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One and Done - FFL: Week 1 | NFL: Wildcard

Mahomes leads Chiefs to 42-21 wild-card romp over Steelers

Mon Jan 17 12:47am ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates with teammate Tyreek Hill (10) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Travis Heying)


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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a 4-yard touchdown pass to running back Jerick McKinnon, right, during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Travis Heying)


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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) tries to break a tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


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Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) celebrates after scoring on 4-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) tries to break a tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Travis Heying)


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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


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Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrates after returning a fumble for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tershawn Wharton celebrates after sacking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) returns a punt during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tershawn Wharton (98) celebrates after sacking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, talks with referee Shawn Smith, left, during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Travis Heying)


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Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (88) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs middle linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (50) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs were going nowhere on offense against Pittsburgh early Sunday night, so coach Andy Reid had wide receiver Mecole Hardman take a shotgun snap and hand off to running back Darrel Williams on a trick play.

Their exchange hit the ground, T.J. Watt picked it up and returned the fumble for a touchdown.

It was precisely the kind of play that should have energized the heavy underdogs, playing in a tough environment on the road, but it wound up doing something else entirely: It ticked off Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

He proceeded to throw for 404 yards and five scores, leading Kansas City to the end zone on six straight possessions after the turnover, and the Chiefs cruised through the second half for a 42-21 wild-card victory.

''We were all pissed at ourselves,'' Mahomes said. ''We weren't playing with enough energy. We weren't playing at a high enough level. We all motivated ourselves. Everyone was talking to each other, and we came out with a different urgency.''

Byron Pringle caught touchdown passes from both Mahomes and Kelce, and Jerick McKinnon and Tyreek Hill also had scoring catches, while the Chiefs (13-5) shut down the retiring Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.

The performance not only sent Kansas City into the divisional round of the playoffs, it also turned next Sunday night's game against Buffalo - a rematch of last year's AFC title game - into appointment viewing. The Bills had a similarly easy time with their 47-17 victory over New England on Saturday.

''When you've been to the Super Bowl the last two years and you walk off that field with a loss last year, you want to go back and get that revenge, get that win,'' Mahomes said. ''We have the Bills coming here this next week and we're going to have to play our best football.''

Roethlisberger, who acknowledged the Steelers (9-8-1) were ''not a very good football team'' this week, wasn't very good in his own right. The 39-year-old quarterback was 29 of 44 for 215 yards with two meaningless TD passes late in the game, providing the coda to a career that includes six Pro Bowl trips and two Super Bowl wins.

''I mean, we lost. It stinks. But when you get to the tournament, only one team is going to end the season the way you want,'' Roethlisberger said. ''I will say, I'm proud of the way our guys fought tonight.''

Judging by the final score, you'd never guess the first quarter was all about defense: The Steelers ran 14 plays and went 12 yards, while the Chiefs had more punt return yards (70) than they had from scrimmage (62).

Made sense that the first points would be scored on defense, too.

After the Steelers punted for a fifth straight time, the Chiefs inexplicably had Hardman take a snap rather than their four-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Williams bobbled the exchange, Watt grabbed the fumble and Pittsburgh had a 7-0 lead.

It didn't last long.

Mahomes responded by completing his next six passes, capping a 76-yard drive with a nifty underhand flick to McKinnon that tied it. Then the brilliant young quarterback found Pringle in the corner of the end zone for a score, and he put an exclamation mark on the half by hitting Kelce with a 48-yard touchdown strike.

In the span of less than six minutes, Mahomes and the Chiefs had turned a seven-point deficit into a 21-7 lead.

''You know what? I didn't have to say much,'' Reid said. ''The players know better than anybody when there's a screwup. They beared down. Nobody was hanging their head. They said, `Let's go. We need to amp it up here a little bit.'''

It wasn't quite the 23-0 halftime advantage the Chiefs had in their December blowout of the Steelers, but it sure felt that way. Roethlisberger was 5 of 14 for 24 yards in the first half and Pittsburgh had 55 yards total offense.

