Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38) celebrates after forcing a fumble against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.Photograph: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports
In this year’s divisional round, Patrick Mahomes was posed a question he had never fielded in the playoffs before: can you win on the road? A trip to upstate New York to face the surging Buffalo Bills was a huge test for the Kansas City machine. This was unknown territory against a supreme foe in Josh Allen, a quarterback desperate to turn the tables on his rival after two bitter postseason defeats from seasons past. This was Buffalo’s time, they had the superior offense flowing through Allen while Mahomes finally appeared fallible. Despite his struggles, KC’s superstar remained the franchise’s face but this season the keys had been loaned to a new trustee, a defender so reliable that a single glance from him in a receiver’s direction can make a quarterback think twice.
Under the spotlight, the script totally flipped as Mahomes matched Allen step for step in a thrilling offensive tug of war. After all their stratospheric production, Kansas City’s defense were failing to hold up their end of the bargain. The Bills had a 24-20 final quarter lead, a shot at redemption. But Mahomes knew his defenders could stifle the Bills as he issued a rallying cry: “Y’all shut it down and we’ll win this football game. We’ll go to the AFC Championship Game.”
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Shut it down and then some. After Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco laid the groundwork to victory with a go ahead score, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had the tools to finish the job: his linchpin, L’Jarius Sneed. The defensive back cut Stefon Diggs off from Allen as the QB failed on all four attempts to find his top target. A turnover on downs, a punt and a stop on KC’s 26-yard line set the scene for the coup de grâce of…
Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/l-jarius-sneed-not-mahomes-090011196.html
Author : The Guardian
Publish date : 2024-02-07 09:00:11
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