The Kansas City Chiefs just had to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday to both stay in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC and to win the AFC West for the seventh year in a row.
It took extra time for the Chiefs to get it done, with the 14.5-point favorites getting a timely takeaway and a walk-off touchdown in overtime to hold off the worst team in the NFL 30-24.
While numerous Chiefs put up impressive statistics in Sunday’s win, notably including quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City was scoreless in the first quarter and trailed at the half. However, the offense did show signs of life in the second quarter.
Mahomes found running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for scores, though a missed extra point by Harrison Butker kept the Chiefs from knotting the score before the break.
The Texans, meanwhile, reached nearly their season average for points per game bin the first half by scoring a touchdown in each of the first two quarters. Houston employed a two-quarterback system for the second straight week, switching between Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel under center. Each quarterback recorded marginal success, but as the game progressed Mills became the go-to quarterback.
Houston didn’t have its top three offensive weapons on Sunday, either. Running back Dameon Pierce was placed on injured reserve this week, while receivers Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins were both inactive.
In the second half, the lead changed three times with the Chiefs starting to develop some momentum offensively while still not making enough stops on the defensive end. With Kansas City ahead by three with just over five minutes remaining, Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn drilled a chip-shot field goal to tie the game.
A pair of fumbles didn’t help matters for the Chiefs, with rookie running back Isiah Pacheco and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster each losing a fumble, though the latter’s game on a controversial call in the third quarter.
“After the first few drives I thought we kind of got it going offensively a little bit, but when you turn the ball over it keeps teams in games,” Mahomes said, adding: “If you give teams life like that, they’re going to make it a battle.”
The Chiefs had one last chance to win, reaching the Texans’ 33-yard line on their final drive of regulation, but Butker missed a 51-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
McKinnon, defensive end Frank Clark and linebacker Willie Gay made the biggest plays of the extra session to help Kansas City survive. After the Chiefs punted on the first possession of overtime, Clark knocked the ball out of Mills’ hands and Gay recovered the fumble, ripping the ball away from Texans running back Dare Ogunbowale on the ground at the Houston 26-yard line.
One play later, McKinnon broke free on a run to the left, raced through the defense and scored to end the game.
Mahomes completed his final 20 passes of the game and finished 36-of-41 for 336 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing score. He’s now thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game and gone over 300 yards passing in a game nine times each this season.
“If he’s not the MVP of the league, I’m not sure what’s wrong with it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said about his quarterback.
McKinnon ended up with 122 yards from scrimmage, carrying the ball 10 times for 52 yards and making eight catches for another 70 yards and a touchdown.
Two Chiefs had 10 receptions in the game, with tight end Travis Kelce posting 105 yards and Smith-Schuster adding another 88 through the air.
Mills went 12-of-24 passing in the losing effort, gaining 121 yards through the air along with two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, similar to Mahomes’ scoring output. Driskel attempted just four pass, completing two of them for eight yards. He also ran the ball four times for eight yards.
Kansas City’s defense limited Houston to 219 total yards of offense, the second-lowest total allowed by the Chiefs this season behind the 198 they gave up to the Rams in Week 12. They did, however, allow the Texans to score more than 20 points for just the sixth time in 14 games this season.
Reid was complimentary of the Texans’ effort after the game.
“In today’s world, in the NFL, you can’t go by the record,” Reid said.
With the win, the Chiefs have now won the AFC West for the seventh season in a row, and they’re still alive in hunt for the top spot in the AFC playoffs. They have the same record as the Buffalo Bills, who beat the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, but the Bills still maintain the top spot in the playoff picture due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
After a three-game road trip, Kansas City will be back home for two of its final three games, including next weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. That game is scheduled for a noon kickoff on Saturday, Dec. 24.
For more reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ 30-24 overtime win over the Houston Texans, check out Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-3:00 p.m., and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-6:00 p.m. Monday on 580 WIBW.