Not much of a retirement party if Roethlisberger indeed calls it quits.

''I don't think any of us played well,'' he said. ''We didn't make the plays we had to early to give ourselves a chance, and doing that, we didn't keep our defense off the field. Those are tough situations to go against such a high-powered offense.''

As for the Chiefs, their celebration started in earnest after Mahomes led them on another TD drive to start the second half. The game was such a laugher by that point that when Hill was ruled down just shy of the goal line, Mahomes simply threw his next pass on third-and-goal to offensive tackle Nick Allegretti for the score.

Hill got his TD catch eventually; it came after Steelers rookie Najee Harris lost a fumble for the first time all season.

The Chiefs kept scoring, too - Kelce's mom, who began the day watching her other son, Jason, and his Eagles lose in Tampa Bay, got to see her younger son throw a TD pass in the fourth quarter. By that point, the Chiefs had scored so often, they had to post a message on the Arrowhead Stadium video boards that they had run out of fireworks.

Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs had provided enough of their own.

''As opposed to coming in here and talking about the things we didn't do - I just expressed it to the football team - the classy thing to do is compliment the Kansas City Chiefs,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. ''They have a really good football team, they have an explosive team, and they did a really good job tonight.''

INJURIES

Steelers: Their ego was severely bruised.

Chiefs: CB Rashad Fenton hurt his shoulder before the game.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh heads to the offseason contemplating how they might replace their long-time starting quarterback.

The Chiefs welcome Buffalo next Sunday night for a rematch of a game the Bills won 38-20 in October. Mahomes threw three TD passes in a 38-24 victory for the AFC crown last January.

Player Notes
CeeDee Lamb Jan 16 9:10pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was held to one catch for 21 yards during the Wild Card loss to the 49ers. The sophomore was targeted five times on Sunday. However, he couldn't do much with the opportunities afforded to him from Dak Prescott. Nonetheless, while this was arguably one of the worst performances of Lamb's career, he still had a fantastic season and finished as the Cowboys' top receiving option. He has a good chance to retain that crown next year, even though he will continue to battle for targets with Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and others.

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Ezekiel Elliott Jan 16 8:50pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott finished with only 12 carries for 31 yards during the Wild Card loss to San Francisco. The veteran couldn't get anything going, as evident by his atrocious 2.6 YPC. With the year behind him, he will look to get back on track next season. While he narrowly rushed for over 1,000 yards during the 2021-22 campaign, his days as a first-round fantasy option moving forward may be over, mainly based on some of his uneventful performances throughout his 17 appearances during the season. Elliott's health has also been an issue, and while it didn't cost him any time this season, it still severely negatively impacted his productivity.

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Amari Cooper Jan 16 8:50pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper finished with six grabs for 64 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's loss to the 49ers. Cooper was the most productive Dallas wideout, although he wasn't as potent as tight end Dalton Schultz, who led the team with seven catches for 89 yards. Nonetheless, the 27-year-old capped off another solid year, although he wasn't as effective as he was over his previous two seasons. However, if Cooper can remain healthy, he has plenty of fantasy potential, although the emergence of CeeDee Lamb as the No. 1 receiving option may certainly lower his ceiling for the 2022-23 campaign.

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Dak Prescott Jan 16 8:43pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott completed 23 of 43 attempts for 254 yards, one touchdown and an interception vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Wild Card Weekend on Sunday, Jan. 16. He ran four times for 27 yards and a score and was sacked five times. RB Ezekiel Elliott rushed 12 times for 31 yards and caught one of four targets of no gain. RB Tony Pollard ran four 14 yards on four carries and chipped in 12 yards, catching his only two targets. WR Amari Cooper hauled in six of 10 looks for 64 yards and a touchdown, while WR CeeDee Lamb's five targets resulted in a 21-yard reception. He rushed once for five yards. TE Dalton Schultz paced the offense with seven catches for 89 yards on eight targets. WR Cedrick Wilson contributed five grabs for 62 yards and was thrown to 10 times. LB Leighton Vander Esch led all players with 13 total tackles, including five solos. LB Micah Parsons finished with three solo stops, seven assists, and a tackle for loss.

