Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Raoux/AP/Shutterstock (13701936eh) Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (2) celebrate their hit that forced a fumble and their return for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Jacksonville, Fla Titans Jaguars Football, Jacksonville, United States – 07 Jan 2023
NFL Saturday Recap, Week 18: Chiefs rout Raiders, Jaguars clinch second-ever AFC South title and will host first-ever playoff game
Chiefs 31, Raiders 13
The Kansas City Chiefs capped off the 2022 regular season with a 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, finishing 14-3 on the season and guaranteeing that they’ll have wild card weekend off before hosting a divisional round playoff game. Kansas City finished the game 4-for-5 in the red zone with four touchdowns, only failing to score when it let the final seconds of the clock run out with a big lead. The Chiefs dominated the game with their offense, averaging more than six yards per play both passing and rushing.
The Chiefs were greeted by a sea of red despite playing on the road, as Kansas City fans completely took over Allegiant Stadium for Saturday’s season finale. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes gave them something to cheer about immediately, pushing the football down field in a hurry to start the game. Mahomes connected with Justin Watson on a 67-yard catch and run on the game’s second play from scrimmage, and found Jerick McKinnon on a short shovel pass for a touchdown moments later. The Raiders responded with a 54-yard Daniel Carlson field goal on the ensuing drive, making it 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
Kansas City’s next scoring drive began in Raiders’ territory thanks to an interception by Juan Thornhill, and finished just three plays later when running back Ronald Jones found the end zone from two yards away on the first snap of the second quarter. After a fourth down stop deep in its own territory gave Kansas City the football back at its own two-yard line later in the second quarter, Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs on yet another march into Las Vegas territory. Kadarius Toney capped off the drive by taking an end-around handoff into the end zone for an 11-yard score, extendinging Kansas City’s lead to 21-3 with 47 seconds left before halftime.
Las Vegas shot itself in the foot with several penalties before halftime, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham ultimately fumbled the ball back to the Chiefs on a second-and-27 sack. Kansas City kicked a field goal two plays later to extend its lead to 24-3 at halftime.
The Raiders’ offense looked crisp on its first possession of the second half, steadily working its way into Chiefs’ territory with a balanced attack. Las Vegas ultimately settled for Daniel Carlson’s second field goal of the game and still trailed, 24-6. That 18-point deficit would remain into the fourth quarter after the teams combined for four consecutive punts.
Kansas City delivered a dagger into the Raiders’ hearts with its first offensive possession of the fourth quarter, a 7-play, 62-yard trip that ended with Isiah Pacheco’s short touchdown run. The score pushed the Chiefs’ lead to 31-6 with 11 minutes left in the game. Las Vegas, who had moved the ball well all afternoon, finally answered with just under seven minutes left when Jarrett Stidham connected for a touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow to cap off a 75-yard drive.
Patrick Mahomes was pulled from the game for the final four minutes, finishing 18-for-26 with 202 passing yards and a touchdown. Chad Henne handled business from there, preserving the blowout road win.
Kansas City will await its divisional round opponent while enjoying a well-earned bye week, while Las Vegas ends its season 6-11 without a playoff appearance.
Next Week: Kansas City: Wild Card Bye, Las Vegas: N/A
Jaguars 20, Titans 16
The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Tennessee Titans in Saturday night’s regular season finale for both teams, 20-16. With the win, Jacksonville clinches its second-ever AFC South title, and will host either the Baltimore Ravens or the Los Angeles Chargers in next weekend’s wild card round.
Saturday night’s game in Jacksonville was a refreshing sight for the locals – a packed, enthusiastic crowd on hand for the Jaguars’ opportunity to clinch the AFC South over the rival Titans. Each offense started slowly, but Tennessee broke the seal with the game’s first points on its second drive. The Titans covered 51 yards over 17 grueling plays, converting two fourth downs en route to Randy Bullock’s 51-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Jacksonville finally found a rhythm on offense early in the second quarter, driving down to the Titans 22-yard line. Right when the Jaguars looked poised to score, an attempt at a trick play went horribly wrong and resulted in a fumble recovered by Tennessee. The Titans took full advantage of their good fortune, pressing downfield over seven plays and extending their lead to 10-0 on quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ 21-yard touchdown connection with tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo.
The Jaguars moved the football downfield effectively again on their next drive, and finally finished the job. Trevor Lawrence hit Christian Kirk on a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Titans’ lead to 10-7 with 2:36 to play before halftime. Tennessee added its second field goal before halftime, extending the lead to 13-7 at the break.
Each team kicked a field goal to open up the second half, giving the Titans a 16-10 lead midway through the third quarter. After a punt by Jacksonville gave Tennessee an opportunity to open up a two-score lead, momentum began to turn the Jaguars’ way. First, a punishing run deep into Jacksonville territory was called back due to a holding penalty. Moments later, Joshua Dobbs’ third-and-17 pass was intercepted by Jaguars’ defensive back Tyson Campbell and returned back to Tennessee’s 25-yard line. Still, Jacksvonville settled for only a field goal, and the de facto AFC South title game moved into the fourth quarter with the Titans ahead, 16-13.
As the second half wore on, the Titans’ defense held strong. Tennessee forced Jacksonville to punt twice in the fourth quarter, and suddenly the Titans seemed to be in full control with Derrick Henry running downhill and the clock ticking under five minutes.
Still, when forced into a third down with three minutes left, the Titans elected to throw for it. Joshua Dobbs was hit in the process of trying to pass by Jacksonville safety Rayshawn Jenkins, and the ball came loose before his arm could move forward with possession of it. Linebacker Josh Allen made the fumble recovery for the Jaguars, ran it 37 yards into the end zone, and sent the TIAA Bank Field crowd into a frenzy. Jacksonville took a 20-16 lead with the score, placing all of the game’s pressure squarely on Titans’ quarterback Joshua Dobbs to find a go-ahead touchdown in the final three minutes.
Jacksonville’s defense came up with the stop it needed, preserving the franchise’s second-ever AFC South title and its first since 2017. The two turnovers forced by the Jags’ defense ultimately made the difference on a night that their offense struggled with Tennessee’s defensive front all night. The Jaguars will host a playoff game for the first time in franchise history next weekend.
Next Week: Jacksonville: vs. either Baltimore or L.A. Chargers (AFC Wild Card Round), Tennessee: N/A