Chiefs-Bills score, takeaways: Patrick Mahomes, K.C. in AFC title game after Buffalo FG try sails wide right

For the sixth straight season, the Kansas City Chiefs are heading to the AFC championship game. Patrick Mahomes and company escaped Highmark Stadium with a 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night. This was the third time that K.C. was able to take down the Josh Allen-led Bills in the postseason, and this was yet another heartbreaker for Buffalo.

For a minute, it appeared as if the Bills were going to be able to either punch in the go-ahead score or force overtime after they got to the Chiefs' 26-yard line with less than two minutes to play in regulation and down just a field goal. After being unable to squeak into the red zone, Buffalo was forced to settle for a field goal attempt. That's when Tyler Bass' 44-yard attempt was wide right, which effectively ended any comeback hope for the Bills. 

Overall, it was a back-and-forth effort between these two AFC heavyweights as they traded blows throughout the contest, particularly around halftime. However, Kansas City's defense was able to hold firm down the stretch, forcing a turnover on downs, a three-and-out, and then holding the Bills to a (missed) field goal over their final three drives. 

Patrick Mahomes completed 17 of his 23 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Travis Kelce was on the receiving end of both of his touchdowns while catching five of his six targets for 75 yards. Allen finished his night 26 of 39 for 186 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 72 yards and two scores. 

Why the Chiefs won

The Patrick Mahomes-led offense hummed for most of this game. The unit only punted once, which came midway through the fourth quarter. Kansas City scored on five of its first six drives, including back-to-back touchdown drives to begin the second half. The Chiefs primarily had success with chunk plays, totaling eight that went for 20 or more yards, which was a season-high. Mahomes threw a 22-yard touchdown to Travis Kelce in the first half to take their first lead of the game, and then opened the second half with a 30-yard throw to Marquez Valdes-Scantling along with a  24-yard scramble to set up another touchdown to Kelce. Defensively, it wasn't the strongest night for Kansas City, but the unit buckled down when it needed to down the stretch, forcing a key three-and-out after Mecole Hardman fumbled into the end zone, resulting in a touchback. 

Of course, Tyler Bass missing a field goal went a long way in the Chiefs keeping their season alive, but it was a solid effort by the defense to force Buffalo into a field goal after it was sitting just outside the red zone in the closing minutes.

Why the Bills lost

Buffalo found itself out in front at the half but started to slow down offensively as the game went along and couldn't take full advantage of key opportunities given to it by the Chiefs. After a failed fake punt, it looked like Kansas City would leave the Bills in the dust, but the unit was given a major gift after Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman fumbled into the end zone for a touchback. Not only did that erase a scoring opportunity for the Chiefs at the start of the fourth, but it also gave Buffalo the ball back unscathed and still trailing by just a field goal. What did they do with new life? A three-and-out  that lasted less than 90 seconds and traveled -2 yards. 

Later on in the fourth quarter on their final possession of the game, Allen fumbled the football and nearly gave the ball to the Chiefs had it not been for Dalton Kincaid pushing the ball away from a Kansas City defender, which allowed Spencer Brown to recover the loose ball and maintain possession. Despite escaping that situation, Buffalo couldn't make it count with Bass missing the game-tying field goal (more on that below). 

Beyond the missed opportunities, Buffalo's defense allowed several chunk plays by the Chiefs offense, surrendering a 7.7 yards per play average for the game. It was also a remarkably quiet night for Stefon Diggs, who was limited to just 21 yards on three catches. 

Turning point

Simply heartbreaking for Buffalo. It had the football at the Kansas City 26-yard line and appeared to be in control, either being able to force overtime with a field goal or kill the clock while pushing forward toward the end zone to win the game outright. However, back-to-back incompletions by Allen set up a fourth-and-9 from the 26-yard line and sent Bass onto the field to attempt a 44-yarder that would've knotted the game at 27. Instead, his kick went wide right, gave the ball back to Kansas City, and eliminated any chance of a comeback. 

Play of the game

Allen's third-quarter touchdown throw to wideout Khalil Shakir was the most impressive throw of the night. After a penalty pushed the offense back to the 13-yard line, the Bills quarterback extended the play by flushing out to his left and made an off-platform throw, which was a laser to Shakir, who hauled it in at the front corner of the end zone. Shakir was able to beat L'Jarius Snead -- marking the first time the Chiefs corner had allowed a touchdown all season. That touchdown also gave Buffalo back the lead before ultimately handing it back to Kansas City on the ensuing possession. 

What's next

From here, the Chiefs will gear up for the AFC title game, which will kick off next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET from M&T Bank Stadium against the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens. 

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And that will do it -- Chiefs will win this game 27-24. One heck of a victory on the road in front of a raucous crowd in Orchard Park. 

 
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Not even close from Tyler Bass. My word. 

 
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Shakir was open on that play. Pressure in Allen's face didn't allow him to step into that throw. 

 
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Josh Allen bobbled that snap. Still got it out in a flash. First snag of the game for Trent Sherfield. 

 
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The plan of attack has been quick game, quick game, quick game for the Bills aerial attack tonight.

 
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Creative motion there by Joe Brady to convert that enormous fourth down.

 
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If that pass wasn't tipped... it's probably a pick six for L'Jarius Sneed

 
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Dawson Knox down, as is L'Jarius Sneed.... Knox back up quickly. Looks like maybe Sneed just lost his shoe (or something), wasn't injured. 

 
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The ball was a hair underthrown, but that's a catch Stefon Diggs has to make. 

 
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Stefon Diggs has been quiet after some schemed-up stuff early in the game. 

 
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Right as the Chiefs ran that third-down play, Bills WR Khalil Shakir jogged back onto the sideline. 

 
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Probably the right call. Just weird it was tremendously late. 

 
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One of the latest flags you will ever see. Both teams were going toward their sidelines after the incompletion. 

 
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Bills WR Khalil Shakir (shoulder) is questionable to return.

 
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Shank by Sam Martin, who before his hamstring injury had been awesome for the Bills down the stretch. 

 
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Trent Sherfield should've had the catch, dropped it. Huge incompletion. 

 
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I know you don't necessarily have to run well for play-action to work but after rushing for over 150 on the ground in the first half, it feels like the Bills could/should be leaning on it.

 
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Shakir going to the locker room under his own power. Favoring his right arm. Not his head. 

 
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Seems like the Chiefs are ready and waiting for the run 

 
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Jordan Poyer forced fumble there

 
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Fake punt. Stopped. Chiefs fumble out of the end zone for a touchback. Par for the course developments for this rivalry. My word. 

 
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Loooonnnng review hints at how close this is

 
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Incredibly close there. Really don't know which way the refs will go here. Of course a massive review. 

 
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Pacheco ran off the field with a limp before that last play

 
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The Chiefs OL is dominating up front. 

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