The most imposing feature of the Chiefs’ offense just might be the buffet of playmakers available to Mahomes. The star of their second drive was Mecole Hardman, who caught two passes for 51 yards — including a nifty 42-yard catch-and-sprint — and, in a way, helped Travis Kelce breach the goal line on his 20-yard touchdown catch five plays later.
Faking out Browns cornerback Denzel Ward, Kelce caught the ball over the middle at the Cleveland 13-yard line, turned and rumbled toward the end zone. Jumping from the 4-yard line, Kelce landed atop Hardman, who was out front blocking, and fell in for the score. This time, Harrison Butker made the extra point, and the Chiefs lead, 13-3.
Through two drives, Mahomes has been nothing short of spectacular, completing eight of nine passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. But he did enter the blue medical tent because of what CBS reported as a left toe injury. After a brief stay, Mahomes returned to the sideline, and presumably will return for the Chiefs’ next possession.
Patrick Mahomes & Travis Kelce (20-yard TD)
🔸 Completion Probability: 82.4%
🔸 Expected YAC: 12
🔸 TD Probability: 50.2%*
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 17, 2021
Teams generally don’t beat the Chiefs by answering touchdowns with field goals. But the Browns will happily accept 3 points after reaching as far as the Kansas City 20-yard line before their drive stalled.
Still, it was an impressive beginning for Cleveland’s offense, which lost the superb rookie offensive tackle Jedrick Wills to injury on the first play of the drive. His return is questionable.
Browns LT Jedrick Wills is questionable to return due to an ankle injury sustained on the first offensive play. A major loss if he can’t come back.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 17, 2021
Baker Mayfield converted the first two third downs, finding tight end Austin Hooper in the flat on third-and-10 before racing around the right tackle for a 6-yard gain on third-and-4. The biggest play came from Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who blitzed Mayfield off the edge and sacked him for an 8-yard loss, setting up a third-and-21 from the Kansas City 31-yard line. Two plays later, Cody Parkey drilled a 46-yard field goal to get Cleveland on the board. The Chiefs lead, 6-3.
The Kansas City Chiefs hadn’t played in two weeks, which means they had two weeks to mend, two weeks to fine-tune their offense, two weeks to figure out what they do best and how they would unspool it against their opponent Sunday. On their opening drive, the Chiefs ran the ball six times — giving it twice to speedster Tyreek Hill, who accounted for 34 yards — before capping their 10-play, 5-minute-49-second drive with a 1-yard run by Patrick Mahomes, who, unsurprisingly, showed no evidence of rust. After Harrison Butker hooked the point-after attempt wide left, the Chiefs lead, 6-0.
A CBS broadcast of the N.F.L. playoff game between the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs was briefly cut off for viewers in New York and some other areas on the East Coast on Sunday, prompting complaints and confusion among viewers and a scramble to find other ways to watch the game.
The outage began about 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff at 3:05 p.m. Eastern time, during the network’s pregame show as a segment with the analyst Bill Cowher interviewing Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski was nearing an end. Some viewers saw blank screens while others were not able to tune to the channel or saw error messages indicating CBS was unavailable.
The outage lasted about 30 minutes, returning just after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran in the game’s first touchdown and Harrison Butker missed an extra point attempt (that’s why the score was 6-0, in case you missed it).
Almost immediately after noticing the failure, viewers began voicing their confusion and outrage on social media. The failure seemed to primarily affect the New York metropolitan area and some other parts of the Northeast, and the telecast appeared to still work on streaming platforms and some channels showing the game in Spanish.
WCBS-TV, the New York CBS affiliate that is owned by the network itself, acknowledged the problems in a statement.
“There are technical difficulties at WCBS affecting some parts of the NY area,” the station said. “We are aware and working on a solution.”
The N.F.L. declined additional comment and referred questions to CBS.
Kevin Draper contributed reporting.
The Browns’ postseason history is so sordid that its most soul-crushing moments are known by shorthand. Go ahead and mention Red Right 88 to a Cleveland fan — we dare you. Or The Drive. Or The Fumble.
Before advancing to the playoffs this season for the first time in 17 years, the Browns were a regular participant, qualifying eight times in the 1980s, including consecutive seasons between 1985 and 1989. The losses, and how they transpired, linger longest.
In the A.F.C. divisional round following the 1980 season, the Browns trailed the Raiders by 14-12 with under a minute left and had the ball on Oakland’s 13-yard line. Instructed to throw the ball away if no one was open, quarterback Brian Sipe tried forcing the ball to Ozzie Newsome and his pass was intercepted.
In the A.F.C. championship game following the 1986 season, John Elway led Denver 98 yards in 15 plays to even the score at 20-20 with 37 seconds remaining. The Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl with a field goal in overtime.
In the A.F.C. championship game following the 1987 season, with the Browns trailing Denver by 38-31 late in the fourth quarter, Earnest Byner fumbled on the Broncos’ 1-yard line.
Even in their last appearance before these playoffs, in the 2002 wild-card round the Browns led Pittsburgh by 13 points early in the fourth quarter before collapsing. They couldn’t erase that defeat by beating the Steelers last week, but at least they avenged it.
Considering the plethora of offensive talent on both teams — and the mediocre showings by their defenses — Sunday’s game could very well be a high-scoring one. Even if it is, the totals almost certainly won’t match those from the last time Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield faced each other in college on Oct. 22, 2016.
Playing for Texas Tech, Mahomes attempted 88 passes, completed 52 passes and threw for 734 yards — and lost. Oklahoma won, 66-59, behind Mayfield’s 545 passing yards and seven touchdowns in his first game in Lubbock, Tex. since transferring after his freshman season.
The teams combined for a this-is-not-a-misprint 1,708 yards, most ever in a Football Bowl Subdivision game, and scored touchdowns on 10 consecutive second-half drives.
Already dealing a separated right shoulder, Mahomes fractured his left wrist early in the game, and he still accounted for a record 819 yards. Recalling Mahomes’s performance, Mayfield last week said that he had never seen anything like it before, or since.
“Just the efficiency and spectacular plays,” Mayfield said. “It was fun to watch. It has always been fun to keep up with Pat.”
In their lone N.F.L. meeting, in Week 9 in 2018, Mayfield sure tried keeping up but couldn’t. Mahomes threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns — to Mayfield’s 297 and two — in a 37-21 victory in Cleveland.