The Chiefs needed to rely on backup quarterback Chad Henne to win the game.
Henne came in for Patrick Mahomes in the third quarter after the star quarterback was ruled out of the game when he appeared to hit his head hard on the ground trying to scramble for a first down. The backup would lead the Chiefs to a field goal on that drive but throw a terrible interception to Karl Joseph on the next.
Kansas City’s defense would step up and force the Browns to punt about midway through the fourth quarter. Cleveland would not get the ball again.
On 3rd-and-long with less than two minutes left in the game, Henne would scramble and get Kansas City within inches of a first down.
Henne would find Tyreek Hill on the following play to get the first down and seal the victory.
Henne was 6-for-8 with 66 passing yards and the interception. Mahomes finished with two total touchdowns and 255 passing yards. Darrell Williams led the Chiefs with 78 rushing yards.
Hill and Travis Kelce each had more than 100 yards receiving. Hill had eight catches for 110 yards. Kelce had eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Mayfield finished 23-for-37 with 204 passing yards, a touchdown pass and an interception. Jarvis Landry had the Browns’ lone touchdown catch. Kareem Hunt added a touchdown on the ground. He had 32 rushing yards. Nick Chubb led with 69 rushing yards.
The Browns gave the defending Super Bowl champions everything they had but came up just short of going to the conference championship game for the first time since the 1989 season.
The Chiefs move within one win away from a second consecutive Super Bowl berth. But the Bills, who beat the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, are standing in their way.
It will be a rematch from the 1993 AFC Championship game – the last time Buffalo made it that far in the playoffs. In that game, the Bills defeated the Chiefs 30-13.