Patrick Mahomes engineered yet another miraculous playoff comeback, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a breathtaking 42-36 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in an instant AFC Divisional classic.
Chiefs Build Early Lead Before Bills Storm Back
The Chiefs jumped out to a 14-3 first quarter lead behind two Mahomes touchdown passes. But Josh Allen and the Bills refused to go away, scoring 14 unanswered points in the second quarter to tie the game at halftime.
Kansas City extended their lead to 23-14 late in the third quarter after a Harrison Butker field goal. But just when it looked like the Chiefs were poised to pull away, Allen led Buffalo on back-to-back touchdown drives to stunningly give the Bills a 29-23 advantage early in the fourth.
Mahomes Magic Forces Overtime
With the Bills up 36-33 and only 13 seconds remaining, Mahomes somehow drove Kansas City 44 yards in two plays to set up a game-tying 49-yard Butker field goal as time expired.
The Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and Mahomes completed two more big passes to Travis Kelce to set up the winning score – an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kelce to cap off an unbelievable comeback.
“It was definitely a crazy game,” Mahomes said after the win. “The Bills played extremely hard like we knew they would. But we just kept battling and found a way to get it done.”
Instant Classic Adds Another Chapter to Burgeoning Mahomes-Allen Rivalry
Sunday’s contest marked the fifth head-to-head meeting between Mahomes and Josh Allen over the past two seasons. Their burgeoning rivalry is already being compared to some of the greatest in NFL history.
|October 16, 2022
|Bills 24, Chiefs 20
|Allen: 329 pass yds, 3 TD
Mahomes: 338 pass yds, 2 TD
|January 23, 2022*
|Chiefs 42, Bills 36 (OT)
|Allen: 329 pass yds, 4 TD
Mahomes: 378 pass yds, 3 TD
|January 29, 2023
|Chiefs 38, Bills 24
|Mahomes: 377 pass yds, 2 TD
Allen: 353 pass yds, 3 TD
|October 1, 2023
|Bills 34, Chiefs 27
|Allen: 378 pass yds, 4 TD
Mahomes: 359 pass yds, 2 TD
|January 21, 2024*
|Chiefs 42, Bills 36 (OT)
|Allen: 397 pass yds, 4 TD
Mahomes: 417 pass yds, 3 TD
* indicates playoff game
Mahomes and Allen have traded spectacular performances over this stretch, combining to average about 365 passing yards and over 3 touchdowns per matchup. And the games themselves have almost all come down to the final possessions.
“It’s crazy just to be here in this moment,” Mahomes said. “To play against a great quarterback like Josh again and get another legendary game. I’m just glad we came out on top this time.”
Instant Classic Follows Familiar Script for Chiefs Under Mahomes
While Sunday’s win came on the road, it followed a familiar script from past Chiefs playoff victories behind Mahomes. The Chiefs have made staging dramatic comebacks something of a specialty since Mahomes took over at quarterback.
Just last season, Kansas City fell behind 27-0 at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars before storming back to win. They also erased double-digit fourth quarter deficits in playoff wins over Houston in 2020 and San Francisco in 2021 on their way to consecutive Super Bowls.
Mahomes set career highs on Sunday with 417 yards passing and four touchdowns to spearhead the latest comeback.
“Every time you want to count us out, we always find a way,” veteran tight end Travis Kelce said. “It starts with Pat. That guy comes to play when the lights are the brightest. And he lifts all of us up with him.”
Questions Surround Allen and Bills After Devastating Loss
While Mahomes continued cementing his playoff legacy, questions surround Allen and the Bills after yet another gut-wrenching postseason defeat.
Despite Allen’s brilliance, Buffalo is now 0-3 in playoff games decided by a touchdown or less over the past two years. And Allen himself is just 2-4 in his playoff career.
Allen put the Bills in position to win with a stellar outing on Sunday. But Mahomes one-upped him again during crunch time.
Bills Mafia had hoped this might finally be the year Buffalo broke through to the Super Bowl after decades of frustration. Instead, they witnessed perhaps their most devastating playoff loss yet on Sunday evening.
“This one hurts for all of us,” Allen said afterwards. “We worked so hard and believed this was our season. I wanted this so badly for this team and this city. I’m just at a loss for words right now.”
After utterly dominating the regular season with a 15-3 record, the Bills looked poised to avenge last season’s loss to Kansas City and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Now their championship dreams remain unfulfilled once again.
Mahomes Seeks Elusive First Road Playoff Win
Despite leading another epic comeback, one curious hole remains on Mahomes’ otherwise sterling playoff resume – he still has never won a road playoff game as Kansas City’s starting quarterback.
Mahomes kept that streak alive by engineering Sunday’s comeback at Arrowhead Stadium. But he will look to buck that trend next week when the Chiefs visit either Cincinnati or Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game.
Kansas City’s lone road playoff win during Mahomes’ tenure came with backup Chad Henne under center last season against Houston. Henne memorably scrambled for a key first down late in the game to help seal the win after Mahomes exited with a concussion.
Winning playoff games anywhere with Mahomes running the show is no easy task these days though. The Bills can certainly attest to that after Sunday’s outcome. But finally proving he can lead the Chiefs to victory on the road would further validate Mahomes’ stellar postseason credentials.
“It’s not something I really think about or get caught up in,” Mahomes said of his road playoff struggles. “I just try to focus on executing on gameday – home or away. Luckily, I have a lot of great teammates who elevate their play at the biggest moments regardless of where we’re playing.”
If Mahomes pilots another playoff comeback on the road this year, it will only add to his growing legend.
Surging Bengals Could Await Chiefs After Emotional Win
The Cincinnati Bengals present a potential major road block for Kansas City’s Super Bowl three-peat hopes. Fresh off their own exhilarating wild card weekend win over Baltimore, the red-hot Bengals will host the Chiefs-Bills winner next Sunday.
Cincinnati has won nine straight games behind a resurgent Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback battled through an appendectomy and other injuries to help spearhead the team’s late season surge after a slow start.
Of course, the Chiefs are no strangers to facing these Bengals on the playoff stage after edging them in overtime of the AFC Championship Game last season. So another classic Mahomes vs. Burrow showdown could be on tap with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
“It’s going to be another dogfight if we play Cincinnati again,” Mahomes said. “We know that from experience. All we can do is enjoy this one tonight and then get back to work.”
The Chiefs faithful will use tonight to revel in their team’s latest miraculous playoff moment behind their star quarterback. But ready or not, another dangerous playoff matchup lurks right around the corner next Sunday. Buckle up.
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