Henne and his key touchdown drive received nothing but positive remarks from KC on Saturday.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars by a final score of 27-20 in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Round contest, but Patrick Mahomes wasn’t the only quarterback on the team to contribute to the win in a significant way.
Near the end of the first quarter, Mahomes suffered a hit that led to his leg bending at an awkward angle. After the play, he limped around and headed off to the sideline briefly before coming back into the game but still being visibly hobbled. On the ensuing Chiefs offensive possession, it was 37-year-old Chad Henne who took the field as the team’s signal-caller.
With 98 yards between Kansas City’s opening line of scrimmage and the Jacksonville end zone, Henne helped march the team down the field and capped things off with a touchdown strike to tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes ultimately returned to action for the second half but after the game, he praised Henne for playing a massive role in allowing that to happen.
“It’s special, man,” Mahomes said of Henne relieving him. “He’s in the playoffs, he didn’t get any reps during the week and he prepares himself to be able to go in for stuff like that. He had a 98-yard drive, backed up in a playoff game against a great opponent. To be able to drive the ball down the field and make some big throws versus some pressure looks — I mean, they brought some heat whenever he came into the game — he made some big throws and was able to get us into the end zone. That was a big point in the game, because that gave me the ability to come back and rest and wait until halftime until we got me re-taped and everything we could to get me ready to go for the second half.”
This wasn’t the first time Henne replaced Mahomes in a big game. In 2021’s Divisional Round of the postseason, Mahomes was unable to maintain his balance following a tough hit by a Cleveland Browns defender. That forced him to leave the game and he didn’t return, subsequently throwing Henne into the fire. Henne played a critical role in securing the win for the Chiefs, allowing them to advance to the AFC Championship Game and giving Mahomes enough time to get back in the starting lineup. Mahomes recalled that game after Saturday’s win, citing it as a reason why Kansas City had full faith in Henne to get the job done.
“The team has so much belief in Chad,” Mahomes said. “He’s done it before. He’s won Divisional [Round] games by coming in and playing, so they had so much belief in Chad. We saw it in that 98-yard drive, he ran the offense the way the offense was supposed to be run. He threw it to the right guys, and guys stepped up and made plays. That’s what a great team does. It’s not about one guy, it’s about the whole team.”
Head coach Andy Reid echoed that same sentiment, saying that Henne’s preparation and readiness led to the team believing that he’d have success in Mahomes’s absence. In all, the veteran completed five of seven passes for 23 yards and the touchdown to Kelce. The long touchdown drive was buoyed by a dropped interception and a 39-yard run by Isiah Pacheco but nonetheless, Henne came off the bench cold and executed to a sufficient degree. For someone who rarely enters the game, even when Kansas City is leading by a sizable margin, that’s impressive.
Much like Mahomes and Reid, Kelce tipped his cap to Henne’s habits. He said that every week, Henne prepares as if he’s going to get the start on Sunday (or Saturday) or as if he’s just one snap away from being put in the game. After a quality job helping buy some time while Mahomes got evaluated, Henne spoke about getting and staying ready.
“I don’t know if it’s just like riding a bike, but you’re always prepared,” Henne said. “With this offense and obviously all the weapons we have and staying prepared each and every moment, I think you just stay ready. When your number is called, you just go in there and do what you did in practice and the meeting rooms and just take it into the game.”