Mahomes, Rice lead Kansas City to wild-card win over Miami in 4th-coldest game in NFL history

Patrick Mahomes threw for 262 yards and a touchdown, had his helmet shattered when he took a hit in the second half, and proceeded to lead Kansas City to a 26-7 rout of the visiting Miami Dolphins in the fourth-coldest game in NFL history Saturday night.

Stroud becomes youngest QB to win playoff game as Texans rout Browns

Two men's football players high-five one another while another player watches.
Rashee Rice (4) of Kansas City celebrates with Justin Watson (84) and Patrick Mahomes (15) after scoring a touchdown during a 26-7 win against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs in Kansas City on Saturday. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Patrick Mahomes threw for 262 yards and a touchdown, had his helmet shattered when he took a hit in the second half, and proceeded to lead Kansas City to a 26-7 rout of the visiting Miami Dolphins in the fourth-coldest game in NFL history Saturday night.

The reigning league MVP found Rashee Rice eight times for 130 yards and a touchdown in the wild-card playoff game, and Isiah Pacheco added 89 yards rushing and another score, sending Kansas City (12-6) past the Dolphins for the first time in four postseason meetings.

Harrison Butker added four field goals for the defending Super Bowl champs.

The injury-depleted Dolphins (11-7) looked nothing like the dynamic offence that led the league in yards during the regular season. Tua Tagovailoa was pressured relentlessly by the NFL's second-ranked defence, wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a 53-yard TD catch but was otherwise shut down in his return to Kansas City, and the Dolphins finished with just 264 yards in all.

They have not won in Kansas City since Nov. 6, 2011, nor won a playoff game since Dec. 30, 2000.

Meanwhile, Kansas City won its 15th consecutive home playoff game — not counting a trio of Super Bowls. But they could be headed to Buffalo next week if the Bills beat the Steelers on Monday in a game pushed back a day by a blizzard. Otherwise, Kansas City will host Houston, which beat the Browns earlier Saturday.

Texans rookie sensation Stroud picks apart Browns

Rookie C.J. Stroud became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game after throwing for 274 yards and three touchdowns, and the Houston Texans returned two interceptions by Joe Flacco for scores in a 45-14 rout of the visiting Cleveland Browns in a wild-card matchup Saturday.

Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft last April, is also the highest-drafted rookie QB to win in the post-season. He picked apart Cleveland's vaunted defence, throwing touchdown passes of 15, 76 and 37 yards.

A men's football quarterback looks to throw with his teammate blocking a defender in front of him.
C.J. Stroud (7) of the Texans looks to throw a pass during a 45-14 win over the Browns during the the AFC Wild Card Playoffs in Houston on Saturday. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

At 22 years and 102 days old, he passed Michael Vick, who was 22 years, 192 days old in 2002 when his Falcons beat the Packers.

Stroud threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns before halftime as the Texans built a 24-14 lead. The defence took over after that, with Steven Nelson and Christian Harris returning interceptions for touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter to extend the lead to 38-14.

With the Texans up 45-14 with nine minutes to go, Stroud's work was done, and he was replaced by Davis Mills.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019, Stroud's stellar play and the leadership of first-year coach DeMeco Ryans transformed the Texans (11-7) from NFL laughingstock to AFC South champions.

Flacco, who turns 39 in three days, came off the couch to go 4-1 as a starter to end the regular season and lead the Browns (11-7) to just their third playoff appearance since their 1999 expansion rebirth, but second in four seasons under coach Kevin Stefanski.

Playing in his 17th post-season game but first in nine years, Flacco couldn't continue his magical run under the bright lights of the playoffs.

Bills' wild-card game against Steelers moved to Monday

The Buffalo Bills' wild-card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for Sunday was moved to Monday amid a forecast for dangerous winter weather, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Saturday.

Hochul said she started talking with the NFL on Thursday about the possibility of having to reschedule the game. From her hometown of Buffalo, she closed her news conference by saying, "Go, Bills."

The NFL and Bills issued a statement citing "public safety concerns" as the reason to push back the game by a day.

Green tractor plows snow off football field at Highmark Stadium in preparation for Bills' playoff game.
Due to poor weather conditions in Buffalo, the Bills' wild-card game against the Steelers has been moved to Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET from Sunday at 1 p.m. (X/@news4buffalo/

The forecast for the Buffalo area called for heavy snow and winds gusting as high as 105 kilometres per hour Saturday, with 30 to 60 centimetres or more of snow eventually piling up. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning lasting through 7 a.m. Monday, saying "travel will be very difficult to impossible at times," with the combination of snow and very strong wind causing near-zero visibility.

Much of the storm was expected to be concentrated in a narrow band of lake-effect snow hovering over Buffalo's southern suburbs, which includes the Bills' home in Orchard Park.

The Steelers have pushed back their travel plans and will now head to Buffalo on Sunday.

After the NFL announcement, the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins shifted the start time of their home game against the Seattle Kraken on Monday from 6 p.m. to 1 p.m. to avoid a time conflict with the Bills-Steelers game.

The Bills are familiar with weather-related schedule changes. In 2022, a lake-effect storm led to Buffalo's home game against Cleveland being moved to Detroit in November. A month later, a massive blizzard forced the Bills to delay their trip home, forcing them to stay overnight in Chicago on Christmas Eve.

With files from The Associated Press

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