Four Takeaways From the Chiefs’ 27-20 Win Over the Jaguars

Here are four overarching thoughts on the Chiefs’ Divisional Round game against the Jaguars.

The Kansas City Chiefs came into the Divisional Round of the playoffs mostly healthy after coming off a bye week, but things didn’t stay that way for long. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a right leg injury in the first quarter that threw the balance of the game off-kilter, although the team weathered the storm and went into the halftime locker room with a seven-point lead. Once Mahomes returned for the second half, Kansas City did more than enough on both sides to take care of business and escape with a 27-20 victory. With the win, the Chiefs will advance to their fifth straight AFC Championship Game. 

Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s game.

1. There aren’t enough words to describe Patrick Mahomes

It probably goes without saying that the Chiefs can’t get where they want to go this season unless Patrick Mahomes is leading the way. Chad Henne did an admirable job in brief relief of him and has done the same in the past but when it comes down to winning multiple postseason contests, that potential deep playoff run doesn’t happen without Mahomes. He’s the heart, soul and everything else for the Chiefs. 

While the Chiefs’ star quarterback was obviously hobbled in the second half, the fact that his X-rays came back negative is tremendous news for the team. Mahomes being on the field is an immeasurable plus, even if he isn’t 100%, and he showed it in the fourth quarter with a classic MVP moment. All-time greats have several storybook moments throughout their careers, and gutting it out to come back in and contribute to a Divisional Round victory will go down as an important page in this chapter of Mahomes’s career. 

2. Some non-Mahomes notes on offense

Mahomes naturally gets a great deal of praise due to his highlight-reel plays and his overall greatness, and for good reason, but he also had some players pick him up in a major way on offense. Running back Isiah Pacheco was effective on the ground and had a 39-yard scamper in the first half that helped keep the offense afloat with Henne under center. Tight end Travis Kelce received a very healthy dose of targets and passed Julian Edelman for the third-most catches in playoff history. Kadarius Toney also made multiple nice plays. In the second half, the Chiefs’ offensive line did a quality job keeping Mahomes clean. It wasn’t always pretty, but multiple members of Kansas City’s offense helped get the job done against a tough opponent. 

3. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense deserves respect

For a large chunk of the season, the Chiefs’ defense was subject to a ton of criticism for having poor coverage in the middle of the field, allowing too many points per drive, not generating turnovers, or a combination of other things. In spite of that, Steve Spagnuolo’s unit stepped up once Mahomes got injured and held the Jaguars in check on multiple possessions and surrendered just 20 points overall. Trevor Lawrence got pressured, a handful of punts were forced and Jacksonville turned the football over twice. Kansas City’s defense was far from perfect on Saturday, but it once again flashed the ability to be a unit that — if the offense is playing to its potential — can contribute to a Super Bowl-winning program.

4. Harrison Butker saved the day on special teams

The Chiefs’ special teams unit, like the defense, has been questioned quite a bit over the course of the year. The group was subject to one or more mistakes on various occasions during the regular season, and a 63-yard kickoff return in the first quarter made things look like they were headed down that path again. In what was perhaps his best game of the season, however, kicker Harrison Butker drained a pair of 50-yard field goal attempts and also saved what may have been a touchdown on a second-half kickoff return. If Butker is back to his old self (2021 and prior) for the rest of the postseason run, that would benefit the Chiefs in a significant way. It’s impossible to tell when an outing could come down to the leg of a kicker.