Sun Jan 19 7:49pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches warm ups before the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid holds the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reacts during the first half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andy Reid sat inside a small dorm room on the campus of Missouri Western State six months ago, right as training camp got underway, and lamented for a moment how close his Kansas City Chiefs came to the Super Bowl last season.
On Sunday, the coach affably known as ''Big Red'' was at the epicenter of a big party.
After guiding his team through a litany of injuries this season, including a scary knee injury to star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Reid pushed the Chiefs across the finish line. They rallied from an early 10-point hole against the Tennessee Titans for a 35-24 victory in the AFC title game that earned the Chiefs their first trip to the Super Bowl in five decades.
''Driving us through training camp and into the season, when you have great expectations like this team has, to be sitting here today, that's a challenge - a lot of things have to happen,'' Reid said. ''Guys have to be able to check their egos at the door. There are ups and downs, not getting down on each other. I'm proud of the guys for doing all of that.''
Now, Reid is headed back to the big game for the first time since the 2004 season, when his Philadelphia Eagles lost to the New England Patriots. Only his good friend Dick Vermeil went longer between trips to the Super Bowl.
''He's no-doubt a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and he's going to his second Super Bowl and hopefully get a victory,'' Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said, ''and as a family, we're as excited about him getting a chance to get that victory.''
Reid made it back with a steady hand. Creative play-calling. Unwavering confidence.
''We go out there every single day and we see Coach Reid and how much work he puts in, and it transfers to this whole team,'' said Mahomes, who threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns while running 27 yards for another score - a tight-rope walk down the sideline that will surely fill playoff highlight reels for years to come.
''We're going to go out there and take advantage of every day until we get to the Super Bowl,'' Mahomes added, ''and we're going to go out there and play our best football.''
They did that for a long stretch Sunday.
After falling behind by double-digits for the third consecutive playoff game, Reid managed to keep the sideline calm - just as he did when the Chiefs rallied from a 24-0 hole in the divisional round against Houston. He stuck to the game plan, managed to get Mahomes and the offense going, and the result was a 28-point run that put Tennessee on its heels.
The Chiefs capped their first AFC championship since the 1969 season by beating the Titans at their own game, running Damien Williams for a series of first downs that drained the clock and prevented any notion of a comeback.
When the Chiefs forced a turnover on downs to seal the victory, Reid walked all the way down to the 10-yard line to catch defensive tackle Chris Jones coming off the field. They hugged each other tightly, then Reid walked over and did the same to Terrell Suggs, the veteran defensive end who joined the Chiefs in the final couple weeks of the regular season.
''I've thought about this a lot. Nobody deserves it more than Andy,'' Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub said this week. ''He's such a great coach. To not have a Super Bowl win under his belt - this would be huge. I don't know if I'd stop crying with him. I'd probably hug him forever. I'm just so proud of what he's done and everything he's done in his career.''
The hugs continued Sunday as the clock hit zero and players rushed onto the field.
''The way Coach Reid does things, coming in 2013, we're lucky to have this guy to even come into this small-market team,'' Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt said. ''The only thing we ever heard was `small market, small market, small market,' and then all of a sudden, Andy Reid is here and it's crazy. It's kind of changed the trajectory.
''Of course you want to win one for Big Red,'' added Colquitt, the longest-tenured member of the team. ''Everybody says he's a player's coach and I don't think that exists. He's just a man that wants to make other men and win a championship.''
Gone amid the celebration Sunday were those memories that Reid carried to training camp of the Chiefs' overtime loss to the Patriots last season, when their offense never got a chance with the ball. They were blown away in the confetti that fell over his head as he raised the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named in honor of the late founder of the Chiefs franchise.
After a long and agonizing wait, the Chiefs were finally headed back to the Super Bowl.
