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Grades for Chiefs versus Browns

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

On Sunday, the Chiefs advanced to their third straight AFC Championship Game with a Divisional Round win over the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs will host their third straight AFC Championship Game next Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Let’s dive into the report card for the Chiefs on Sunday’s victory.

Pass Offense: B+

Patrick Mahomes was playing a great game before he was forced to leave the game to be evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter. He was 21/30 passing for 255 yards and one touchdown with a 106.9 passer rating. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill made their mark all over the field as well. Kelce scored his sixth touchdown reception in the past five postseason games for the Chiefs (7th total in his career), which was a part of his eight receptions and 109 receiving yards. Hill added eight receptions of his own for 110 yards, including the game-clinching reception with 1:14 remaining.

The interception by Henne is what dampens the passing offense. It appeared he was looking deep for Demarcus Robinson and the pass went right into the hand of Karl Joseph. However, Henne made some great throws, including the 23-yard completion to Hill and the first down completion to Darrel Williams. The game-clinching completion to Hill is arguably the best play of his career as he stepped up and made the plays necessary to win.

Rushing Offense: A

The Chiefs rushing attack was the difference in the game. With starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire out for the game and Le’Veon Bell not seeing the field much, running back Darrel Williams was given the call as starter. He took advantage of it and ran for a career-high 78 yards on 13 carries in his first career start.

Don’t forget about Mahomes rushing touchdown on the first drive of the game to give the Chiefs an early lead. He finished with 14 total rushing yards. Chad Henne came up big in the run game with his 13-yard rush to set u fourth and short before the game-clinching play. The Chiefs totaled 126 rushing yards on the day, which beat the third-best rushing offense in the NFL.

Passing Defense: B+

The passing defense made big plays throughout the game. Rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed recorded his first postseason sack and a tackle for loss. Daniel Sorensen made one of the biggest plays of the game by jarring the ball loose from Rashard Higgins, who fumbled out of the back of the endzone for a touchback. To start the second half, Tyrann Mathieu came up with his first career postseason interception off Baker Mayfield.

Late in the game, cornerback Charvarious Ward made an open-field tackle on former Chief, Kareem Hunt, to force a punt, and the Browns wouldn’t touch the ball again. Overall, there were some busted coverages on receptions made by David Njoku and other plays, but when the defense needed to make a play, they did.

Rushing Defense: A-

Going into Sunday’s game, the Chiefs defense ranked 21st in the NFL, allowing over 122 rushing yards per game. Going up against Cleveland, who has one of the best running back duos (if not the best) in the league and ranked third in rushing yards per game, averaging over 170 per contest, was going to be a challenge.

The Chiefs defense stood up to the challenge and held the Browns rushing attack to 18 yards in the first half. The second half opened up the run game more for the Cleveland offense, but the defense held a top rushing offense to under 112 yards. The duo of Chubb and Hunt combined for just over 100 yards on Sunday. The Chiefs defense stepped up big time against the run and it was a big factor in them pulling out the win.

Special Teams: C-

Harrison Butker has to figure it out from PAT range. He missed the first point-after attempt and would later miss a field goal from the same distance after the Mathieu interception. The trio of Butter, Townsend, and Winchester have to turn it around before these misses cost the team games. However, Butker did convert on three of his four field-goal attempts, which improved his grading. He also set an Arrowhead record for the longest field goal in a postseason game.

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