Recap: Chiefs advance to the AFC Championship with stunning victory over Buffalo

The Chiefs beat the Bills in a captivating 4th quarter battle. (Chiefs Wire)

Cristian Martinez

In my many years of watching the Kansas City Chiefs play, I never felt the way I did Sunday night. 

It was almost the end of the fourth quarter. The ever-so-athletic Josh Allen had delivered a deadly strike to his up-and-coming wide receiver Gabriel Davis. I got up from my seat and walked away from Arrowhead Stadium, feeling deflated and defeated. There were 13 seconds on the game clock, and all hope was lost.

My Charlie Brown sad-walk was reminiscent of what many fans felt that cold, dreary night (even though there were some explicit comments about the Chiefs’ secondary and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the usual suspects). However, a godsend arrived just in time.  

His name? Patrick. Lavon. Mahomes. The second.

Before I bow down to the feats of the newly named Grim Reaper, let me just tell you how it came to this. 

The Bills started Sunday’s game with the football and drove down the field with the help of Devin Singletary’s and Josh Allen’s marvelous mobility. Allen tested the Chiefs’ defense early on with quick passes and designed runs. All of a sudden, cornerback L’Jarious Sneed forced a fourth down near the 50-yard line with a secure tackle on Cole Beasley. The Chiefs faced their first big test on fourth-and-two.

Allen lined up in shotgun formation with Singletary on the right side. The Chiefs shifted forward, anticipating a run. However, no one can stop the big-bodied quarterback when he hits his gazelle-like stride. Allen fakes a hand-off to his running back and darts it to the right side for a first down. During the process, defensive tackle Jarran Reed hit star safety Tyrann Mathieu in the back of the head, which led to a concussion. He was questionable to return but was downgraded to out after he officially entered concussion protocol. His presence on the field was desperately missed, even on the first drive.

After a couple of passes, an end-around run and a fourth-down touchdown, the Bills notched the first points of the game. 

It was the Chiefs turn to respond. Their first drive hinted at how spectacular Mahomes would be that night. After a couple of runs, the gunslinger faced a third-and-six. Right from the snap, a multitude of Bills rushed the offensive line, collapsing the pocket quickly. However, Mahomes shifted around the pocket and scurried to the right. He found an open man in running back Jerick McKinnon, made a spontaneous shovel pass and got the first down.

If that wasn’t enough, Mahomes faced another third-and-six. Once again, the Bills showed a heavy blitz and startled the Chiefs quarterback. However, he showed everyone his pocket mobility and found an open lane down the middle of the field. He would burst through for a 34-yard run that placed the offense near the 20-yard line. Mahomes finished off his impressive drive with a diving touchdown to tie the game, 7-7. 

After tying the game and eating up almost the rest of the first quarter, the Chiefs needed a defensive stop to have another chance to score. It was a tough task to begin with. Allen’s short passes and his legs allowed for the Bills to march down the field with ease. They were looking to continue their whimsical streak of scoring only touchdowns on every single drive, but Melvin Ingram ended their hopes. 

It was third and 10, with Allen lined up in shotgun formation, two receivers on his right and one on his left. When he took the snap, the Chiefs’ secondary covered each pass catcher nicely. Allen surveyed the field, while Melvin Ingram sped his way through the right tackle. The pocket was collapsing in on Allen, and three defenders smothered the Bills’ quarterback for a sack. This defensive stop came in at the right time, as the Bills dished the Chiefs a great offensive opportunity. However, a special team’s blunder would hinder that chance. 

After the Chiefs allowed the punt to be downed on the one-yard line, the offense looked stagnant. Pinned near their endzone, the Chiefs quickly went three-and-out. However, after the Chiefs punted, the Bills also went three-and-out after middle linebacker Nick Bolton slammed running back Devin Singletary for a loss of two yards on third-and-two. The next drive showed the world a little bit of vintage Mahomes. 

Starting near their 10-yard line, the leader of the Chiefs diced up the best passing defense in the NFL. Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelce down the middle for 21 yards. He then found wide receiver Byron Pringle in the middle of the field for 12 yards. 

After faking an end-around run and an inside run, Mahomes ran a bootleg down to the right side and conjured up some magic. He looked down the field and saw Tyreek Hill beat his man for a potential first down. His baseball past kicked in as he threw a bullet right to Hill’s hands. The throw is reminiscent of a shortstop throwing a screamer to first base for a big-time out. Hill secured the catch for a big first down.   

Run after run, the Chiefs ended their crusade with a rainbow throw to Pringle for a remarkable touchdown. The Red Kingdom experienced its first lead of the game, 14-7. But it wouldn’t last long. 

