KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars’ 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in a 2022 AFC Divisional Playoff game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday
1. Quick strike. The Jaguars wanted a fast start Saturday. The Chiefs got it instead, moving quickly for a touchdown after forcing a three-and-out Jaguars series on the game's first possession. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 NFL Most Valuable Player and the favorite for the honor this season, was mobile and accurate on the drive – completing seven of nine passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. His six-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce on third-and-six after avoiding pressure gave the Chiefs a first down at the Chiefs 8. His eight-yard pass to Kelce on the next play gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter. "He's a great player," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said of Kelce, who had 14 receptions for 98 yards Saturday. "He's a big target for Patrick and you obviously have to know where he is. We have to do a better job moving forward. Those are all things we can learn from."
2. Agnew again – and a touchdown to Kirk. Jaguars returner Jamal Agnew gave the Jaguars a huge lift at times late in the season – and he did so again early Saturday. After the Chiefs methodically took a 7-0 lead, Agnew took the ensuing kickoff two yards deep in the end zone. He returned the kick through a gaping hole in the Chiefs' coverage 63 yards to the Chiefs 39, minimizing momentarily the Chiefs' momentum. A 19-yard run by Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. on third-and-one from the Chiefs 30 provided a key first down, with Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence finding wide receiver Christian Kirk in the right side of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown on a wheel route on the ensuing play. That tied it 7-7 with 5:04 remaining in the first quarter.
3. So close – and then a drive. The Jaguars missed a chance to take momentum – and the lead – midway through the second quarter. With Mahomes out with an ankle injury, reserve quarterback Chad Henne – who played for the Jaguars from 2012-2017 – entered the game with the Chiefs at their two after a punt by Jaguars punter Logan Cooke. Henne threw short on second-and-three from the Chiefs 23, with Jaguars nose tackle DaVon Hamilton tipping the pass and inside linebacker Foye Oluokun not able to hold a diving interception – the closest the Jaguars came to a takeaway Saturday. The Chiefs then completed the 98-yard drive, with running back Isiah Pacheco turning in a 39-yard gain to the Chiefs 4. Henne capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Kelce for a 17-7 lead with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter. "That was obviously a turning point or momentum switch," Pederson said, adding of the Oluokun near-interception: "You try the best you can to try to create some turnovers or some takeaways. There were a couple of chances in this game, some hands on these footballs. It would've been nice to have gotten one."
4. Quiet. Too quiet. The Jaguars' offense stagnated in the third quarter, and it wasn't so much a key play anywhere but an overall inability to move at a critical point in the game. The Jaguars' defense was impressive to start the second half, forcing punts on the first two Chiefs possessions. But with two chances to tie, the Jaguars' offense managed just three first downs and punted twice. The Chiefs took advantage by moving into field-goal range late in the third quarter, extending the lead to 20-10 with a 50-yard field goal by Harrison Butker with :08 remaining in the period. The Jaguars managed 28 yards in the quarter. "Some of them, we shot ourselves in the foot," Jaguars tight end Chris Manhertz said. "I think most of the time, it's on us more than them. For sure, there were a lot of missed opportunities that we didn't really capitalize on. We just have to live with that."
5. Back in it. The Jaguars made a habit of rallying all season. They stayed true to those habits early in the fourth quarter, opening the period with one of their most impressive drives of the season. Trailing by 10 points, the Jaguars moved 75 yards on seven plays and cut the Chiefs' lead to 20-17 with 11:49 remaining in the game. Etienne's four-yard run capped the drive, with an 18-yard reverse by Kirk on the previous play setting up the score. Also key on the drive: A 37-yard deep pass down the right sideline from Lawrence to wide receiver Zay Jones on the play before Kirk's reverse.
5a. Big-time drive. The Chiefs responded to Etienne's touchdown by doing what championship teams do – driving 75 yards on 10 plays for what essentially was a game-clinching touchdown. They did it methodically enough that there was no real key play. The Chiefs didn't face a third down on the drive, with Mahomes' second touchdown pass of the game – a six-yarder to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling – giving the Chiefs a 27-17 lead with 7:08 remaining.
5b. Turnover time. The Jaguars' two giveaways Saturday came on their two drives immediately after Valdes-Scantling's touchdown. Trailing by 10 points, they drove quickly to the Chiefs 9, but wide receiver Jamal Agnew fumbled after a short pass from Lawrence and Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton recovered at the Chiefs 3. Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson ended the Jaguars' next possession with a one-handed interception off Lawrence's deep pass to wide receiver Zay Jones at the Kansas City 30. "A great interception," Pederson called it."Jamal is a great player," wide receiver Zay Jones said ."He's an all-pro returner. One error doesn't define him. It doesn't say who he is as a player. Anyone that points the finger at Ag is wrong, because it's a team game, we win together, and we lose together. That's just how it is."