Chiefs Beat Browns In Dramatic Finish

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 17, 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs played the Cleveland Browns today in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. The Chiefs (14-1) are seeking a second consecutive Super Bowl berth; Cleveland is in the playoffs for the first tine since 2002. It was high drama in Arrowhead today, but Kansas City somehow pulled off yet another close-call, heart-stopping win.

On their opening drive, Kansas City had 5 runs and four passes before the climactic scoring plays. On 3rd and 2, wide receiver Tyreek Hill got a first-down catch. On 1st and goal, Williams was just short. Then quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran into the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Harrison Butker missed the extra-point kick, but Mahomes’ 1-yard run put the team ahead 6-0.

The Browns mounted a drive in spite of an injury to their left tackle. At 3rd and 21, they barely evaded a delay of game. On 4th and 17, a 46-yard field goal was good. That made it 6-3. The Chiefs took back over. Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman had a 41-yard run, then picked up nine more on the next play for a first down. Byron Pringle also achieved a first-down to end the first quarter.

The second quarter began with a near-catastrophe. After a disastrous snap, Mahomes managed to snap the ball to Hill. Mahomes ran near the two-yard line, but a holding penalty on Austin Reiter wiped out the gain. On 2nd and 17, tight end Travis Kelce had a 20-yard touchdown reception. This time, the extra point was good. That made it 13-3.

The Browns had worse luck. WR Jarvis Landry had a great catch negated by a holding penalty. Running back Bradley Chubb dropped two passes. Then, on 3rd and 20, the ball was batted back and sonehow caught by QB Baker Mayfield. But the team still lost eight yards on the play.

The Chiefs’ drive saw two penalties on the offense, and Mahomes struggled with a foot injury sustained earlier. Though he ran 13 yards for a first down, Mahomes was gimpy. He walked gingerly after each successive play. The Chiefs were stopped on 3rd down by Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn, setting up a field goal. Kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 50-yard field goal to make it 16-3.

The Browns got the ball back, embarking on a promising drive. They managed a 26-yard play at the two-minute warning. Wide receiver Tee Higgins had 23 yards and got the ball on the next play. Higgins was this close to scoring. But as he dived towards the end zone with the ball, he collided with Chiefs defender Daniel Sorensen. The ball was knocked free and bounced in the end zone. The result was a touchback, resulting in a first down for Kansas City. They cashed in on the turnover. Butker nailed a 28-yard field goal attempt to make it 19-3 at the half.

In the second half, the momentum switched wildly. Safety Tyrann Mathieu had a huge interception — the first in 10 games by Baker Mayfield. But the Chiefs did nothing with it. Butker missed a 33-yard field goal. That miss would be costly: the Browns scored on their next possession to make it 19-10. Then Mahomes got hurt on the Chiefs’ next drive: what looked like a big shoulder-to-shoulder hit took him to the ground. Mahomes needed help getting up and looked woozy as he went to the sideline. He would soon jog to the locker room, where he was evaluated. Mahomes has a concussion. He was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Backup QB Chad Henne came in. On 4th and inches, Chiefs running back Darrel Williams took off for a first down. Then he gained 17 yards. But the Browns stopped the Chiefs on 3rd down. On 4th down, Kansas City elected to go for a field goal. This time, Butker came through, making a 33-yard field goal to extend the lead. The Chiefs led, 22-10.

The Browns ran all over the Chiefs defense, converting two fourth downs. The eight-minute drive was successful; running back Kareem Hunt ran in for the touchdown. (Hunt formerly played for Kansas City.) That made it 22-17.

A promising Chiefs drive ended horribly. Tyreek Hill made an incredible catch in contested coverage, pinning the ball to his thigh. (Cleveland challenged the play, to no avail.) Then Travis Kelce made a great catch. But it was wiped out by a late flag; a “chopback block” cost them 15 yards. Then Henne threw an interception.

The Browns took over. But the Chiefs defense stepped up. They managed to shut down the Browns offense, forcing Mayfield to throw the ball away and then tackling Kareem Hunt. That gave the Chiefs the ball back. And as the fourth quarter ran under five minutes, the pressure on the Kansas City Chiefs was immense. They had the lead, and the ball. But could they hold on?

Yes! On a heart-stopping final drive, the Chiefs moved down the field. On 3rd and 14, Henne ran 13 yards and dove head-first towards a Browns defender, sacrificing his body to make the play. He came just inches from the first down marker and was ruled just short. On 4th and inches, Chiefs coach Andy Reid made a gamble. But it paid off big: Henne threw to Hill for a first down, ending the game. The Chiefs won, 22-17. They will face the Bills in the AFC Championship Game.

