Two more wins separate Fallon’s Josh Mauga from playing in the Super Bowl.
After Kansas City dismantled Houston, 30-0,almost one week agfo for the first playoff shutout in 10 years, the Chiefs travel to New England to take on the second-seeded Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:35 p.m. on CBS. The winner faces either Denver or Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship next week.
The victory also snapped an eight-game losing streak in the playoffs, including the disastrous 2015 exit when Kansas City blew a four-touchdown lead in Indianapolis. The Chiefs last won in the playoffs against the Oilers in 1994.
The defense and special teams played a key role in the win over the Texans on Saturday after Knile Davis ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. From there, the defense took over and Mauga, in his second year with the team as a starting inside linebacker, stepped in front of Brian Hoyer pass on the goal line and registered his third interception of the year.
“As far as the game goes, again, everybody had an opportunity to contribute – from special teams starting it off, to defense and offense, the turnovers were absolutely huge,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told the team website. “(Josh) Mauga’s interception kind of sealed it, I thought, in a sense, even though there was time left. He did a nice job there.”
Mauga ended the day with three tackles but has been on fire since coming back from a brief mid-season injury. Along with the three picks, he picked up his first sack against San Diego and has helped a surging Chiefs defense during the team’s 11-game winning streak. The defense forced five turnovers in Houston.
Mauga’s starting to appear on the radar, especially after his big play against Houston. He caught the eye of NFL Films’ Greg Cosell and has shown his familiarity with Bob Sutton’s defense back from the Jets’ days is paying off in Kansas City.
“Last year, I started to notice Josh Mauga at inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson, and in a defense filled with names, Mauga doesn’t get much attention, but he’s a really good player who fits well within the context of this defense,” Cosell told Sports Illustrated this week.
Mauga and the Chiefs get back to work this weekend when they face one of the best quarterbacks in modern NFL history. In the team’s last meeting with the Patriots, the Chiefs came out victorious at Arrowhead last year, embarrassing the AFC East champs on Monday Night Football.
This year, though, is different as both teams updated their personnel. But the biggest challenge as teams encounter anytime they face New England is containing Tom Brady.
“You’re not going to trick Tom Brady very many times, so you just try to maybe cause a little confusion in his mind and that’s very hard to do because he’s seen every single thing you can do,” Sutton told the team website. “Unless you guys have got something that we don’t have yet, but he’s a really challenging guy so you just try to make it as difficult for him as you possibly can. But in the end with all of these things happening, the only thing I think you have to fall back on is you have to be able to play fast, you have to be able to stick your feet in the ground, you have to be able to plant, drive and go so you try to eliminate as many of the concerns that you think you might have.”