Millions of football fans saw it but couldn’t believe it.
Doug Williams believed it, even though he didn’t see it.
The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a comeback for the ages on a see-your-breath Sunday, toppling the Houston Texans 51-31 despite falling behind by 24 points in the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium.
Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Chiefs a lead they would never relinquish. It was the largest comeback in franchise history.
So where does Williams come in? He was Washington’s quarterback in early 1988 and threw four touchdown passes in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, leading the Redskins to a come-from-behind victory over the Denver Broncos.
Mahomes and Williams now share that NFL postseason record of four touchdown passes in a quarter.
More important than statistical feats is the Chiefs will host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in the AFC championship game. In Week 10, Kansas City lost at Tennessee 35-32.
“The biggest thing I was preaching was, ‘Let’s go do something special. Everybody is counting us out. Let’s go out there and play by play put it out there,’” Mahomes said. “And play by play, we did what we were supposed to do.”
Even though Williams was watching only highlights on his phone — he was at home in Ashburn, Va., cheering on his two young daughters in basketball games — he was in Arrowhead Stadium in spirit.
“There’s something about that second quarter, huh?” Williams said by phone. “It’s weird that it happened, and you know what makes it even more weird? You’ve got two African American quarterbacks who did it.
“How can you not have an appreciation when you watch the kid play? He has so much fun playing the game. This ain’t even business to him, it’s fun. That’s how he plays. I love watching him play. He can do so many things with the football, with his arm talent. It doesn’t matter how you need him to throw it, he can throw it any way it needs to be thrown.”
A wide array of Mahomes’ throws were on display in this one, from the feathered toss to Damien Williams for Kansas City’s first touchdown, to a leaping strike to a diving Travis Kelce for the second touchdown, to a crazy push pass to Kelce in the waning seconds of the first half to give the Chiefs a 28-24 lead.
“Being down 24-0 in the NFL, you don’t win a lot of those games,” Mahomes said. “We knew it was still early in the game, the first quarter pretty much, and there was a lot of game left. I thought the best thing was just seeing everybody’s attitude. Everybody obviously wasn’t happy, but they knew that we were going to find a way to way to fight.”
In falling behind 24-0, Kansas City wasn’t in as deep a hole to Houston as Buffalo was in the 1992 wild-card round, when the Bills came back from 32 points down to beat the Houston Oilers. But this was a historic comeback, nonetheless.
The Chiefs started the day 1-7 in their last eight playoff games at home, and early on, it looked like another loss was definitely on the way.
Then, a jaw-dropping first quarter for the Texans was followed by a head-spinning second quarter for the Chiefs.
Along the way, the Chiefs took a wrecking ball to the record books. They were the first team to score touchdowns on seven consecutive drives in the postseason. Kelce’s three touchdown catches in one quarter were a postseason record. The combined 52 points in the first half? Another postseason record. On and on.
Deshaun Watson didn’t have a bad game for Houston. He completed 31 of 52 passes for 388 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But it didn’t come close to keeping pace with Mahomes, whose raw passing numbers — 23 of 35 for 321 yards — didn’t tell the full story of his five-touchdown day.
“They kept making plays and the crowd got into it,” Watson said. “We couldn’t overturn the momentum. That’s pretty much it.”
There are 76,416 seats in Arrowhead Stadium. Precious few of them were put to use. From the moment the comeback started, virtually everyone was on their feet.
This much was undeniable:
In 1963, Kansas City took possession of the Dallas Texans.
Sunday, Kansas City took possession of the Houston Texans too.