Analysis: Backup QBs saw plenty of action in NFL playoffs

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Backup quarterbacks did more than just hold clipboards in the NFL’s divisional playoff round.

Jameis Winston threw a 56-yard trick-play touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith on his first playoff action after 76 regular-season games over six seasons.

Chad Henne, the Chiefs’ 35-year-old backup, also got his first taste of the playoffs Sunday when he was pressed into duty after former MVP Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter against Cleveland.

In his 72nd NFL game, Henne atoned for an end zone interception with two huge plays to allow the Chiefs to escape with a 22-17 win over the Browns.

A day earlier, another ex-MVP, Lamar Jackson, was knocked out of Baltimore’s 17-3 loss at Buffalo and was replaced by Tyler Huntley, an undrafted rookie from Utah who ascended to QB2 status last month when Robert Griffin III (hamstring) and Trace McSorely (knee) ended up on IR.

The only game that both quarterbacks took all the snaps was the Packers’ 32-18 win over the Rams, when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns and Jared Goff was an efficient 21 of 27 a week after he was pressed into duty just 12 days post-surgery on his broken right thumb.

Rodgers and Tom Brady, making his 14th conference championship appearance in 21 seasons, square off next week at Lambeau Field. Mahomes will have to clear concussion protocol to face the Bills and Josh Allen, who has completed 68.1% of his playoff passes after completing 69.2% of his throws in his breakout 2020 regular season.