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San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 172 yards with no touchdowns and an interception on 16-for-25 passing at the Dallas Cowboys in Wild Card Weekend on Sunday, Jan. 16. He ran once for a yard. RB Elijah Mitchell rushed 27 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. He caught one of two targets for -11 yards. WR Deebo Samuel caught three passes for 38 yards on a trio of looks and added 10 carries for 72 yards and a score on the ground. WR Brandon Aiyuk landed five of six targets for 66 yards, while TE George Kittle was held to an 18-yard catch on three targets. CB Emmanuel Moseley led the team with 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops. DE Nick Bosa (head) tallied two solo tackles, an assist, a half-sack, and a quarterback hit.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jan 16 8:30pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 254 yards and a touchdown off 23-for-43 passing during the loss to the 49ers on Sunday. He also had an interception while adding 27 yards off four carries, with one of them resulting in a trip to the end zone. The signal-caller had a decent outing, but it would be safe to assume that DFS managers were hoping for a little more. Nonetheless, with another season in the books, Prescott will have some time to recover from any residual injuries sustained during the year. Overall, he was a reliable option for fantasy managers, and if he can stay healthy, he should at least be a top-10 quarterback during the 2022-23 campaign, with the potential for higher.

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Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert finished with a team-high six catches for 92 yards during the Wild Card loss to Tampa Bay. Overall, Goedert had a solid outing on Sunday, and it capped off what was an efficient year for the 27-year-old, who ended the regular season by totaling 830 yards and four touchdowns off 56 catches. While he began the season battling Zach Ertz for looks, he should have a much clearer path for production in September now that Ertz is in Arizona.

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) is active at the Kansas City Chiefs in Wild Card Weekend on Sunday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: He's a fringe flier for a cheap TD vs. a defense that has been overall strong but also has shown some weakness of late.

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders finished with only seven carries for 16 yards during the loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. Sanders made his return during the Wild Card round after missing time because of a hand injury. However, the 24-year-old didn't do much and even ceded an end zone opportunity to Boston Scott. Overall, the former Penn State Nittany Lion had another underwhelming year, and he ended the regular season by rushing for a career-low 754 yards and no touchdowns. Health has also been an issue over the years, and unless Sanders proves he can turn things around, he shouldn't warrant much consideration for fantasy drafts heading into the 2022-23 campaign.

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Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) is officially active for Sunday Night Football versus Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old was limited during practice throughout the week, although he appeared to be in line to play all along. Nonetheless, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) absent, Williams may benefit. He could have a productive outing, primarily since the Chiefs are projected to score a lot of points against an unreliable Steelers defense.

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Fantasy Spin: Ryan saw his streak of at least 4,000 yards in a season end in 2021 but he missed the milestone by only 32 yards. He has thrown at least 20 touchdowns in all but one season in his career, but he is probably a No. 2 quarterback in most fantasy leagues.

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Jordan Willis Jan 16 6:03pm ET
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle) was ruled out of Sunday's postseason win over the Eagles. He sustained an injury in the first half that didn't look too good and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Fortunately, he's been diagnosed with a sprained ankle, which is good news considering he's widely considered one of the best linemen in the league. Nonetheless, an absence during the Divisional round could impact the play of Tom Brady and others, so hopefully, the Bucs will have the All-Pro back, even if he isn't 100 percent.

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (foot) had 258 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-43 passing while adding eight carries for 39 yards during the Wild Card round loss to the Buccaneers. He also threw two interceptions, and even worse, he was observed wearing a walking boot during a post-game interview. The 23-year-old stated he's been dealing with the undisclosed ailment for quite some time, and he isn't sure if he will have to undergo surgery during the offseason. Nonetheless, despite his efficient play this year, Hurts doesn't have a firm grasp on the team's starting job for the 2021-22 campaign, so this is undoubtedly a situation to monitor moving ahead as if it could impact his draft stock.

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