From Devastation to Elation : The Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Buffalo Bills 42-36 In An Instant Classic AFC Divisional Thriller

January 24, 2022

Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO on January 23, 2022

In a clash of the two best teams in the AFC, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs outlast Josh Allen and the Bills to advance to their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. 

Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus Charles Robinson @CRob5769

  • Kansas City Chiefs 42, Buffalo Bills 36 (OT)
  • Patrick Mahomes : 33 for 44, 378 yards,  3 TD, 69 rush yards, 1 TD (447 total yards, 4 total TD) 
  • Tyreek Hill – 11 receptions, 150 yards, 1 TD 
  • Travis Kelce : 8 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD 
  • Chiefs : 182 rushing yards on 27 carriers (6.7 yards per carry), 2 TD
  • Kansas City will host Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game Sunday at 2 PM Central. The Chiefs will host their fourth consecutive AFC Championship game, which has never been done. 

The biggest mistake made last night was not by Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. It was not made by the receivers, running backs, offensive lines, either defense, either coaching staff, even the officials – which is surprising in 2021. The biggest mistake made last night was made by anyone on the face of the planet doubted the resiliency and greatness of Patrick Mahomes. 

Thirteen seconds. Josh Allen broke the heart of the Kingdom collectively with 13 second left on the clock. Another touchdown to Gabriel David. Another strike. The Bills led 36-33, and with 13 seconds on the block the outcome of the game looked bleak. I was guilty, momentarily, of making the biggest mistake of the night last night. “No one can go to the Super Bowl every year” I was telling myself. Great season, we know where we need to improve, we’ll be back next year in the same spot with the same opportunity to go back to another Super Bowl. It’s almost impossible to be short sighted when you’re talking about 13 seconds remaining in anything, but I figured out a way achieve just that. What happened next seems at this point to be as sure as death and taxes – Patrick Mahomes, along with his right hand men Tracis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, with the back of an entire franchise and city against the wall, redefined Mahomes Magic and led the most improbable come from behind victory that arguably anyone has ever seen. 

There are certain things that happen in your life, good or bad, that you will always remember where you were and who you were with when they happened. That was one of them. 

I typed, deleted, retyped, deleted, took a break, grabbed a cup of coffee, and typed and deleted some more trying to figure out how to start this blog off. I finally came to the conclusion that there is absolutely no way that my subpar brain is going to do this game justice with words. What a game. Patrick Mahomes – nearly flawless on the night. Josh Allen – just as good. Both defenses battled – the Chiefs without Tyrann Mathieu for most of the night, and Bills against a Chiefs team with revenge on their mind. The rushing attacks were dialed in. The Chiefs receiving weapons were on point, and even though the KC defense did an outstanding job of limiting the most lethal parts of the Buffalo offense not named Josh Allen (Stefon Diggs and Dawson Knox combined for 5 catches and 16 yards) Gabriel Davis nearly made the Chiefs miss the presence of Mathieu even more than they already did. This game was so incredible that lost in it was one of the most incredible redemption arcs in league history for Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. 

An unbelievable game that saw 25 points scored in the final 1:54 of game play was inevitably going to come down to who got the ball last. Fast forward to the coin toss, the Chiefs electing to receive after winning it, and Patrick Mahomes doing Patrick Mahomes things to ice the outcome. 

With all the billing and grandeur that went into the week leading up to this game, the actual product on the field delivered more than anyone could have pictured in their wildest dreams. We touted the battle royale of the two best quarterbacks in the AFC (realistically, the two best in the NFL) – we got it. There was a time in the first half, though, that this game actually just looked like a normal football game. The teams started out with equally impressive and methodical opening drives. The Bills opened the game with a 13 play, 71-yard drive that took just under 7 minutes off of the clock, converting two 4th down plays in the process. The Chiefs answered immediately with their own 11 play, 74-yard drive that took 5 minutes and 37 seconds off of the clock. The teams traded punts for the next 3 drives, the first time the Bills had punted since the regular season. After a 2-yard Byron Pringle touchdown where Mahomes seemed to say “f*ck it, Byron’s back there somewhere” while under pressure, the Bills came right back to tie the game at 14. Harrison Butker commited transgression number 1 against the Kingdom right before halftime missing a 50-yard field goal that took the game to halftime. 

The Chiefs defensive front was after Allen all night long, and in the third quarter it appeared that they may have cracked the code on how to stifle the Bills electric offense. The Chiefs opened the second half with a field goal, then forced another Buffalo punt before scoring another touchdown on a sensational 25 yard run from Mecole Hardman followed immediately by transgression number 2 from Butker. Buffalo would score on the first play from scrimmage following Hardman’s touchdown when Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis for his second of 4 touchdowns on the night. What happened in the fourth quarter in overtime will be talked about, written about, and played in highlight reels from now until the end of time. 

The players that we expected to show up in this game for the Chiefs showed up and then some. It’s a huge game at home in the postseason, what comes to your mind? Patrick Mahomes? Check. Tyreek Hill? Check. Travis Kelce. Check. But who else, amid all the chaos going on during this game, showed up and made a huge difference in this game against Buffalo? Let’s start with the running back room. Jerick McKinnon, for the second week in a row, was fantastic for Kansas City both receiving the ball and rushing the ball. The Chiefs freshest set of legs in the backfield racked up another 15 touches on offense for 78 yards (on the postseason 33 touches for 220 yards) and again played a crucial role in the screen game, keeping the Bills pass rush on their heels having to account for his ability out of the backfield. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, in his return from a shoulder injury he suffered against Pittsburgh in week 16, ran the ball with a purpose. Edwards-Helaire totaled only 7 carriers in his return but gained 60 yards for a clip of 8.6 yards per carry. His burst was noticeable, particularly on a 22 yard in the second quarter. Byron Pringle (mentioned above), Mecole Hardman, and Noah Grey did it again this week, giving Mahomes something that surely makes the rest of the NFL cringe – more reliable weapons. Each came up big at different points of the game. Pringle and Hardman provided touchdowns in the first half. Grey had an absolutely crucial third down catch in the third quarter that kept a scoring drive alive for the Chiefs. 