Once Josh Allen walked onto the field, he had this look on his face. One of revenge and poise. He started with over two minutes left before halftime and carved up a solid Chiefs’ defense. Strike after strike, he found his way to the end zone with a speedball throw to Davis to tie the game 14-14.

However, any time is too much time for Patrick Mahomes, which is something the Bills would learn later on.

With 37 seconds left on the clock, Mahomes found multiple ways to drive down the field to get into field goal range. He delivered on multiple quick strikes, and a pass to Hill for 26 yards gave the team the perfect field position to attempt a field goal. Kicker Harrison Butker attempted a 50-yard field goal, but he missed. By halftime, these two juggernauts were duking it out, but they hadn’t even peaked. 

As the third quarter started, the Chiefs commenced with a simple 15-play drive that consumed almost eight minutes of the clock. However, they mustered only a field goal to place them on top, 17-14. After the Bills were forced into a three-and-out, the Chiefs capitalized on a 15-yard return by Mike Hughes. After some short gains and an immense 20-yard scamper by running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, an end-around handoff to Mecole Hardman reaped benefits. His lightning-in-a-bottle speed and his balance led to a diving touchdown. The extra point attempt was missed by Butker, however. The Chiefs took over 23-14, though the ten-point lead wouldn’t last for even five minutes. 

Once the Bills received the ball, Allen delivered an immediate bomb throw to Davis down the middle. The 75-yard touchdown exposed the Chiefs leaderless secondary and reduced Buffalo’s deficit 23-21. After this offensive explosion, both teams entered a small hiatus with each team punting. It was then that the offenses went nuclear. 

After the Bills punted, Hill zipped past defenders for a 45-yard return. The Chiefs had perfect field position to score yet another touchdown. However, a failed Blake Bell trick play led to an easy field goal to extend the score, 26-21. Right after, the Bills crafted a perfect drive. Pass after pass, Allen chipped away the Chiefs’ defense. Even when players like Chris Jones and Chavarius Ward made great plays, Allen found Davis once again for a monumental touchdown. A two-point conversion gave the Bills a 29-26 lead. With only minutes left to play, both teams were on the cusp of reaching the AFC Championship. 

The Chiefs were on the verge of elimination, but Mahomes slowly started to drive down the field with quick and easy passes. Then, a quick strike to Hill led to a race to the endzone. The speedy wideout outran a magnitude of Bills’ defenders to score a late touchdown, giving Kansas City a 33-26 lead. 

Allen and the Bills’ offense took over with a minute left. He completed three 10+ yard passes en route to an immaculate comeback. After a weak pass interference call on Ward, Allen darted the football down the field for a high-speed touchdown to Davis. The Bills led 36-33 with 13 seconds left.

An ill-advised kick through the endzone by the Bills left the Chiefs on their 25-yard line. Mahomes looked calm and collected. Suddenly, he delivered a swift strike to Hill for 19 yards. A fast and clever timeout gave the team another shot to get their kicker into field goal range. Then, Mahomes and his electric tight end Travis Kelce showed off their stunning chemistry by ad libbing a 25-yard catch-and-run. Kelce and the entire Chiefs organization called a timeout. As Butker jogged onto the field, fans all across the world trembled in fear and excitement. The Chiefs’ season was on the line, and their last hopes were in the hands of a kicker who missed a field goal and an extra point. Once the team lined up, Butker prepared for the biggest kick of his career. With three seconds left, the kick sailed slightly left but went in between the goal post. Somehow, someway, the Chiefs tied the game. It was time for overtime. 

The overtime rules haunted the Chiefs in 2018. After tying the game against the then Tom Brady-led New England Patriots, they never saw the ball again and watched Brady dissect the defense for the game-winning score. But after the Chiefs won the coin toss this time, they had a shot to redeem themselves from an unlucky past. 

Mahomes showed no mercy on the last drive. He stayed patient, finding the likes of Kelce and McKinnon for huge first downs. Then, the pass to Hardman for 26 yards gifted fans the feeling of hope. 

The Chiefs lined up in shotgun formation, with McKinnon lined up to Mahomes’ left. Kelce lined up on the outside but his quarterback motioned him to the inside. The now-legendary tight end ran a sluggo route, which helped him run past his assignment and near the right side of the endzone. Mahomes lofted the ball right into Kelce’s arm. It was game over, and the Chiefs came out victorious 42-36. 

Now, the Kansas City Chiefs will face their ultimate task against the Cincinnati Bengals. They faced each other months ago which led to a 31-34 loss. The trip to three consecutive Super Bowls is on the line this upcoming Sunday. Buckle up, Chiefs’ Kingdom. 

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