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Patrick Mahomes returns to lead Chiefs past Jags, into AFC championship

Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Jacksonville Jaguars with quarterback Chad Henne (4) during the first half in the AFC divisional round game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes returned from an ankle injury and Travis Kelce caught two touchdown passes as the Kansas City Chiefs recorded a 27-20 victory over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the fifth straight season.

Mahomes missed most of the second quarter due to the right ankle injury. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, and backup quarterback Chad Henne also threw a scoring pass.

Kelce’s 14 receptions (for 98 yards) tied for third most in NFL postseason history and Marquez Valdes-Scantling added a touchdown catch for Kansas City. Nick Bolton (fumble) and Jaylen Watson (interception) each had key takeaways in the fourth quarter.

The top-seeded Chiefs will face either the second-seeded Buffalo Bills or third-seeded Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC title game. The Bills and Bengals meet Sunday.

Trevor Lawrence was 24-of-39 passing for 217 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the fourth-seeded Jaguars. Travis Etienne rushed for a touchdown and Christian Kirk had a scoring reception.

Jacksonville trailed by 10 entering the final quarter but traveled 75 yards on seven plays to move within 20-17 on Etienne’s 4-yard run with 11:49 remaining.

Mahomes countered with his own 75-yard touchdown drive. On the 10th play, he tossed a 6-yard scoring pass to Valdes-Scantling to push the lead back to 10 with 7:08 left.

Lawrence guided the Jaguars on another drive but Jamal Agnew fumbled the ball at the Kansas City 4-yard line with Bolton recovering with 5:29 remaining.

On Jacksonville’s next drive, Lawrence was intercepted by Watson with 3:48 left. Riley Patterson later kicked a 48-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining but his ensuing onside kick was recovered by Kansas City’s Kadarius Toney with 25 seconds left.

Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter on a play in which he was tackled by Jacksonville’s Corey Peters and Arden Key. Mahomes fell awkwardly to the ground as Key fell on Mahomes’ right lower leg.

Henne replaced Mahomes with 9:59 left in the second quarter and drove the Chiefs 98 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown.

But Mahomes returned at the outset of the second half with the ankle heavily taped.

Mahomes tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to Kelce with 7:56 in the first quarter. Jacksonville knotted the score on its next possession when Lawrence threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kirk.

Kansas City moved ahead 10-7 on Harrison Butker’s 50-yard field goal, the possession in which Mahomes injured the ankle.

When Henne entered, the ball was on the Chiefs’ 2-yard line and he drove the club downfield in Mahomes-like manner. Henne’s 1-yard throw to Kelce made it 17-7 with 3:54 left in the half.

Patterson booted a 41-yard field goal for the Jaguars with 27 seconds remaining.

Butker booted another 50-yarder with eight seconds left in the third quarter to give Kansas City a 20-10 advantage.

–Field Level Media