The Kansas City Chiefs inflicted yet another knockout blow to the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl dreams as they booked their spot at a sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game with a 27-24 victory at Orchard Park on Sunday night.
Bills kicker Tyler Bass squandered a chance to draw the sides level inside the final two minutes when he fired a 44-yard field goal wide to leave the Bills staring at another gut-wrenching playoff exit.
For Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, victory continues the defence of their Super Bowl crown after a game in which their offense had looked as effective as it has all season amid its well-publicised struggles. Buffalo’s six-game winning streak meanwhile comes to an end after they had fought valiantly to turn their campaign around having found themselves sitting 6-6 and out of the playoff picture at the end of November.
Rarely does a matchup between the two AFC powerhouses disappoint, as much remaining true as the sides offered up five lead changes in the latest instalment of their rivalry – the final one proving decisive as Isiah Pacheco’s touchdown run put Kansas City on top for good in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes finished the game 17/23 for 215 yards and two touchdown passes to tight end Travis Kelce, with the pair making NFL history by surpassing Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for the most postseason touchdowns between a quarterback-receiver duo.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen rushed for two touchdowns and three for another, while Stefon Diggs was quiet once again as he managed just three catches for 21 yards.
The Chiefs will now face Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens on Championship weekend for a spot at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, where the winner will meet one of the San Francisco 49ers or Detroit Lions from the NFC.
The Chiefs, having trailed at the break, offered the perfect start to the second half when Kelce scurried outside before reaching for the pylon for a three-yard touchdown to hand Kansas City a 20-17 advantage after the extra point.
Allen and the Bills answered straight back as they reverted to the run game and converted on three third down situations, the latter of which saw Buffalo’s quarterback throw a stunning 13-yard off-platform touchdown strike to Khalil Shakir, who showed tremendous hands to out-work L’Jarius Sneed and make the grab at the pylon.
The lead changed again moments later, Pacheco this time bulldozing his way into the end zone for a four-yard score to restore the Chiefs’ lead at 27-24.
Chaos ensued when Damar Hamlin was stuffed on a fake punt attempt on fourth down to hand the ball back to the Chiefs, who would fail to capitalise on the error as Mecole Hardman fumbled through the end zone for a touchback to keep the game alive.
Allen survived a fumble and converted on a fourth down while orchestrating a 16-play drive in response, only for Bass to misfire on his 44-yard kick attempt with 1.47 to play.
Pacheco was then on hand to ice the game with a first down run to plunge Orchard Park into silence at the sight of another missed opportunity in Buffalo’s agonising push for a Super Bowl.
Allen had given the Bills a 17-13 lead at the break when he powered over for a two-yard touchdown run, his 18th rushing touchdown of the season, to cap a 12-play 75-yard drive that saw Shakir make an outstanding contested catch to convert on third-and-five.
It served as the perfect reply to Kansas City moving on top after Mahomes picked out a wide-open Kelce for a 22-yard touchdown, prompting his shirt-less brother Jason to celebrate momentarily with fans in the crowd.
Buffalo had struck first on the night when they rounded off their 14-play opening drive with a 27-yard field goal from Bass, to which the Chiefs replied through a 47-yard kick from Harrison Butker.
Allen then found the end zone on a five-yard scurry to make it 10-3 early in the second quarter after an 11-play march during which the Bills ran the ball nine times.
Butker followed up by reducing the deficit to 10-6 with a 29-yard field goal before the sides exchanged touchdowns late in the half.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Passing: Patrick Mahomes, 17/23, 215 yards, 2 TDs
- Rushing: Isiah Pacheco, 15 carries, 97 yards, 1 TD
- Receiving: Travis Kelce, 5 catches, 75 yards, 2 TDs
- Passing: Josh Allen, 26/39, 186 yards, 1 TD
- Rushing: Josh Allen, 12 carries, 72 yards, 2 TDs
- Receiving: Dalton Kincaid, 5 catches, 45 yards
|Chiefs 0-3 Bills
|Tyler Bass 27-yard field goal
|Chiefs 3-3 Bills
|Harrison Butker 47-yard field goal
|Chiefs 3-10 Bills
|Josh Allen five-yard rushing TD (extra point)
|Chiefs 6-10 Bills
|Harrison Butker 29-yard field goal
|Chiefs 13-10 Bills
|Patrick Mahomes 22-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce (extra point)
|Chiefs 13-17 Bills
|Josh Allen two-yard rushing TD (extra point)
|Chiefs 20-17 Bills
|Patrick Mahomes three-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce (extra point)
|Chiefs 20-24 Bills
|Josh Allen 13-yard TD pass to Khalil Shakir (extra point)
|Chiefs 27-17 Bills
|Isiah Pacheco four-yard rushing TD (extra point)
The Chiefs will now face the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game after the No. 1-seeded Baltimore advanced thanks to their victory over the Houston Texans.
Earlier in the night the Lions punched their ticket to the NFC Championship showdown with victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, setting up a clash with the 49ers after they edged out the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night.
Watch both games live on Sky Sports NFL from 7pm next Sunday as the final four battle for a spot at Super Bowl LVIII.
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