It took the Kansas City Chiefs five frustrating decades to make their second Super Bowl appearance. Now, the defending champs are headed there for the second straight year.
Showing no lingering effects from a concussion, Patrick Mahomes sliced up Buffalo’s secondary with ruthless efficiency as the Chiefs rolled to a 38-24 victory over Josh Allen and the Bills in the AFC championship game on Sunday night. Mahomes threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns, with most of the attention focused on his favorite targets Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.
The Chiefs will face a familiar foe Tom Brady and the NFC champ Buccaneers in two weeks in Tampa, Florida.
Kelce finished with 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Hill added nine catches for 172 yards, becoming the first duo in NFL history with consecutive games of at least 100 yards receiving each in a single postseason.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams added short TD runs for the Chiefs, who will try to become the eighth franchise and first team since the Brady-led New England Patriots in 2003 and ‘04 to defend the Lombardi Trophy.
Allen, who had his worst game of the season in a Week 6 loss to the Chiefs, again struggled against the blitzing Kansas City defense. He finished with 287 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception, but a big chunk of his numbers came as the Bills tried to rally from a 38-15 deficit in the final minutes.
Their frustration boiled over with 3:19 to go, when Allen was getting sacked by Tanoh Kpassagnon. Alex Okafor finished off the tackle, and Allen pitched the ball in his face in retaliation. Offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Dion Dawkins rushed in and leveled Okafor, resulting in a flood of offsetting personal foul penalties.
It capped a bitter loss for the Bills, who had reached their first AFC title game since beating Kansas City at home on 1 January 1994. They had won 11 of 12 since their loss to the Chiefs earlier this season, and they hadn’t trailed in the second half since Week 8 and were riding a wave of confidence that this might finally be their championship year.
Instead, after finally conquering the Patriots in the AFC East, the Bills have a new roadblock to the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs actually spotted the Bills a 9-0 lead, thanks in large part to Mecole Hardman’s muffed punt inside their five that gifted Buffalo a touchdown. But the reigning champs were hardly rattled; the Chiefs, after all, rallied from double-digits in each of their postseason wins last season, including their Super Bowl triumph over San Francisco.
Mahomes and Kelce soon found their groove. And the rest of the Chiefs offense followed suit.