Henne the Hero: Why the Chiefs trusted their backup QB with the season on the line

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Everything about the end of this game was a novella, including Cleveland getting off the mat and nearly coming all the way back from a 19-3 deficit. But let’s not bury the lede: With 7:11 left in the third quarter and Mahomes fighting to convert on a third-and-one run, he was tackled—clean but hard—by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson. Immediately woozy, Mahomes struggled to get up and was helped to the sideline. He ran into the locker room a few minutes later but was ruled out for the game and put into the league’s concussion protocol. After the game, coach Andy Reid said Mahomes passed the neurologist-administered tests to discern the impact on his cognitive functions, and said Mahomes “is doing great right now.” Too early to tell his status for his third straight AFC Championship Game Sunday against Buffalo at Arrowhead Stadium, but there seemed to be some cautious optimism around Mahomes after the game.

Henne’s played in some big games, mostly in college at Michigan as a four-year starter. But not many lately. He hadn’t been an NFL starter since 2013, in Jacksonville, and at this stage, the 35-year-old Henne is an insurance policy, strictly. But he was needed when Mahomes went down with 22 minutes left and the team’s Super Bowl defense season beginning to teeter on the end of a Missouri cliff. After the Browns cut the lead to 22-17 with 11 minutes to go, Henne threw a misguided bomb to no one in the Cleveland zone—no one but Browns safety Karl Joseph. “Miscue on my part,” said Henne. “Should have checked it down.” Luckily the KC D held, and Henne got the ball back with four minutes to kill, and Cleveland with only one timeout left.

Bleed the clock, bleed the clock. But Henne unwisely took a sack as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning, and coming out of that timeout, KC had third-and-14 at its 35. Even with a run here, then a punt, Kansas City would be giving the Browns the ball 75 or 80 yards from the goal line with maybe 40 seconds left. But Henne sounded confident about converting and never giving Cleveland the ball back. “Coming out of the two-minute warning, there were two plays we all liked,’’ Henne said. “The one we chose, I went back to throw, and they did a great job doubling Travis Kelce, and then I looked for Tyreek [Hill] and he was covered. I felt the pocket collapse and just took off.”

Henne said he saw the sticks and knew where he had to get to, and when he was close, he dove like he was a swimmer in the starting blocks for a 50-yard freestyle. “I was sure I made it,” Henne told me. “I felt like I was clearly over.”

But…

“When I came into the locker room later,” Henne said, “Patrick told me, no, my elbow was down. So I guess I was short.”

Fourth and a foot now, at the KC 48. Surely with 75 seconds left, Reid would call for a punt. A turnover on downs here would give the Browns maybe 65 seconds left and 48 yard to go for the winning touchdown. But Henne told me in the Saturday night meeting, part of the time was spent on fourth-and-one, fourth-and-five and fourth-and-10 or more plays they liked. Reid, Mahomes, Henne, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, all decided what they liked. In particular, there was one play all liked on fourth-and-short: Tyreek Hill lining up as the first of three receivers split right, closest to the right tackle, taking one jab step upfield, and then a cat-quick veer right. Hill’s one of the quickest players in football. “I just loved the play,” Henne said. “Very confident it’d work.”

Before the play was called, Reid asked Bieniemy, “You ready to roll?” What Reid meant: This is Henne, not Patrick. We sure we want to call a pass? If it’s incomplete, our season’s 48 yards from being over.

Bieniemy understood the ramifications.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Reid: “There was no flinch on the play. It was, ‘Here we go, Chad.’ “

I told Henne what great TV the play had made, with Tony Romo of CBS absolutely convinced that Henne, lined up with maybe 32 second left on the play clock, would not run a play. Listen to Romo’s words, as the play clock winds down and Henne and the offense are set, stock still:

:30 “Right here, really smart. Send everybody out here.”
:27 “You’re trying to draw ‘em offside. Take a timeout. Take it down. Try to draw ‘em offsides.”
:19 “Walk up, pretend like you’re gonna go up and quarterback-sneak it. Try to draw ‘em offsides …”
:15 “ … then take a timeout. Walk up there and say, ‘No play everybody. DON’T JUMP.”.
:09 “There’s no play. Just look at the body language.”
:06 In shotgun, Henne calls out: “Blue 80SET!”
:05 Shotgun snap to Henne.

“There is a play!” Jim Nantz said.

Hill, split narrowly on the line, right, one step forward, spring right. Henne faded right five steps, and threw to an open Hill right at the line-to-gain. Hill ran upfield five yards and sat down. Game over.

Romo: “ONLY ANDY REID GETS IN SHOTGUN ON FOURTH AND AN INCH!!! AND THROWS THE BALL WITH THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK!!! THERE’S NO WAY!!! HE SHOCKED EVERYBODY!!! I MEAN, THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!! I’VE NEVER SEEN IT!!!

“We just thought it was the smart play, the best play,” Henne said.

Imagine the implications of Henne throwing a ground ball there, or air-mailing the ball over Hill. Would Cleveland have another miracle victory this morning? Nope. Reid trusted Henne to do what Mahomes would do right there, and he did. Now, if Henne has to play Sunday against Buffalo, that 13-yard scramble and the fourth-down conversion pass tell Henne and his mates, Hey, we can win with this guy.

“When I saw Patrick,” Henne said, “he seemed fine. Great spirits. We’ll see tomorrow, I guess.”

In the meantime, Kansas City can breathe this morning—both about being in the final four and about the city’s favorite son.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

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The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2023 NFL Playoffs, Conference Championship scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

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The 2023 NFL Playoffs are finally here as the battle for the Lombardi Trophy continues. After six action-packed games on Wild Card Weekend and all the excitement of the Divisional Round and Conference Championships, the time has almost come for Super Bowl LVII, and the stage is now set. The Philadelphia Eagles routed the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and the Kansas City Chiefs bested the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC to make it back to the Super Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons. Andy Reid will face his former team and Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will meet in a battle of young superstar quarterbacks.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule

See below for the final scores, results, schedule and bracket for every game through Super Bowl LVII. Check out the full 2023 NFL playoff and Super Bowl schedule here.

2023 NFL Playoff Scores – Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 14

Seahawks (7) vs 49ers (2)

Chargers (5) vs Jaguars (4)

Sunday, January 15

Dolphins (7) vs Bills (2) 

Giants (6) vs Vikings (3) 

Ravens (6) vs Bengals (3) 

Monday, January 16

Cowboys (5) vs Buccaneers (4) 

Divisional Round Scores

Saturday, January 21

Jaguars (4) vs Chiefs (1)

Giants (6) vs Eagles (1)

Sunday, January 22nd

Bengals (3) vs Bills (2

Cowboys (5) vs 49ers (2)

Conference Championships Scores

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game: 49ers (2) vs Eagles (1)

AFC Championship: Bengals (3) vs Chiefs (1)

Super Bowl LVII – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs

  • Date: Sunday, February 12
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Network: Fox

Which teams are still in the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Eagles (NFC Champions) will play the Chiefs (AFC Champions) in Super Bowl LVII.

Which teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals have all been eliminated from the 2023 NFL playoffs.

RELATED: Giants hold off Vikings 31-24 to advance to Philadelphia next weekend

2023 NFL Playoff Bracket:

RELATED: NFL overtime rules and procedures


2023 NFL Playoff Picture:

AFC:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)
  2. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
  5. LA Chargers (10-7)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
  7. Miami Dolphins (9-8)

NFC:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
  2. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
  3. Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
  6. New York Giants (9-7-1)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

How to watch 2023 NFL Playoffs and Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!