Courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills, 38-24, at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night to punch their ticket to a second-consecutive Super Bowl.
The Chiefs fell behind by two scores early but quickly overcame it with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter and never looked back. In total, Kansas City outscored Buffalo, 38-15, following the first quarter of action.
Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 29-of-38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in the contest, passing Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan for the most scoring strikes (17) through seven career playoff games in NFL history.
It was a performance in line with what’s become expected from the reigning Super Bowl MVP, and despite a toe injury that Mahomes suffered in the Chiefs’ Divisional Round victory over Cleveland, the 25-year-old quarterback led Kansas City to a fifth-straight postseason victory.
It certainly didn’t look that way at first though, as Buffalo jumped out to a quick, nine-point advantage as the Bills tallied a field goal on their opening series before finding the end zone two possessions later. The latter score was set up when Chiefs’ return man Mecole Hardman mishandled a Buffalo punt and the Bills recovered it, leading to a 3-yard touchdown connection between Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen and tight end Dawson Knox just one snap later.
The Chiefs were sure to respond, however, marching 80 yards in 14 plays – including a short fourth-down conversion just outside the red zone – to get on the board when Mahomes found Hardman for a 3-yard score.
Kansas City then had the lead a series later, as tailback Darrel Williams – following a 50-yard run by Hardman a bit earlier – powered ahead for a 6-yard touchdown to complete the early comeback.
The Chiefs’ momentum continued into the Bills’ ensuing possession – forcing a quick punt – and Kansas City kept it rolling on offense, too, as Mahomes led a 9-play, 77-yard drive that tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire punctuated with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
That made it 21 unanswered points for Kansas City following the early nine-point deficit, and while Buffalo tallied three points just before halftime with a field goal, the Chiefs matched with a field goal of their own to begin the second half.
The Bills added another field goal a possession later, but that made it back-to-back drives in which Buffalo drove inside the Chiefs’ 10-yard line but came away with only a field goal to show for it.
Kansas City then made the Bills pay almost right away, as wide receiver Tyreek Hill turned a modest, 9-yard gain into a 71-yard pickup by weaving through defenders all the way inside Buffalo red zone, and just a few snaps later, the Chiefs were back in the end zone when Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce for a 1-yard touchdown.
Chiefs’ cornerback Rashad Fenton intercepted Allen on the Bills’ next drive, leading to another Kelce touchdown – this time from five yards out – and while Buffalo strung together nine points late, it wasn’t enough to get back into it.
Hill led all receivers with 172 yards on nine grabs while Kelce hauled in 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Chiefs racked up four sacks and 10 quarterback hits while pressuring Allen 27 times, according to ESPN.
It all helped the Chiefs clinch a second-consecutive AFC title and punch their ticket to Super Bowl LV, where they’ll take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an opportunity to become the first team since the 2003-04 New England Patriots to win back-to-back world championships.