The playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday will go down in football history as one of the greatest comebacks. Being down by 24 points in any league usually means the party is over, but the Chiefs are built for just such a game.
The first quarter looked like the first game of the season for a junior high team. A blown coverage, a blocked punt and a muff on the punt return and in an instant, you give up three touchdowns. Most teams would check-up.
The coaching staff had to have developed great team chemistry and a belief in one another for the team to recover from that type of start. On the sidelines at the game you could see Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce getting in the faces of their teammates and telling them to get with the program.
The entire coaching staff deserves credit for maintaining composure and staying with the game plan. If they started a 2-minute philosophy while down 24-0, they would have never gotten back into the game.
The two greatest Chiefs football games ever played were not the two Super Bowl appearances. One was the longest NFL game ever played and was on Christmas Day 1971 against the Dolphins. The Chiefs lost in overtime. That was a team that had played in two of the first four Super Bowls and had already won a Super Bowl in 1970. They were on the verge of becoming an early dynasty in the newly merged NFL.
The other was the game Sunday. I attended that game as well. The game in 1971 put the organization into a negative spiral that lasted decades. The win Sunday could be the stepping-stone the franchise has been in search of since that cold Christmas Day in 1971.
The common thread with the two teams from different eras was great quarterback leadership. Len Dawson was every bit as much the “Man” at that time as Patrick Mahomes is today. The difference is that Dawson and the Chiefs were coming down from the mountain top, while Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are beginning the climb back up to the mountain top.
Mahomes is made for situations like last Sunday and the organization has surrounded him with talent that allows him to shine. Mahomes plays like a seasoned veteran, even though this is only his second year as an NFL starter. His first touchdown, thrown on a dime, to running back Damien Williams was a thing of beauty. It was a perfect spiral under the armpit of the linebacker at the numbers and Williams never broke stride.
From that point on the Texans victory party was over. Mahomes and the rest of the team got on board to score 51 points in three quarters. That would be unheard of even in a video game, let alone in a real NFL game.
This team has the potential and young players to be around the top of the mountain for several years. Sunday was one great victory that showed how explosive the entire team can be when their backs are against the wall.
The key in the upcoming AFC championship game Sunday at Arrowhead will be if the Chiefs can get on top early. If they play like they did in the first quarter against the Texans, it will spell trouble. Tennessee has a great offensive line and running back Derrick Henry is a stallion!
The Chiefs have to play on top because the Titans are capable of controlling the clock and letting Henry eat up time and yardage. Hopefully, the Chiefs’ defense can put the Titans in long third down situations all day long so Henry will not be able to control the game. Make no mistake, the Titans are not in the championship game by mistake or luck. They are a solid and extremely physical football team. If they have to throw the football 30 times or more, they are in trouble.
Mahomes and company can beat you a lot of different ways, but the Titans will try to control the clock and the game on the ground. The Chiefs will have a tougher time digging out of a hole against them because of the things they do well as a team. This is a chance for the Chiefs organization to work its way back up to the top of the mountain since that devastating loss in 1971. Go Chiefs!
• The Brain Injury Association will host its annual “Sports Concussions: Facts and New Frontiers” seminar on Monday, Feb. 10, at the KC First Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Mo. To register, visit www.biamo.org.
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.