Unbelievable! Super bowl Rookie season! No better organization— Thakarius Keyes (@TzKeyes) January 25, 2021
The Kansas City Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills led first in Sunday night's AFC Championship Game, going up 9-0 in the first quarter thanks to some costly home-team miscues -- a Tyreek Hill deep-ball drop, a muffed Mecole Hardman punt return. From that point forward, however, the reigning champions owned the evening, with Buffalo resigning itself to field goals and the Chiefs finally coming alive with their own play-makers. By the end, Hill, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce had all dominated the box score, and Andy Reid had punched his second trip to the Super Bowl in as many years, thanks to a 38-24 rout at Arrowhead.
Next on the docket: A rematch with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7, when the next Lombardi Trophy will be issued.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Sunday night's AFC title showdown:
Why the Chiefs won
Remember the weapons they used to win it all a year ago? They were on full display Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes. Tyreek Hill. Travis Kelce. The whole gang came to life after a slow start, and once it did, the Bills had basically no answer for the explosiveness. Kelce was darn near unguardable over the middle, Hill reminded the rest of the NFL that he could be an Olympic sprinter, and Mahomes just thrived playing point guard to help seal the deal. Kansas City's defense, particularly up front, deserves plenty of credit, too, for getting in Josh Allen's face, executing blitzes all night, and holding star wideout Stefon Diggs to a near-non-existent role in the early stages of the showdown.
Why the Bills lost
On a night where they either needed the Chiefs to completely implode or a perfectly executed offensive attack from Brian Daboll, they got neither. Buffalo capitalized on K.C.'s early hiccups, but Josh Allen was erratic for much of the first half -- and the Bills had absolutely zero ground game aside from his legs. The defense, meanwhile? Not even Tre'Davious White and Jordan Poyer and Tremaine Edmunds could save them from getting gashed by Kelce and Hill downfield. Allen picked things up in the second half and battled until the end, but with pressure in his face, he too often backed up and lost the Bills precious yards rather than unleashing his trademark big-play magic. It didn't help that Sean McDermott was content to settle for field goals multiple times, either.
You might say it was the Bills deciding to kick a field goal when they already trailed by 12 late in the third quarter. That just allowed the Chiefs to blow the game open with a touchdown to go up 31-15 on its ensuing series. But the real turning point felt like it occurred when Allen had a nice drive erased by a bobbled John Brown pass that ended up in the arms of Rashad Fenton for a huge interception. That one came at the Chiefs' 20-yard line, wiped out a potential Bills score and put momentum firmly in Kansas City's favor.
Play of the game
Rashad Fenton didn't have to do much but wait for the ball to arrive in his arms on the big fourth-quarter pick, but it was still a monumental play, complete with a nice return to push Kansas City in position for another scoring drive:
The Chiefs are headed back to the Super Bowl! They'll get a week of rest and/or preparation ahead of Feb. 7's championship against the Buccaneers. The Bills, meanwhile, will begin their 2021 offseason with reason to look forward to the future, thanks to some strong steps forward from Josh Allen and the AFC East's new reigning champions.