Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs the ball ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) during the first half in the AFC divisional round game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Saturday Divisional Round Recap: Team effort lifts Kansas City over Jacksonville, Philadelphia routs New York wire-to-wire as both No. 1 seeds advance
Chiefs 27, Jaguars 20
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 to kickoff the NFL’s Divisional round late Saturday afternoon, despite an early injury forcing Patrick Mahomes to play on a hobbled right leg for much of the game. Travis Kelce set an NFL record for receptions by a tight end in a playoff game with 14, and scored 2 touchdowns to help both Mahomes and backup quarterback Chad Henne cobble together enough offense to win.
After a defensive stop forced Jacksonville to punt to start the game, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense started marching down field comfortably. Mahomes connected with tight end Travis Kelce four times on the opening drive, a 12-play, 83-yard journey that finished with Kelce’s 8-yard touchdown catch. The Jaguars, familiar with playing from behind, quickly picked up a jolt of momentum from kick returner Jamal Agnew on the ensuing kickoff. Agnew’s return set the Jags up in Chiefs territory, and Jacksonville tied the game five plays later on Christian Kirk’s 10-yard touchdown reception.
Near the end of the first quarter, the raucous crowd at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium briefly fell silent as Patrick Mahomes limped to the Chiefs’ sideline with an injury to his right leg. Mahomes continued to play, but was clearly hampered by the injury. As the quarter came to an end, the Kansas City quarterback hobbled to the sidelines seeking medical treatment. The Chiefs would manage to finish the drive with a field goal, going ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter. During Jacksonville’s next possession, Mahomes was visibly frustrated while being escorted into the locker room for additional treatment and evaluation. 37-year-old backup quarterback Chad Henne took over at quarterback for the Chiefs on their next drive, and quickly led his team into Jaguars territory. Kansas City’s offensive line repeatedly opened up holes for rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, who ran with purpose to set up Henne’s one-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. All told, the drive covered 98 yards over 12 plays and put Kansas City ahead, 17-7.
The Jaguars would add a field goal heading into halftime, cutting the deficit to a touchdown at the break.
Despite a heavy limp, Patrick Mahomes took the field with the Chiefs’ offense to begin the third quarter. Still, the Jacksonville and Kansas City defenses dominated the quarter. The Chiefs and Jaguars combined for four consecutive punts before Harrison Butker’s second field goal of the night accounted for the third quarter’s only points and put Kansas City up 20-10.
Trailing by two possessions, the Jaguars’ offense once again came alive early in the fourth quarter. Trevor Lawrence connected with Zay Jones on a 37-yard pass deep into Chiefs territory, and Travis Etienne burrowed into the end zone from four yards away to pull Jacksonville back within a field goal.
Travis Kelce continued to haul in catch after catch as Kansas City looked to extend the lead on the following drive. The Chiefs would eventually do just that, extending their advantage to 27-17 with seven minutes left when Patrick Mahomes jumped in the air off of one leg and found Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the back of the end zone from six yards away.
Hoping to pull back within a score, Trevor Lawrence led the Jaguars on another promising looking drive. After Lawrence ran inside the Chiefs 10-yard line to convert a third-and-10 for the Jaguars, he completed a promising looking pass to Jamal Agnew – but Agnew fumbled. The turnover was a crushing blow to Jacksonville, who suddenly needed to overcome a two-score deficit with just five minutes left.
The Jaguars did earn the football back with a defensive stop, but their next drive ended abruptly when Jaylen Watson acrobatically picked off Trevor Lawrence. Jaguars’ kicker Riley Patterson added a field goal to his team’s tally in the game’s final seconds, but it was far too little and too late.
With the win, the Chiefs advance to their fifth-consecutive AFC Championship game. Kansas City will either take on the Buffalo Bills at a neutral site in Atlanta or host the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.
Eagles 38, Giants 7
The Philadelphia Eagles buried the New York Giants 38-7 in Saturday night’s NFC Divisional round matchup to punch their ticket to the NFC Championship. The Eagles jumped out to an early advantage and never looked back, outgaining the hapless Giants 416 yards to 227. Philadelphia finished the night with 268 yards rushing, averaging more than six yards per carry. Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked five times and struggled to get much of anything going on offense all night.
The Eagles’ offense wasted no time finding its rhythm on the game’s first drive after last week’s bye, quickly advancing into Giants territory on quarterback Jalen Hurts’ deep pass to wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Philadelphia capped off the 8-play, 75-yard opening drive with tight end Dallas Goedert’s 16-yard touchdown catch, taking an early 7-0 lead. After New York came up short on fourth down on the drive that followed, Philadelphia picked up right where it left off. This time, Jalen Hurts connected with DeVonta Smith for a bubble-screen touchdown on the eighth play of Philly’s drive, putting the Eagles ahead 14-0 in the first quarter. When Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was picked off near midfield as the first quarter came to an end, the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field was beginning to feel like an avalanche burying the Giants’ hopes of reaching the NFC Championship.
Philadelphia, which ran 24 of its first 28 offensive plays in Giants territory, punched in a third touchdown when running back Boston Scott plowed into the end zone midway through the second quarter. Ahead 21-0, the Eagles continued to attack relentlessly. Jalen Hurts ran in a 5-yard touchdown with 43 seconds to go in the half, and Philadelphia took a 28-0 lead into the locker room. The Eagles outgained the Giants 258 yards to 64 in the first half and picked up 18 first downs to New York’s three.
New York finally put together a solid drive in the third quarter, setting up shop in Eagles territory after Saquon Barkley’s 39-yard run. Later in the drive, Barkley’s handoff to his backup Matt Breida resulted in an 8-yard Giants touchdown to make it 28-7. But when New York elected to punt early in the fourth quarter instead of going for it on fourth down, it seemingly waved the white flag in acknowledgment that the Giants’ expectation-shattering season was coming to an end. Still, the decision to punt was puzzling given that more than 13 minutes still remained on the clock.
As the fourth quarter wore on, Philadelphia milked the clock with a consistently successful rushing attack. After a 15-play drive by the Eagles ran eight minutes off the clock, Jake Elliott’s field goal with 5:16 to go extended Philadelphia’s lead to 31-7. The Giants’ final possession ended with a turnover on downs, setting up the Eagles with an opportunity to run out the clock and call it a night. Instead, Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell broke free for a 35-yard run to make it 38-7 with 1:51 remaining.
The Eagles will stay home for next Sunday’s NFC Championship game, their first since 2018’s Super Bowl run. Sunday night’s NFC Divisional round game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will determine their opponent.