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.

Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

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Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes have gone head-to-head six times and each matchup has been both high-stakes and high-scoring affairs between the two legendary quarterbacks who have an even 3-3 overall record against each other. See below for a breakdown of the Brady vs. Mahomes rivalry.

Mahomes is currently in his fifth season as the Chiefs starting quarterback. The 2019 Super Bowl MVP signed a 10-year, $450 million extension in July 2020, which was the richest contract in American sports history by total value. Over the last four seasons (2018-2021), Mahomes has led the league in both passing yards (18,707) and touchdown passes (151). The 27-year-old looks to lead the Chiefs to their seventh straight AFC West Title. Kansas City is the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

At 45 years old Tom Brady, who already holds 7 Super Bowl titles–the most in NFL history, is currently playing in his 23rd NFL season–one that many thought he wouldn’t see after an unpredictable offseason filled with rumorsretirement, and unretirement. But the greatest of all time is back–this time without the comfort of his longtime trusted TE Rob Gronkowski–and is not only facing the challenge of playing with a banged-up offensive line but is also adjusting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

Every past matchup between Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes (3-3 overall record):

  1. Oct. 14, 2018 (Week 6) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 43-40. Brady threw for 340 yards and 1 TD. Mahomes threw for 352 yards, 4 TD, and 2 INT.
  2. Jan. 20, 2019 (AFC Championship Game) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31, in overtime. Brady threw 348 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT. Mahomes finished with 295 YDS, and 3 TD
  3. Dec. 8, 2019 (Week 14) – Chiefs defeated the Patriots 23-16. Mahomes totaled 283 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Brady had 169 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
  4. Nov. 29, 2020 (Week 12) – Chiefs beat the Buccaneers 27-24. Mahomes threw for 462 yards with 3 TD. Brady finished with 345 yards, 3 TD, and 2 INT.
  5. Feb. 7, 2021 (Super Bowl 55) – Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9 playing on their home field at Raymond James Stadium. Brady threw for 201 yards and 3 TD and was named Super Bowl MVP for a record 5th time.
  6. Oct. 2, 2022 (Week 4) – Chiefs defeated the Buccaneers 41-31 at Raymond James Stadium. Mahomes went 23-of-37 for 249 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

In an interview with NBC’s Maria Taylor for Football Night in America, Mahomes discusses the trademarks of a Brady-led team.

“First off, they take advantage of mistakes,” Mahomes said. “If you make a mistake on the field, if I throw an interception or if you fumble, or if something like that happens, he’s going to make you pay and get points on the board and then he’s going to manage the game.”

Mahomes also knows that while Brady has a knack for capitalizing on mistakes, he does not often make many of his own.

“He’s going to make some plays when he needs to make plays, but at the same time he’s not going to make that big mistake. So you have to go out there and play a near perfect football game to win. Another thing, he’s never out of it and I think that’s something I try to pride myself on as well is never being out of the game. So whenever you play against a Tom Brady-led team, you make sure you keep that foot down on the pedal and try to do whatever you can to finish the game off.”

Patrick Mahomes absorbs Tom Brady’s lessons

Despite the difference in age and experience, Brady and Mahomes are alike in their impact on the game.

“You want to not like Tom but he’s just like the best guy,” Mahomes said. “So it’s hard to not like him, but to be able to play in golf tournaments, and him give me kind of advice and stuff like that. I mean, he’s the GOAT. You want to learn from the best and it’s really cool to have that relationship with him.”

Even when Brady and Mahomes have faced off in high-stakes postseason games, the advice continues. The two met in the 2019 AFC Championship game, when Brady was still playing for the New England Patriots. Both quarterbacks delivered stellar performances, but Brady managed to lead the Patriots to an overtime victory.

Following this loss, Mahomes tells Taylor that he is upset and spends a lot of time after the game sitting in the locker room. But when Mahomes finally walks out, Brady is waiting for him.

“He could be celebrating” Mahomes said. “He’s going to the Super Bowl and everything like that, and all he said to me, ‘Hey, just keep doing it how you’re doing it. You’re doing it the right way.’ And as a young quarterback, you just go out there and play and try to have fun and do whatever you can to put your team in the best position to win.

But when the GOAT’s saying that, he’s saying you’re doing it the right way, it shows you that you are doing it the right way. And so that was big for me”

While Brady has not revealed all his football wisdom to Mahomes, the Chiefs’ signal-caller looks forward to learning more.