But the biggest unsung heroes of the night for the Chiefs offense? If you’ve been reading my stuff all year, this is no surprise to you – but the KC offensive line set the tone from the beginning and maintained it all night. The first drive of the game was slightly questionable for the big men. Mahomes had 49 of his 69 rushing yard on the opening drive, largely because his pocket broke down and he had no other choice. Receivers were covered, pass rushers were getting into the backfield, and he had to improvise. But the remainder of the night? Well, I’ll start by saying the Bills had 42 sacks in the regular season. That’s 2.5 per game, give or take 0.03 sacks. The Chiefs did give up 2 last night, but only accounted for 8 yards lost. The Bills run defense, which gave up an averaged of 109 yards per game in the regular season, were taken to the woodshed last night for 182 yards on the ground by the Chiefs on 27 carries for an average of 6.7 yards per carry. Unbelievable performance from the big men up front. One penalty on the night as well, a hold on right tackle Andrew Wylie that was called simply because he was out in the open. 2 sacks. In a game where the stakes were this high, and the opponent was this good, the young offensive line of the Chiefs shined. 

Defensively, giving up 36 points and 422 yards isn’t exactly what you want to see, but the resiliency that this unit showed – particularly the leaders of the defense – needs to be commended. Tyrann Mathieu went out on the first possession of the game. For those who follow the Chiefs, you know that Mathieu is the heartbeat of that group. His leadership not just in the locker room and on the sidelines, but on the field in the defensive secondary is an intangible that creates issues for the entire unit when he is missing. What did the Chiefs do in response to losing Mathieu? Chris Jones and Melvin Ingram got into it on the sideline, and from there the defense seemed to have it put together as well as they could. Jarran Reed showed up big in the first half with a sack of Josh Allen. Nick Bolton, the rookie that has been producing all year long, was a tackling machine again for the Chiefs defense. Frank Clark’s effort was unparalleled. L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward’s names were not called much during the broadcast, but that was a very good thing for the Chiefs defense. The two corners, along with safety Juan Thornhill, were a huge catalyst to the Chiefs shutting down Diggs, Knox, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cole Beasley for most of the night. One player accounted for 201 of the Bills 313 receiving yards, in large part due to the absence of Mathieu and cornerback Rashad Fenton, who was inactive for the game. 

And Harrison Butker. A rags to riches story contained in the parameter of one NFL football game. Twitter was on fire, myself included, with hot Harrison Butker takes after his first half missed field goal and third quarter missed extra point. I will say, those 4 points would have been real nice with the Bills driving down the field down 8 with 1:02 on the clock, but the way it all played out turned out to be the best story you could write. I had a feeling Butker would get a chance to redeem himself, and with a little Mahomes Magic with 13 seconds left on the clock, he did with a 48 yard field goal as time expired to tie the game and send it in to overtime. The rest was on Mahomes, and he delivered. 

The debate over whether Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes is the better quarterback is a great one and will rage on for the next few years as both continue to evolve, and their rosters are continually built and rebuilt around them. If last night is any indication of what we are to expect in the coming years from this rivalry, we are all in for a treat. Allen did everything he could to win the game for his team, throwing nearly a perfect game and still flexing the ability to get it done with his feet. But Patrick Mahomes was better. Mahomes threw for more yards. He rushed for more yards. He took his team 45 yards in 13 seconds to set up the tie, and then took his team 75 yards in just over 4 minutes in overtime to drop a dime to Travis Kelce in the corner of the endzone to put the game on ice, end the Bills season, and advance to the AFC Championship game, which they will host for a record fourth year in a row. 

This was a total team victory. In fact, both teams showed up and played put up performances that were as close to perfection as you can attain in the game of football. It really is kind of a shame that one team had to lose. I also am of the opinion that had any other team suited up against either the Bills or Chiefs the way they played last night, they would have gotten rolled. This was the highest level of football you can watch, on one of the biggest stages, that was hyped through the roof and delivered. But the man of the hour, the man who led his team through the fire to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, the man who is an has been the best player in the NFL showed up and reminded America who he was. Last week I wrote : 

“[Allen and Mahomes] Both are great players, and the fact that we as fans get to watch this rivalry continue to grow and develop this year (and for many years to come) is something that we should sit back and truly appreciate win or lose. But right now there is only one correct answer to the question being posed. The answer is the King of the AFC is the best player taking the field this weekend, and until someone takes the throne away, that answer remains the same. Josh Allen could be the one to do it this weekend, if he and his team show up and execute an effective gameplan. But if King Patrick and the Chiefs show up and do the same, I like the chances of the crown staying in the Kingdom.”

The crown is still in the Kingdom. The best player alive wears 15 for the Chiefs, and we should never doubt him again. While I’m sure there will be plenty of tired takes about Joe Burrow and the Bengals having the advantage going in to the AFC Championship game on Sunday, we should not take the bait. We know what we have, and we know exactly what that means. I would encourage my fellow members of Chiefs Kingdom to not let this memory fade. Actually, do what you want with it – anything that bring out LaVon is good for the Chiefs and for the Kingdom. We’ll be on to Cincinnati tomorrow, but for now let’s embrace and appreciate one of the greatest victory Mondays of all time. 

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