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Daniel Sorensen’s forced fumble prevents a touchdown, a key moment in Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff win

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) fumbles the ball over Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen at the goal line during the first half of an NFL divisional round football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City.
Orlin Wagner, Assocciated Press

Former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen made numerous momentum-changing plays during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl championship run in last year’s playoffs.

The defender known as Dirty Dan brought the playmaking ability to the field again Sunday as the Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns 22-17 in the NFL divisional round. With the win, Kansas City will host the Buffalo Bills in next week’s AFC championship game.

Sorensen’s big play Sunday came just before halftime when he forced a fumble near the goal line.

With Cleveland trailing 16-3 and facing a first-and-10 at the Kansas City 26 with less than two minutes until the break, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield dropped back and threw to his right, where wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught the pass at the Chiefs 5. With Sorensen between him and the end zone, Higgins turned and headed for the pylon, where he was met by Sorensen, who jarred the ball loose and it rolled out the side of the end zone for a touchback.

Kansas City turned the momentum-changing play into points, going on a field-goal scoring drive to make it a 19-3 game at halftime.

The play was controversial, as upon review, it was apparent Sorensen had led with his helmet while making the hit. There was no flag for targeting on the play, however, and by rule, it was not reviewable.

Sorensen’s forced fumble proved crucial, as the Browns rallied from down 16 and made it 22-17 less than four minutes into the final quarter. To compound that, Kansas City All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes left in the third quarter with a concussion, giving way to backup Chad Henne.

The Chiefs, however, made a key defensive stop in the fourth quarter and held on for the victory as Henne threw to Tyreek Hill for 5 yards and a first down on a fourth-and-1 play near midfield with just over a minute to play. Henne then took a knee to wrap up the victory.

Sorensen finished with six tackles — including four solo stops — and a key quarterback hurry that led to an incompletion on a second-down play late in the game that helped force a Cleveland punt on its final possession.

Here’s a look at how other Utah ties on active rosters performed on Sunday in the divisional round:

Chiefs 22, Browns 17

Kansas City

  • Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU: See above.
  • Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State: Played as a reserve.

Cleveland

  • Brian Allen, CB, Utah: Not active for game.
  • Porter Gustin, DE, Salem Hills High: 1 assisted tackle.
  • Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU: Started at linebacker, 5 tackles, including 3 solo stops.

Buccaneers 30, Saints 20

Tampa Bay

  • No Utah ties on roster

New Orleans

  • Kaden Elliss, LB, Judge Memorial High: Played as a reserve.
  • Chase Hansen, LB, Utah and Lone Peak High: Played as a reserve.
  • Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: Hill was declared inactive for Sunday’s game with a knee injury.
  • Marcus Williams, FS, Utah: Started at free safety, 5 tackles, including 4 solo stops.