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Chiefs Defeat Steelers, 42-21, Behind Patrick Mahomes' Five Touchdown Passes

Kansas City tallied six-straight touchdown drives on Sunday night

The Kansas City Chiefs bounced back from a sluggish start to dominate the Pittsburgh Steelers, 42-21, behind yet another tremendous postseason performance from quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Sunday night.

Mahomes completed 30-of-39 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns in the contest, leading the Chiefs to touchdown drives on five consecutive possessions in less than 12 minutes of game time between the second and third quarters. At 11 minutes and 31 seconds, it was the fastest span with five touchdown passes for any quarterback in NFL postseason history.

It was a classic outing for Mahomes, who moved to 7-2 in his postseason career with 22 touchdown passes – the most for any player under the age of 27 in NFL history. Additionally, Mahomes tallied his fourth-career outing with 400+ passing yards and 5+ touchdowns, which are the most such games in NFL history.

Mahomes led the offense to 478 net yards and 26 first downs, but for as brilliant as the numbers ended up being, it certainly didn't start that way. In fact, Kansas City either punted or turned it over on each of its first five possessions, with its final series in that stretch ending in a fumble that Steelers' edge-rusher T.J. Watt recovered for a touchdown.

Watt's score marked the first points of the contest, and at that point in the game, Mahomes had only completed 6-of-12 passes for 45 yards. From then on, however, the 2018 NFL MVP completed 24-of-27 passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns while leading Kansas City to 35 unanswered points.

It marked just another example of Mahomes' resiliency, particularly in the biggest of moments, when things aren't going well at first. 

"The thing that is so great about him is that he doesn't let things get to him," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "He just keeps firing when needed and he keeps leading all the time – even when things aren't working well for him or for somebody else. He's got an innate ability to lead other guys and they're willing to listen to him, and then he ends up with these plays that we're lucky to have here and lucky to see."

That leadership was on full display during the Chiefs' ensuing possession following Watt's touchdown, as Mahomes completed all six of his pass attempts and broke free for a 23-yard run before finding tailback Jerick McKinnon for a 4-yard score that tied the game. It was just the beginning of what turned out to be a huge night for McKinnon, who racked up 142 yards from scrimmage.

Mahomes found wide receiver Byron Pringle for a 12-yard touchdown on the Chiefs' next series, and then with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Mahomes connected with tight end Travis Kelce for a 48-yard score that put Kansas City up by two possessions heading into halftime.

That onslaught then continued as the third quarter got underway, as Mahomes led three more scoring drives that effectively sealed the victory. That included a 1-yard toss to offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, who found the end zone for the first time in his career, and a 31-yard strike to wide receiver Tyreek Hill a bit later that extended Kansas City's advantage to 28 points in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Pittsburgh finally managed to get on the board with its next possession, but the Chiefs proceeded to answer by marching all the way to the Steelers' 2-yard line before Kelce – who lined up in the shotgun – took the snap and fired a dart to Pringle for a 2-yard score. The touchdown pass was an exclamation point on a big night for Kelce, as he became the first player in postseason history to catch a touchdown, throw a touchdown and record 100+ receiving yards in a single game.

"Like I used to tell my mom when I was five years old, I was eventually going to throw a touchdown in the National Football League," said Kelce, who was a high school quarterback. "I finally got it done. It only took me nine years."

It was simply a huge night for Mahomes and company in terms of moving the football, but while the offense struggled early on, it was the Chiefs' defense that kept Kansas City in it.

Pittsburgh had less than 50 yards of offense at halftime after punting on seven consecutive possessions to begin the game, including five drives that failed to pick up a first down. Then, on the first play of Pittsburgh's opening series of the second half, Chiefs' linebacker Willie Gay punched the ball free from tailback Najee Harris and defensive end Frank Clark was there to scoop it up. Kansas City held Harris, who ranked fourth in the NFL this season in rushing, to just 29 yards on the ground.

It all helped the Chiefs put together a dominant performance on both sides of the ball as Kansas City advanced to the Divisional Round of the postseason for a fourth straight year. It sets the stage for a re-match of last year's AFC Championship Game between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills this Sunday with a trip to this year's title game on the line.