One win stands in the way of back-to-back championships for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City clinched a spot in the Super Bowl with a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill led the way for the defending champions, who will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and attempt to be the first back-to-back Lombardi Trophy winners since the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005.
Ironically, it will be the same Tom Brady who did that standing on the other sideline in the Super Bowl.
As for Buffalo, it failed to make its first Super Bowl since the 1993 season and could not keep pace throughout the game despite a quick start.
Notable Player Stats
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC: 29-of-38 for 325 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
- Travis Kelce, TE, KC: 13 catches for 118 yards, 2 TDs
- Tyreek Hill, WR, KC: 9 catches for 172 yards
- Josh Allen, QB, BUF: 28-of-48 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 7 carries for 88 yards
Chiefs' Unstoppable Offense Overcomes Early Mistakes, Cruises to Super Bowl
Sometimes it seems as if Kansas City will be unstoppable for the next decade with Mahomes under center.
The start of Sunday's game was not one of those times.
Hill dropped a deep ball that likely would have set up a score on the Chiefs' opening possession, and Mecole Hardman muffed a punt that led to a one-play, three-yard touchdown drive for the Bills. Just like that, it was 9-0 Buffalo with Kansas City seemingly tripping over itself with uncharacteristic mistakes.
In reality, all those mistakes just delayed the inevitable.
Kansas City scored three touchdowns in the second quarter alone to seize control of the game with Hardman making up for his mistake with a touchdown catch and a 50-yard run that set up a score for Darrel Williams. Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored the third touchdown in a stark reminder to Buffalo just how explosive this offense can be when it's not making mistakes.
The Chiefs are simply impossible to stop when the secondary playmakers are contributing like that because Kelce and Hill, who both went over 100 yards, are almost always going to get their numbers, as well.
The pair put on a clinic in the third quarter with Hill taking a short pass and darting his way through multiple tackles and leaving defenders in his wake for 71 yards before Kelce capped off the touchdown drive with a score on a shovel pass. Throw in Kelce's second touchdown catch for good measure and there was little drama down the stretch.
Tampa Bay's defense better be ready.
Missed Opportunities in Scoring Position Doom Bills
Josh Allen was an MVP candidate this season, but Sunday was his chance to enter rarified air by taking down the current best quarterback in the league and setting up a date with arguably the best one in NFL history.
Alas, he struggled in the early going as Buffalo fell behind by two scores going into halftime. Buffalo punted three times in the first half, settled for a field goal inside Kansas City's 5-yard line and escaped key turnovers when defenders dropped interceptions on two of Allen's passes.
The visitors' only touchdown until Isaiah McKenzie scored in garbage time came when they started on the Chiefs' 3-yard line following Hardman's muffed punt.
Halftime changed nothing as Buffalo settled for another field goal inside Kansas City's 10-yard line on its first possession of the third quarter and then seemingly lost all hope when Allen threw a red-zone interception in the fourth quarter to Rashad Fenton.
Frankly, the Bills should have gone for some of their fourth downs—especially on the short field goals—considering they were going up against an absolute juggernaut in Mahomes. Kansas City also made life more difficult on Allen by shadowing Stefon Diggs everywhere he went, and the star wide receiver struggled to create the separation he did earlier in the playoffs and throughout the regular season.
The infrastructure is in place for Buffalo with Allen leading a talented offense, but there is no chance to beat the Chiefs with failed red-zone trips and field goals instead of touchdowns.
The Chiefs will go for the Lombardi Trophy in a showdown with Brady and the Buccaneers on Feb. 7.