Reid was headed back, too.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was not targeted often, but made it count when he was called upon. Robinson hauled in both of his targets for 31 yards during their victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. His first reception was a 24-yard catch that helped the Chiefs move upfield for their second quarter comeback. However, Robinson is normally an afterthought with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce on the roster. He could have some cheap DFS value for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was unable to make much of an impact during the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Hardman finished with one reception for eight yards. His reception was technically a jet sweep play that was a handoff on the second drive of the game. However, he drew a big defensive pass interference call that helped the Chiefs get into scoring position. Hardman is a fantastic special teams player, but won't bring much value to DFS contests for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was able to find the end zone twice during Sunday's AFC Championship game. Hill caught five of his seven targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. His first score was a 10-yard jet sweep handoff that counted as a reception, but regardless it was a nice way for Hill to show off his ridiculous speed. The performance of Hill in Super Bowl 54 could help make or break plenty of DFS players.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was surprisingly held in check by the Tennessee Titans during Sunday's AFC Championship contest. He caught three of his four targets for 30 yards in the win over the Titans. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins were the players making the splash plays in this game. DFS players shouldn't be worried as Kelce should see plenty of opportunities during Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams was able to find the end zone three times last week in the Divisional Round battle with the Houston Texans. Williams continued his strong play against the Tennessee Titans in Sunday's AFC Championship game. Williams rushed 17 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 44 yards through the air. Veteran back LeSean McCoy (illness) didn't play and rookie Darwin Thompson saw just one carry in this game. It's clear that the Chiefs trust Williams to be their lead back going forward. Look for him to make a significant impact in Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was able to finally find the end zone for the first time since Week 1. It's been a tough season for Watkins, but at least he was able to do damage when it mattered most. Watkins hauled in seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. Watkins caught a 60-yard touchdown that basically sealed the Chiefs ticket to Super Bowl 54. It's been impossible to trust Watkins this season, but maybe he's finally turning the corner.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson was not able to make much of an impact in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Thompson had one rushing attempt for seven yards in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. Damien Williams continues to be the workhorse while LeSean McCoy (illness) didn't play in this one. Thompson has only two carries this postseason, so he won't be much of an option for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was phenomenal in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He completed 23 of 35 passing attempts for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes also had eight rushing attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown. It was a fantastic performance for Mahomes and DFS players who stuck with him despite the high price are smiling now. The Chiefs are heading to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was forced from the Conference Championship game with an injury in the second quarter, and is questionable to return. After being tackled on the play, it initially looked like Coleman sustained an elbow or arm injury, but it is now being called a shoulder injury. He remained down on the field in pain, and was eventually carted to the locker room. Raheem Mostert has taken over as the lead running back, and Matt Breida will be sprinkled in as well for as long as Coleman remains sidelined.
The San Francisco 49ers have declared TE Daniel Helm, DT Kevin Givens, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, RB Jeff Wilson Jr., CB Dontae Johnson, QB C.J. Beathard and WR Jordan Matthews inactive for NFC Championship.
The Green Bay Packers have declared FB Danny Vitale, WR Ryan Grant, OL Alex Light, RB Dexter Williams, OT John Leglue, CB Ka'dar Hollman and DB Raven Greene inactive for Conference Championships.
Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Rashaan Evans (foot) has returned to the AFC Championship game after missing time because of a foot injury.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz will be a candidate for a contract extension this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Ertz has been one of the top tight ends in the NFL over the last few seasons and should be a main option in the passing game for the Eagles again in 2020. He will be a No. 1 tight end in all fantasy leagues next season.
Tennessee Titans LB Rashaan Evans (foot) suffered a foot injury during the AFC Championship game and is considered questionable to return.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent TE Jason Witten has not ruled out playing in 2020 and could join the New York Giants because of his connection with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, according to sources.
Tennessee Titans WR Adam Humphries (ankle) is officially active for the AFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Humphries will return to the lineup for the first time since Week 13, but his role in the passing game is uncertain. He probably will see a few targets during the game but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
The Tennessee Titans have declared DT Isaiah Mack, OG Kevin Pamphile, WR Rashard Davis, LB Reggie Gilbert, WR Darius Jennings, DT Joey Ivie and WR Cody Hollister inactive for Conference Championships.
The Kansas City Chiefs have declared OG Andrew Wylie, OL Ryan Hunter, RB LeSean McCoy, LB Darron Lee, QB Matt Moore, OT Jackson Barton and CB Morris Claiborne inactive for Conference Championships.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith hauled in a beautiful one-handed touchdown grab in last week's win over the Ravens, showcasing his elite athleticism at the position. That being said, he only has four targets and 21 receiving yards in the playoffs, which is nothing to write home about. The entire offense has taken a backseat to Derrick Henry as the running back has carried the offense in their playoff victories. The Chiefs Defense has not been great at stopping tight ends this year but projecting any kind of significant volume for Smith seems to be a reach as he's only topped four targets four times this season. The Titans being 7.5-point underdogs on the road could mean more passing attempts from Ryan Tannehill, but Smith is still just a touchdown-or-bust, low-owned tournament option at a top-heavy tight end position during Conference Championship Weekend.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis has barely been a whisper this postseason and isnt an appealing fantasy option in the AFC Championship against the Kansas City Chiefs. The third-year pros only catch in the playoffs was a three-yard touchdown and he hasnt eclipsed 80 yards since Week 7. While game flow has been a critical factor in his low usage, Davis has also fallen behind rookie wideout A.J. Brown in snaps and targets. The Titans will likely utilize a more balanced offensive approach against Kansas City, but Davis will need a few splashy pay to return dividends to DFS investors against the sixth-best pass defense by DVOA.