orleans. Jones averaged 4.8 yards per carry and showed some good burst in his first game back from a quad injury. He ripped off a long run that was called back due to a holding penalty and appeared to grimace after the play, though he was never taken out. Jones was out-touched by Fournette 22-13, though he may eat into those carries a bit if he can put in a full practice ahead of next week's NFC title game against Green Bay.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas finished with zero yards on four targets in Sunday's divisional-round loss to the Buccaneers. After a terrific wild-card showing last week with five receptions for 73 yards and a score on seven targets, Thomas fell flat this week. Despite an injury-ridden season, the WR is clearly the top receiving option on the team heading into 2021 and remains a WR1 despite the potential change at QB.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette was the engine of his team's offense in a 30-20 divisional-round win over the Saints. Fournette turned 22 touches into 107 scrimmage yards, adding a touchdown to yet another solid outing. With Tom Brady struggling a bit, the 25-year-old came up with some timely runs and receptions, none bigger than a six-yard touchdown catch that tied the game late in the third quarter. Fournette has topped 20 touches and 100 yards in each of his last two games- he should remain a focal point of the offense when the Buccaneers travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers next week.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders hauled in six receptions for 48 yards on nine targets in Sunday's loss to Tampa. Sanders bounced back from a poor wild-card showing last week in which he only mustered two receptions for three yards. Nevertheless, this week and last week's performance summarize just how inconsistent the WR's 2020 season was. Sanders should be considered as only a WR3/flex option heading into 2021 drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady completed 18 of 33 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, adding a rushing score in a 30-20 win over the Saints. Brady struggled to move the ball for much of the game but came up with big plays when they were needed. He fired touchdown passes to Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, then scored on a quarterback sneak to give his team the lead for good in the fourth. Brady has thrown for 580 yards and scored five total touchdowns in his past two playoff games, both against top-five pass defenses from the regular season. He'll get ready to travel to Lambeau Field for an epic clash in the NFC Championship against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara finished with 18 carries for 85 yards and three receptions for 20 yards on six targets in Sunday's loss to the Bucs. Kamara still managed to be effective despite the Saints' offense not being able to get going during the game. The RB finished the season with a career-high 932 rush yards and 16 rush touchdowns. As a focal point of this offense, he remains a solid RB1 heading into 2021 drafts.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished with 134 yards, one touchdown, and three picks in Sunday's divisional-round loss to Tampa. Brees had a tough time producing in this loss which ultimately ended the Saints' season. Earlier today, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported Sunday could very well be Brees' last game in the NFL and the QB would retire as one of the most accomplished players in league history.
The Cleveland Browns Defense played well in a 22-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Cleveland picked up one sack and forced one turnover in the loss. The Chiefs' offense would have turned in a much better game but they lost quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a concussion early in the third quarter. Top Cleveland defender Myles Garrett played through an oblique injury to log the team's only sack of the afternoon while safety Karl Joseph picked off a Chad Henne pass in the fourth quarter. Cleveland's defense was a team weakness during the 2020 season, so expect the front office to dedicate a significant portion of their offseason resources to augmenting the unit. They could be one of the most-improved fantasy defenses heading into the 2021 campaign.