After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid provided background on Mahomes’ injury and condition: “He got hit in the back of the head, and it kind of knocked the wind out of him,” Reid said, “so we took him out. He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive as we looked at this.” Reid added: “He’s actually doing really well. I just talked to him and he’s doing good. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

UPDATE (Jan. 18, 2021): Today, Coach Reid said that Mahomes is still in concussion protocol: “He’s in the protocol, and we’ll just follow that and see how he does here in the next couple days,” Reid said Monday, per Matt McMullen. But Reid admitted: “I can’t tell you from a medical standpoint where he’s at. I don’t know that.”

He added: “There’s a day-to-day plan on that and how they go about it. Especially if a player staggers right there, they’ve got to go through some things. That ends up being important.” It is unclear if Mahomes will be able to play in next week’s AFC Championship Game.

Meanwhile, Mahomes’ backup Chad Henne drew praise for his performance at the end of the game. Tight end Travis Kelce praised Henne for his “gutsy play”, saying: “Everybody knew that he had that in him to be able to put his body on the line for the team, and we love him for it.” Kelce lauded Henne for his professionalism and work ethic: “First of all, he’s a professional. He comes to work every single day, knowing that he’s just a snap away from calling the plays and leading us to victory. Second of all, he’s a competitor, man. That guy — no matter what it is — he’s ready and he’s fired up and ready to go, and we love him for it.”

Dez Bryant Out for MNF, But Ravens Continue Wild Ride With Unforgettable Win

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 8, 2020 (first published Nov. 30; updated Dec. 14)

Tonight’s Ravens-Cowboys game started with high drama.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant was pulled from pregame warmups before tonight’s game against the Dallas Cowboys (his former team). Bryant left practice in order to take a test for COVID-19. (NFL reporter Kevin Seifert says that Bryant had taken a test this morning that came back “inconclusive” after he took the field. That necessitated a follow-up test, which came back positive.)

Less than an hour before game time, Bryant tweeted that he had tested positive for coronavirus. This, of course, would prevent him from playing in tonight’s game. But according to Bryant, he may be out for the rest of the season:

This comes after a dramatic sequence of events for the Ravens. On Monday, November 23, multiple players tested positive for COVID-19 after the Ravens’ loss to the Tennessee Titans. (The players included running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, who tested positive for coronavirus on Nov. 23. Both players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, per the NFL Network. The Ravens shut down their facility, the NFL said.)

On Wednesday, Nov. 25, a scheduled game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed. The match had been scheduled for Thanksgiving night (Nov. 26). But the day before, NPR reported that the game was being postponed, after at least seven Ravens players tested positive for the coronavirus or were in close contact with someone who was infected. The news was confirmed by team releases.

On Thanksgiving night, word broke that four players — including Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — had also tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, the NFL made a major decision. On Friday, Nov. 27, the Ravens-Steelers game was rescheduled to Tuesday, Dec. 1. That decision came after more positive tests by players within the organization. (As a result, the Cowboys-Ravens game was moved to tonight, from its original scheduling of Dec. 4.) On Saturday, six more players were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, per ESPN. That gave Baltimore at total of 17 positive tests.

Ravens’ game versus the Steelers had been rescheduled for Tuesday night, Dec. 1. But additional positive tests mandated another change of plans. On Nov. 30th, the game was rescheduled for the third time, due to COVID-19. This was the first match this season to be rescheduled three times, according to ESPN. (By that point, at least one Ravens player had tested positive for nine straight days, prompting the decision.)

The game was set for Wednesday at 3:40 pm. It was the first Wednesday NFL game since 2012, ESPN says. The game kicked off at 3:40 p.m. because NBC, which is broadcasting the game, wanted to honor its commitment to broadcast a Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday night, sources told ESPN reporter Adam Schefter. The Ravens lost to the Steelers on Wednesday afternoon, marking Pittsburgh’s 11th straight victory.

Players who test positive must quarantine for 10 days. Two other players were put on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list that week, which means they either contracted the coronavirus or came into close contact with someone who had it, according to the Ravens’ roster.

The Ravens officially placed three more starters, including two 2019 Pro Bowlers, on that list last Monday. Tight end Mark Andrews, outside linebacker Matthew Judon and wide receiver Willie Snead IV were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday. Andrews, who is also a Type-1 diabetic, has played every game this season and leads the Ravens in catches (38), receiving yards (454) and touchdown catches (six). Andrews and Judon are both 2019 Pro Bowlers, making it seven Pro Bowlers on the list for Baltimore. As of today (Nov. 30), 21 players have been placed on that list, per the Ravens organization.

Despite all this drama, the Ravens won! The team beat the Cowboys 34-17 in tonight’s game, racking up 294 yards on the ground. Quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed for a 37-yard touchdown, then threw another TD to wide receiver Marquise Brown. RB J.K. Dobbins (who also tested positive for COVID-19) ran in for a touchdown just before the two-minute warning.

Jackson threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns, in spite of his lingering COVID-19 symptoms. “I still can’t really taste or smell, but I’m good now,” he told reporters after the game. “I guess my taste or smell gon’ come back sooner or later…I wouldn’t wish that on nobody, though.”