“He won’t give me all the secrets yet,” Mahomes said. “But hopefully one day I’ll get the secrets and can put those into my game.”

Patrick Mahomes embraces the Tom Brady mindset

While Brady and Mahomes are competitors, their respect from one another extends beyond the football field into their personal lives. Mahomes and his wife Brittany, have a young girl, Sterling, and are expecting a baby boy.

“You want to be able to be a family man and be with your family and you want to be able to do these different things, where you’re going into businesses and then helping out and shooting commercials and, at the same time, keeping football first.”

One of the biggest lessons Mahomes has taken from Brady is the importance of prioritizing football in addition to consistently improving at the game.

“That’s the greatness in Tom Brady is no matter how much off the field stuff he does, football is always the main priority and he makes sure to keep it that way,” Mahomes said. “And so you watch that and then at the same time you go back to him on the field and he’s always getting better. I feel like every single year he finds something he can get better at. And that’s what I want to do, is I want to keep getting better as my career goes on so that I can play hopefully, maybe not as long as him, but pretty long as well.”

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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How to watch 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.

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. 

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RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


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What are the longest field goals in NFL history and when were they kicked?

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The 2022 NFL season is upon us, and at a time when every point matters, field goals take on an added significance. Last season, Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker converted the longest field goal in NFL history at 66 yards. Trailing 17-16 to the Detroit Lions in Week 3, Tucker successfully kicked a field goal that bounced off the cross bar and through the uprights to give the Ravens the victory as time expired.

Tucker’s kick broke the previous record that was set back in 2013. Cardinals kicker Matt Prater was the previous record holder with a kick of 64 yards against the Tennessee Titans. Prater, who played for the Denver Broncos at the time, converted the kick at the end of the first half to pull the Broncos within one point heading into the locker room.

RELATED: How to watch Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

The next field goal record is 63 yards and it has been achieved six different times in NFL history, most recently by Brett Maher in 2019 when the Cowboys were hosting the Philadelphia Eagles. In his three NFL seasons, Maher has kicked one 63-yard field goal and two 62-yarders. The first kick in NFL history of 63 yards happened in 1970 when Tom Dempsey of New Orleans sent a 63-yard kick through the uprights.

There are another five kickers throughout NFL history who have converted a kick of 62 yards. Earlier this season, Prater kicked a 62-yard kick against the Minnesota Vikings that had room to spare. The field goal was kicked from the center of the Cardinals’ mid-field logo and put Arizona up, 24-23, at halftime. With two of the kicking records in NFL history, Prater has established himself as a kicking legend in the NFL.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

What are the longest field goals in regular season history?

66 yards – Justin Tucker, Detroit vs. Baltimore, Sept. 26, 2021

64 yards – Matt Prater, Denver vs. Tennessee, Dec. 8, 2013

63 yards – Tom Dempsey, New Orleans vs. Detroit, Nov. 8, 1970

Jason Elam, Denver vs. Jacksonville, Oct. 25, 1998
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland vs. Denver, Sept. 12, 2011
David Akers, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, Sept. 9, 2012
Graham Gano, Carolina vs. N.Y. Giants, Oct. 7, 2018
Brett Maher, Dallas vs. Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 2019

62 yards – Matt Prater, Arizona vs. Minnesota, Sept. 19, 2021

Matt Bryant, Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia, Oct. 22, 2006
Stephen Gostkowski, New England vs. Oakland, Nov. 19, 2017
Brett Maher, Dallas vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 9, 2018 (OT)
Brett Maher, Dallas vs. N.Y. Jets, Oct. 13, 2019

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

The longest field goals in playoff history do not quite match those of the regular season, but they are not far off. The longest kick in the postseason is 58 yards and two kickers have achieved the feat: Pete Stoyanovich of the Chiefs in the team’s 1990 Wild Card game against the Dolphins and Graham Gano of the Panthers before halftime of the team’s Wild Card game vs. the Saints.

What are the longest field goals in playoff history?

58 yardsPete Stoyanovich, AFC-FR: Miami vs. Kansas City, 1990
Graham Gano, NFC-FR: Carolina vs. New Orleans, 2017

57 yards –  Mike Nugent, AFC-FR: Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis, 2014
Wil Lutz, NFC-FR: New Orleans vs. Carolina, 2017
Greg Zuerlein, NFC: L.A. Rams vs. New Orleans, 2018

56 yards – Mason Crosby, NFC-D: Green Bay vs. Dallas, 2016


How to watch 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.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 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