Not even a multitude of self-inflicted mistakes, nor the Jacksonville Jaguars could stop the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at EverBank Stadium. The Chiefs sputtered through a sloppy first half, but still managed to lead the Jags at halftime, and then they woke up in the second half to come away with a 17-9 victory.
It was a rematch of last season’s AFC Divisional Playoff game, which Kansas City won at home 27-20. This game, however, was quite a bit different. Jacksonville could never get going offensively, and although the Jags did move the chains between the 20s, they continuously had to settle for field goals.
Meanwhile, Kansas City, with star tight end Travis Kelce back in the lineup after missing the opener with a bruised knee, got untracked. Kelce did not catch his first pass until the 3:03 mark of the second quarter, but that jump-started the All-Pro.
The Chiefs led 7-6 at halftime, and then took the opening possession of the second half 75 yards to score on a Patrick Mahomes to Kelce 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-6. Kelce caught four passes for 26 yards and the touchdown.
The Jags managed another Brandon McManus field goal, his third of the game, to start the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs took the ball right back down the field. Mahomes spread the ball around to 12 different receivers, finding open targets all day. The Chiefs’ third scoring drive culminated in a Harrison Butker 38-yard field goal to set the final margin at 17-9.
Jacksonville quaterback Trevor Lawrence (22-of-41 passing, for 216 yards) never seemed to get comfortable in the pocket, constantly avoiding the Chiefs pass rush. Despite the numerous Kansas City miscues, especially in the first half, Jacksonville was unable to take advantage. The Jags managed just 74 yards rushing against a stingy Chiefs defense.
The Jags led 3-0 early when they got a gift in the form of a muffed punt by the Chiefs’ Richie James. The ball was recovered by Tim Jones at the Kansas City 17-yard line, but Jacksonville could only muster a McManus field goal.
The Jags offense finally woke up in the middle of the fourth quarter. Lawrence scrambled for 18 yards to get the Jags inside the Chiefs 35-yard line, but once again, they stalled out and turned the ball over on downs at the Kansas CIty 16-yard line with 4:23 left to play. Kansas City ran out the clock from there.
Kansas City had 13 penalties for the game, as well as three turnovers, but the Jags never fully capitalized. Mahomes completed 29 of 41 passes for 305 yards and the two touchdowns.