Another fast start by the opponent, would not deny the Kansas City Chiefs of reaching their ultimate goal in the end. The defense did a fine job in handling the hottest rusher in the league in Derrick Henry. Meanwhile, the offense continued to strike for explosive plays throughout the contest. What major moments led to the Chiefs victory over the Tennessee Titans? Let’s kick if off, with our game recap of the AFC Championship Game.
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Laying The Wood
The story most will look towards in this game, is the 28-0 run that Kansas City went on. However, this defense hit Henry hard and often to keep him bottled up. Steve Spagnuolo‘s game plan looked designed to do just that. They relied on defensive alignments and plugging all of the gaps. Having Chris Jones back obviously helped. But, he was used primarily in passing downs. Really all players in the front seven made an impact.
In particular, Frank Clark was eager to talk some trash entering the matchup against Henry. He backed it up, and was active near the ball during most plays. Once him and others started to lay the wood on Henry his motor deteriorated. Anthony Hitchens mentioned last week before the game that they would need to hit Henry low to “kill the engine.” That is exactly what happened. The Chiefs defense stopped the Titans run game and forced Ryan Tannehill to beat them through the air with splash plays.
Patrick Mahomes had another very impressive game. He once again extended plays to set up big gains through the air. Elsewhere, his 27 yard touchdown run uplifted every generation of Chiefs fans. As he usually does, Mahomes spread the ball around to his group of receivers. There were throws that he got off quickly with ample anticipation. Other passes, were pin point darts that were just too tough for Tennessee defenders to stop.
Additionally, the play calling was smart, aggressive and calculated. This was a spectacularly designed game by Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy. They utilized the blazing speed of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins to their disposal. Also, Kansas City was actually committed to running the ball to a degree. Mahomes led the rushing attack in yardage. Yet, Damien Williams was running tough and churning out extra yards after contact. He was just as essential to the Chiefs in the passing game, as he was the running game.
This attention to detail of pounding the rock in the second half, allowed for Kansas City to eat up seven minutes off the clock. No points were scored in the third quarter. When the Chiefs scored to cap off their lengthy seven minute drive, it was just two plays into the fourth quarter. A good amount of time still remained in the contest. Nonetheless, it was now a two score game after the rushing touchdown by Williams. Every decision turned out to be the right one to take down the Titans.
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Turning The Tables
Tennessee won their first two playoff games, because they were flawless and forced opponents to make mistakes. Mike Vrabel did a nice job in smartly coaching his team. However, things changed in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs were the ones forcing their opponent to alter plans. Tannehill had to be perfect and dynamic to beat Kansas City over the top.
There were definitely moments where he was successful. Throws over the middle to AJ Brown, Jonnu Smith or Adam Humphries proved to be deadly. The Titans offensive line also had their moments of being stout with their protection.
In the passing game, the Chiefs made adjustments. Tyrann Mathieu continued to fly all over the field. His hit on Corey Davis boomed throughout the air in Arrowhead Stadium. Dirty Dan Sorensen did just as much damage. Henry gained a first down on one run, but it was Sorensen who held on for dear life to start the undoing of the running game. He even put a large lick on Tannehill. This secondary may give up some yards through the air. On the other hand, the Chiefs are just as capable of being robust against the skill players.
Forcing Their Hand
Not only did the Chiefs make the Titans throw more than the last two weeks, they also executed more in areas where Tennessee had been near perfect. Kansas City was more deadly in the red zone than Tennessee. The Titans entered this game near the top of the league in red zone efficiency. Being able to hold Tannehill and Co. to a field goal on the first drive was a major win for the Chiefs.
To boot, the Chiefs matched Tennessee in converting on crucial short third down situations. Whenever Mahomes needed to fit it to Travis Kelce in tight coverage he did. When KC needed a timely sack or stop, they got it done. As the Chiefs have done all season, they believed they could accomplish anything. Another early deficit had no bearings when the clock hit zero on Sunday. The Chiefs shored up areas of their team that prevented them from winning the AFC last year. Now, they have one more goal to finish after winning the Lamar Hunt Trophy in the stadium that he built.
Who would have thought entering Week 17 the Miami Dolphins would upset the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Kansas City wound up with home field advantage and would go on to host the AFC title game for the second consecutive season. They already defeated two teams that they lost to during the regular season. Now, the Chiefs meet a team just as explosive, nasty or dangerous as them in Super Bowl LIV. This team is now back in the big game for the first time in a half century. So much excitement will be built up for the matchup between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. What a game we will get to see in two weeks.
We will have plenty of Chiefs and Super Bowl coverage over the next two weeks. Be on the lookout for all of our articles and podcasts. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
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