The story of this game starts and ends with the ankle injury sustained by Patrick Mahomes in the first half, which could have huge implications on the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff hopes moving forward.
Though they were outmatched by Kansas City from the start, the Jacksonville Jaguars fought hard in this game, and certainly gave the Chiefs a run for their money. With just more one game standing between Kansas City and a shot at another Super Bowl ring, Mahomes will need to lick his wounds in the coming days to win a crucial game next week.
Here are four key takeaways from the Chiefs’ Divisional Round win over the Jaguars:
Travis Kelce was the offense's brightest star after Mahomes' injury
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Kelce brought in 14 receptions on 17 targets in this matchup, ending the game just two yards shy of triple digits in yardage and with a touchdown to show for his effort. He provided a reliable outlet for Chad Henne in the backup’s limited action, and though he and Mahomes looked a bit out of sync in the second half, he still managed to make a huge impact on the game’s outcome.
If Mahomes is unable to play at full strength next weekend, watch for Kelce to play a massive role in the Chiefs’ game plan as they look to best their next opponent.
Derrick Nnadi's third-quarter sack might be the play of the weekend
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Nnadi has been a solid contributor on the Chiefs’ defense for some time now but isn’t exactly known for making eye-popping plays as a pass rusher. That changed against the Jaguars, as his sack of Trevor Lawrence in the third quarter might prove to be the most exciting highlight play of the weekend.
Check out the play here, and notice how quickly Nnadi got into the pocket to level Lawrence:
With more plays like this against their opponent in the AFC Championship game, Nnadi could make a name for himself as one of the key presences on the Chiefs’ defensive line.
Isiah Pacheco led the way for Kansas City on the ground
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Without the ability to work his improvisational magic, Mahomes turned to rookie running back Isiah Pacheco to get the offense rolling on the ground. It worked to remarkable effect and helped Kansas City keep the Jaguars off the field while giving the Chiefs’ defense time to regroup.
In a game that came down to just a one-score lead at the final whistle, Pacheco’s excellent performance made all the difference. If Mahomes has the benefit of another career day from Pacheco next week, the Chiefs could find themselves in the Super Bowl.
Late interception proves that Chiefs defense can shine in big moments
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Kansas City’s defense has had a hard time against certain opponents this season but seems to have saved their best football for the end of the year. Trevor Lawrence’s second-half effort against the Los Angeles Chargers last week was well documented, and for the Chiefs to have held him to just 20 total points and under 225 yards passing feels like something of a miracle.
Rookie cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Trent McDuffie helped keep Kansas City’s secondary a step ahead of the Jaguars’ receiving corps, and Frank Clark managed to get into the action in the pass rush with a sack. When the Chiefs’ defense plays like they did against Jacksonville, they are nearly unbeatable.