By Terrance Turner
After taking a commanding 24-0 lead early in the game, the Houston Texans fell victim to a barnstorming comeback by the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoff game on Jan. 12.
The Texans scored on their opening drive when quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kenny Stills. A blocked punt by the Chiefs led to another Texans TD, courtesy of cornerback Lonnie Johnson. Then Watson threw another touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells. The Texans were up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. That lead extemded to 24 points early in the second quarter, thanks to a field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn.
But then everything changed.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams. The next two scores came courtesy of Texans’ mistakes. On 4th down, the Texans tried a fake punt, snapping the ball to safety Justin Reid — who got tackled by Daniel Sorensen. That gave the Chiefs the ball at the 33-yard-line. They cashed in quickly: Mahomes threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Then, when Texans wide receiver DeAndre Carter returned the ball, Sorensen tackled him. The ball popped out and landed right into the hands of Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson. That allowed Chiefs to score again: Mahomes tossed another 5-yard TD to Kelce. Just before halftime, Mahomes — on the run from Texans defenders — launched a short pass to Kelce, who caught it in the end zone. By halftime, the Chiefs were ahead 28-24, and Kelce set a new record for the most touchdown catches in one quarter.
Things went from bad to worse for the Texans in the second half. A promising drive led to a missed field goal kick by Fairbairn. Then Chiefs running back Damien Williams rushed in for his second touchdown of the game. (He scored again later in the third quarter.) The score was now 41-24. Kansas City had scored 41 unanswered points.
Watson ran into the end zone for a touchdown to make it 41-31, but that would be as close as it would get. Mahomes answered with a touchdown pass to Chiefs tight end Blake Bell. Some time later, kicker Harrison Butker’s field goal sealed the Texans’ fate. They fell to Kansas City, 51-31.
Despite the disappointing result, Watson remained bullish about the team and its prospects. “The future is bright for this organization,” he said after the game. “We did so much this season. We went through so many ups and downs. For us to be one of the final eight teams is huge. There’s a lot of teams at home that wish they were in a position to play this game … it just didn’t go our way.”
For the Chiefs’ part, it was a record-breaking affair. The team scored 41 unanswered points — the most in a playoff game since the Jets in 2002. The Chiefs also became the first team ever to score a touchdown on seven consecutive drives. They also became the first team to win by 20 points or more after trailing by 20 in the first half. The win sent them to the AFC Championship Game.