The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Miami Dolphins, 26-7, on Saturday night to advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs for the sixth-straight season.
Kansas City found the end zone on its opening possession and never looked back, holding Miami – the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL – scoreless on 10 of its 11 drives.
"I really would not want to play our defense," said quarterback Patrick Mahomes. "It's hard to make a beat on what they're doing, and that's why I knew during training camp [that they were special]. I was like, 'Man I'm glad I don't have to play those guys because that would be tough.'"
Indeed, the Chiefs' defense delivered one of its most impressive outings of the season despite frigid temperatures throughout the game. In fact, at -4 degrees, Saturday's contest marked the fourth-coldest kickoff in NFL history. Despite those conditions, however, the Chiefs' defense held Miami's high-powered running game – which averaged 135.8 yards-per-game during the regular season – to just 76 yards on the ground.
"I think it's [about] being locking in [with] your eyes, keys, alignments and assignments," said linebacker Nick Bolton. "We had faith and trust in our teammates to do their job [on the backend] so that we could lock in and do ours."
That cohesion helped the Chiefs hold Miami to a 1-for-12 mark on third down and a season-low of only seven points, preserving a lead that Kansas City's offense methodically extended as the game continued behind four field goals from kicker Harrison Butker.
Mahomes completed 23-of-41 passing attempts for 262 yards and a touchdown the game, finding rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice for an 11-yard score on the Chiefs' opening drive. It was the sign of things to come for Rice, who caught eight passes for 130 yards while making numerous big plays in critical moments, including a 39-yard catch-and-run that moved the chains on third down and eventually led to a field goal.
"I don't think they were anticipating us throwing the ball quite as much as we did, but we were able to come out and sling it," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "A lot of quarterbacks can't do what [Mahomes] did in that kind of weather."
Rice's efforts also made some history, marking the most productive outing in terms of both receiving yards and receptions for a rookie in franchise history.
"It feels great. I'm going out there just to get a win, first of all, and everything else just comes with it," Rice said. "I look forward to putting my name down as much as I can in this program and to stay here."
Rice was one of several members of the Chiefs who seemed to play with a noticeable energy and edge throughout the game despite the cold weather. Another player who did so was undoubtedly tailback Isiah Pacheco, who rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
Pacheco's score – which completed a 14-play, 72-yard drive early in the fourth quarter – extended the Chiefs' lead to 19 points and effectively put the game away.
It all helped the Chiefs win their 12th playoff game since 2018, continuing a stretch in which they have advanced to the Divisional Round in every season during that span. Kansas City will now await the results of the Buffalo Bills' game on Monday afternoon to determine who the Chiefs will play next weekend.