When the Cleveland Browns faced the Kansas City Chiefs in January 2021, they were losing in the third quarter, and it looked nearly impossible to stop Patrick Mahomes from leading the Chiefs to the next round. But then, one hit in the third quarter left Mahomes dizzy and out with a concussion. In the blink of an eye, there seemed to be hope for Cleveland, as backup Chad Henne was their quarterback the rest of the way.
The Browns were trailing 22-10 heading to the fourth quarter, and scored a touchdown with 11:07 remaining to make it a 22-17 game. Then, they got an interception with eight minutes to go, needing one touchdown drive to possibly advance to the AFC Championship. Unfortunately, the offense had to punt with four minutes to go, banking on being able to stop Henne once more. At the two-minute warning, the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-14, thanks to a sack by DE Myles Garrett. A stop would allow then-quarterback Baker Mayfield a chance to win it with 1:10 remaining. Instead, here’s what happened, from my own words:
Of all things, Henne freaking scrambled and ran and dove for the first down. It looked like he got it, but the officials marked him just short, setting up 4th-and-1. They went for it. They lulled the Browns to sleep, acting like they weren’t going for it. Then, with 7 seconds left on the playclock, they snapped it and completed the quick out to Hill for the first down. Ballgame.
Chiefs eliminate the Browns out of the Playoffs after this AMAZING play call from Reid and Bieniemy!— Blue Collar Media Group (@BlueCollarMG) January 17, 2021
Chiefs had to finish the game without Mahomes but, Chad Henne saved the day. AFC Championship will be played in Kansas City against the Buffalo Bills. #CHIEFSKINGDOM #CLEvsKC pic.twitter.com/oa6KfcZOlV
Flashforward to today, as Browns fans are watching the Jaguars vs. Chiefs game, with Jacksonville basically being in the same position that the Browns were two years ago. Kansas City’s offense was rolling and up 10-7 in the second quarter, when this happened:
The play where Patrick Mahomes injured his ankle pic.twitter.com/D1fABSL414— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 21, 2023
Mahomes finished the drive hobbling. But the next time they got the ball after the Jaguars had punted to the 2 yard line, it was Henne under center. Immediately, I flashed back to his game-clinching effort against the Browns, and wondered if Jacksonville would be able to stay in the game, and if Henne would also come through in the clutch again.
The circumstances ended up being slightly different, since Mahomes returned after halftime and played the whole second half. However, one thing was common in both games: Henne had a big playoff moment. Despite starting that drive at the 2-yard line, he helped lead a 98-yard touchdown drive, the longest in postseason history for the Chiefs, capping it off with a 1-yard touchdown pass to TE Travis Kelce. Adding insult to injury, included on that drive was the same play call that Andy Reid used to clinch the game against the Browns two years earlier:
If that 3rd down conversion looks familiar: it’s the same play the Chiefs ran on 4th down with Chad Henne to seal a victory over the Browns two playoffs ago.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 21, 2023
Although Mahomes missed parts of the second quarter, Kansas City wasn’t harmed by it because Henne led as good of a drive as one could’ve asked for. That’s what you want from your backup quarterback, and Henne has done it twice in big moments. That makes him worth every penny he’s making as a backup.
The Chiefs went on to secure the victory 27-20, advancing to the AFC Championship again.