The Kansas City Chiefs found a way to reach their third straight AFC Championship game, defeating the Cleveland Browns 22-17. The Browns gave the defending champs everything they could handle, but the Chiefs did just enough to escape with a victory. Much of the credit goes to head coach Andy Reid for his management of the game and risky but successful play calls.
There was one point in the game where Reid’s decisions would cost him a chance at winning. Nevertheless, the veteran head coach did what was necessary to get the Chiefs one game away from another Super Bowl trip. Reid’s decision in Week 17 of the regular season is what just saved Kansas City’s season.
Andy Reid starts Chad Henne in Week 17
The Chiefs already clinched the top seed in the AFC and had nothing of importance to play for entering Week 17. Andy Reid and the Chiefs wanted to give their star players an extended break before starting their Super Bowl run. As a result, the Chiefs sat Patrick Mahomes and started Chad Henne in their final regular-season game.
Having Mahomes not playing in the Chiefs’ final game was an interesting decision by Reid. It ruined any chances of Mahomes winning MVP, as he was in a two-person race with Aaron Rodgers for the award. He also ran the risk of his stars being rusty when the AFC Divisional round came up. However, Reid knows what he’s doing, especially when his team has 12-14 days of rest.
Andy Reid coached teams were 26-5 when they play a game after 12-14 days of rest before Sunday’s game. It seems like the 22-year head coach was thinking ahead, focusing on the bigger picture. Plus, Chad Henne has been a serviceable backup, helping Patrick Mahomes grow and mature as a quarterback.
In the season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers, Henne played pretty well. He completed 71% of his passes for 218 yards and two touchdown passes. Kansas City lost the game 38-21, but Henne’s play was the key factor. When he was called on against the Browns, Henne credited him playing in that game for his late-game heroics.
Chad Henne steps in for Patrick Mahomes, leads Chiefs to victory
Was Chad Henne expecting to come in during a crucial playoff game against the Browns? Probably not, and neither was Andy Reid. But that is exactly what happened. Patrick Mahomes was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and Henne had to come in and preserve the Chiefs’ lead. It didn’t start pretty as Henne threw an interception. That was the only mistake Henne made.
Henne did just enough to secure victory for the Chiefs, making two huge plays late in the game. He scrambled for 13 yards on a third-and-14, putting Kansas City in a position to go for it and seal the deal. The next play, Henne threw a pass to Tyreek Hill for the first down. Henne’s clutch plays sparked the “Henne-thing is possible” memes and reactions on social media.
The play where Patrick Mahomes got hurt was a speed option play. Andy Reid faced immediate backlash over the play call, with many bringing up his questionable coaching decisions in previous playoff games. He didn’t let the Mahomes injury shake him, sticking with his gameplan and continuing to flex his football muscles.
Henne finished the game 6/8 for 66 yards and that lone interception. The stats aren’t pretty, but he made enough plays to get the Chiefs to the AFC Championship. He made sure to note his appearance in Week 17 as a reason for his success.
Chad Henne credits Andy Reid starting him in Week 17 for playoff success
Even without their best player on the field, Andy Reid found a way to win. He trusted his backup quarterback to lead the way, and he did. After the game, Henne talked about how Reid giving him the start in a meaningless Week 17 game meant a lot for him, especially in a playoff game.
“Definitely felt more a lot more comfortable out there playing last game of the season against the Chargers. Full week of preparation, feeling the pocket, especially as a quarterback, it’s very important, especially you haven’t been back there for a while, but I felt confident,” said Henne during the postgame press conference.
Being a backup isn’t the most glorious football position, but it is one of the most important. Reid understands this and made sure to put his backup in the best position to succeed, even if it weeks before. “When you’re around him, you just know. Everybody has full confidence in him,” Reid said postgame per ESPN.
It turns out that a Week 17 decision made by Andy Reid just saved the Chiefs’ season. Who knew giving Henne a game at the end of the season would matter so much in the playoffs? Reid didn’t know that at the moment, but his faith in himself and his decision making proved to be beneficial this time around.
All stats courtesy of ESPN