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Daniel Sorensen stuffs fake punt, forces fumble to help rally Chiefs within one win of Super Bowl

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Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a catch against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (21) and safety Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.

Jeff Roberson, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen played a role in one of the most memorable comebacks in football history.

Sorensen snuffed out a fake punt — a play that led to a Kansas City Chiefs touchdown on a short field — then forced a fumble on a kickoff return that again led to a touchdown as the Chiefs rallied from down 24-0 to beat the Houston Texans 51-31 in the AFC divisional round playoffs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

“We talked on the sideline about taking it one play at a time and stacking up positive plays. We were able to do that. We had a couple plays that turned in our favor, gave the offense the ball back, they capitalized, they scored. From there, we just kept carrying the momentum,” Sorensen said in a postgame interview.

“We worked together as a team, we played together as a team, and you saw a great team victory out there.”

The Chiefs fell behind by 24 points just four minutes into the second quarter before the rally got started with a quick Kansas City touchdown pass set up by a long kickoff return to make it 24-7. Houston’s next series stalled after three plays, but the Texans gambled, as Justin Reid took the direct snap and ran to try to convert the fourth-and-4 play. Sorensen slid over and made the open-field tackle on Reid, though, stopping him two yards short of the first down at the Houston 33-yard line.

“He’s one of our best special-teams players, if not the best one. That’s how he got into the league, and really made his name,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in his postgame press conference of Sorensen’s fourth-down stop. “We put him in those kinds of situations, and he made a big play. “That was a big call, and a big play, by (special teams coordinator Dave Toub) — he works on that kind of stuff — and then a nice play by Sorensen.”

Three plays later, Travis Kelce’s first of three second-quarter touchdown catches cut the Kansas City deficit to 24-14.

“That’s my responsibility. I did my job, just like anybody else would have done their job,” Sorensen said of the fourth-down play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Sorensen hit the Texans’ DeAndre Carter and forced him to fumble at the Houston 21. Former Utah State running back Darwin Thompson picked up the fumble and returned it 18 yards to the Texans 6, setting up a Kelce 6-yard TD grab on third down to make it 24-21.

The Chiefs scored 41 unanswered points after the disastrous start to become the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game by at least 20 points after trailing in the same game by at least 20 points. 

Sorensen, who started at free safety for Kansas City, finished with a game-high nine tackles, including four solo stops and the special-teams tackle that helped start the rally. He also made an assisted tackle short of the line to gain on a third-and-9 play early in the second quarter in the Chiefs red zone that forced Houston to kick a short field goal.

Up next for Kansas City is hosting Tennessee in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday, with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.

“We build on it. We look back — it gives us confidence. No matter how far we’re down, we’re going to fight. We’re going to fight until the end,” Sorensen said of how the comeback can galvanize the team’s playoff run.

Other locals during divisional round weekend

Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City: The former Utah State back recovered the fumble that Sorensen forced in the second quarter in his first NFL playoff game. 

Jackson Barton, OL, Kansas City: The former Utah and Brighton High lineman was not active in the Chiefs’ win.

Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco: The former BYU ’backer started at Mike linebacker and tallied a team-high seven tackles, including four solo stops and a tackle for no gain on a third-and-1 play in San Francisco territory, in the 49ers’ 27-10 win over Minnesota.

Mitch Wishnowsky, P, San Francisco: The former Utah standout punted four times for 186 yards — a 46.5-per kick average with a 41.5 net average — and had two punts inside the 20 in San Francisco’s win.

LeShaun Sims, CB, Tennessee: The former Southern Utah defensive back had two special-teams tackles, including a solo stop, in the Titans’ 28-12 win over Baltimore.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay: The former BYU back had one carry for 3 yards and a reception for 9 yards in Green Bay’s 28-23 win over Seattle.

Kyler Fackrell, LB, Green Bay: The former Utah State ’backer played but did not record any statistics in the Packers’ win.

Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle: The former Utah State star started at middle linebacker and had five tackles, including four solo stops, a quarterback hurry and a pass deflection on a third-down play in the Seahawks’ loss.

Cody Barton, LB, Seattle: The former Utah and Brighton High defender started at Sam linebacker and had three tackles in Seattle’s loss.

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE, Seattle: The former BYU pass rusher was not active in the Seahawks’ loss.

Marquise Blair, S, Seattle: The former Utah defender was not active in the Seahawks’ loss.

Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle: The former Utah State runner played but did not record any statistics in Seattle’s loss.

John Ursua, WR, Seattle: The former Cedar and Westlake High standout was not active in the Seahawks’ loss.

Bryan Mone, DT, Seattle: The former Highland High defender had two assisted tackles in Seattle’s loss.