NFL play-offs: Kansas City Chiefs beat Miami Dolphins after Houston Texans thump Cleveland Browns

  • Published14 January
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NFL play-offs: Chiefs and Texans dominate on wildcard Saturday

By Ben CollinsBBC Sport

NFL play-offs

Dates: 13-28 January 2024

BBC coverage: Live text coverage of every match on the BBC Sport website and app and live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds every Sunday evening, beginning with Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys (21:00-01:30 GMT)

The Kansas City Chiefs overcame historically cold conditions in Missouri to keep alive their hopes of becoming back-to-back NFL champions.

With the temperature at Arrowhead Stadium having plummeted to -20C, the Chiefs' play-off match with the Miami Dolphins was the fourth coldest NFL game on record.

And the hosts handled it better, claiming a 26-7 win to reach the divisional round and stay on course for a third title in five years.

Earlier on Saturday, the Houston Texans kicked off wildcard weekend with a 45-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns.

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Image source, ReutersImage caption,

The Miami Dolphins barely threatened after Rashee Rice scored on the game's opening drive in a bitterly cold Kansas City

Kansas City are aiming to be the first team to win back-to-back titles since the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons and they made a positive start as Rashee Rice scored an 11-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive.

Each side then had a cautious approach, with Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa having just six completions for 94 yards in the first half – 53 of them coming from a touchdown pass to former Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill.

With a wind chill of -32C, it was so cold that Chiefs coach Andy Reid had icicles on his moustache, and his team settled for three field goals in the second quarter to lead 16-7, with Harrison Butker adding another in the third.

Miami will rue losing at home to Buffalo last week in the final game of the regular season as it meant they missed out on being the second seed in the AFC Conference and home advantage.

So instead of playing in 22C heat in Florida this week, they had to face the defending champions at a frigid Arrowhead, and Isiah Pacheco's touchdown ensured Miami went out with a whimper after what had been such a promising season.

Stroud continues fine rookie season as Texans progress

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,

CJ Stroud registered 4,108 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions in his rookie season

CJ Stroud outwitted Joe Flacco to lead Houston to a dominant win at home to the Cleveland Browns in this season's first play-off game.

Rookie quarterback Stroud, 22, was just six years old when veteran Flacco, 38, made his NFL debut in 2008.

Yet Stroud produced a composed display against the former Super Bowl champion to become the youngest starting quarterback to win a play-off game.

The second pick in the 2024 draft, Stroud tied a rookie record by throwing three touchdown passes in a play-off game to give Houston a 24-14 lead at half-time.

The Texans, who improved from just three wins in 2022 to a 10-7 record this season, then scored back-to-back pick sixes in the third quarter to put the game beyond the Browns.

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After a cagey start in Houston, the game burst into life with four touchdowns in just over five minutes either side of the first-quarter mark.

Cleveland's Kareem Hunt got into the end zone from a yard before Stroud hit straight back, finding Nico Collins to run it into the corner.

Flacco then found Hunt for an 11-yard score and, on the very next snap, Stroud dumped it off to tight end Brevin Jordan, who jinked inside before charging down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown.

Right before half-time, Stroud lofted the ball to tight end Dalton Schulz for a 37-yard score, before the game swung in the Texans' favour.

DeMeco Ryans' men had not claimed a pick-six all season yet had two in two drives, with Steven Nelson running in an interception from 82 yards, before Christian Harris did so from 36.

The Browns signed free agent Flacco in November after a season-ending injury to former Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the veteran claimed four wins from five starts to ensure Cleveland reached the play-offs.

However, he now has 10 interceptions from six games for the Browns – twice as many as Stroud has coughed up in a superb rookie season.

Houston's Devin Singletary ran in the final touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Texans could afford to bench Stroud, who finished with 274 passing yards and no interceptions.

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