June 21, 2024

In Orchard Park, N.Y., Travis Kelce hauled in two touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes, propelling the Kansas City Chiefs to a 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills and securing their spot in the AFC Championship Game for the sixth consecutive time on Sunday night.

Isiah Pacheco’s 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter proved to be the decisive score in a game where the lead changed hands five times. The Chiefs secured the victory by running out the clock after Buffalo’s Tyler Bass missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right with 1:43 remaining.

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The defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, will now face the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens, the top seed in the conference, advanced by defeating the Houston Texans 34-10 on Saturday. Notably, the Chiefs are 0-1 in playoff matchups against the Ravens, having suffered a 30-7 loss in the 2010 wild-card round. In their most recent regular-season meeting in Week 2 of the 2021 season, the Ravens narrowly defeated the Chiefs 36-35.

Reflecting on the upcoming challenge against the Ravens, Patrick Mahomes acknowledged the formidable nature of the opponent, stating, “There’s no weakness there. It’s going to take our best effort. Defense, offense, special teams, they do it all. It’s always a great challenge, and that stadium’s going to be rocking, so we’re excited for the challenge.”

In a game marked by unexpected turnovers, Buffalo and Kansas City exchanged possession shifts. The Bills (12-7) attempted a fake punt, but Damar Hamlin was halted for a 2-yard gain on a fourth-and-five at Buffalo’s 32, resulting in a failed conversion. However, the Chiefs promptly returned the ball two plays later when Mecole Hardman fumbled into the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

The game remained in the balance until the Bills’ final drive, which stalled at the Chiefs’ 26. Josh Allen’s two incomplete passes led to Tyler Bass’ missed 44-yard field goal attempt. This followed Bass’s struggles in the previous week, where he had a field-goal attempt blocked and also missed from 27 yards in a 31-17 win over Pittsburgh.

Reflecting on the situation, Allen expressed his wish that Bass had not been put in that position, emphasizing the team’s collective responsibility for the outcome: “You win as a team, you lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a game.”

Since Patrick Mahomes assumed the starting role in 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs have remained undefeated in the divisional round. With their fifth consecutive playoff victory, the Chiefs have notched a win streak since a 27-24 overtime loss to Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game during the 2021 season.

Patrick Mahomes, a two-time NFL MVP, achieved another milestone by securing his first road win in the playoffs (excluding Super Bowls) and elevating his postseason record to an impressive 13-3.

Expressing his thoughts on playing in Buffalo, Mahomes acknowledged the challenging environment and emphasized the team’s determination to prove that they can excel in any setting: “First of all, this is a great environment, man. It really is. We did hear it all week, man, about playing a road game, and we’re here to prove a point and show that we can play anywhere.”

For the Buffalo Bills, this marks the third consecutive postseason ending in the divisional round, following losses to Cincinnati last year and the Chiefs in 2021. Notably, the Chiefs have now concluded Buffalo’s season for the third time in four years, including a 38-24 decision in Kansas City during the AFC Championship Game in the 2020 season.

The Buffalo Bills experienced another disappointing conclusion to their season despite winning their fourth consecutive AFC East title and entering the game on a six-game winning streak since their victory at Kansas City on December 10.

Patrick Mahomes had a solid performance, completing 17 of 23 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns to Travis Kelce. The duo’s 15th and 16th playoff touchdowns together set a new NFL record, surpassing Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for the most by a quarterback-receiver combination.

Travis Kelce celebrated his first touchdown, a 22-yard reception, by making a heart gesture directed at his girlfriend, pop music superstar Taylor Swift, who was watching from a suite on the opposite end of the field. Kelce’s brother, Jason Kelce, an Eagles center who recently announced his retirement, celebrated the touchdown shirtless while holding a beer.

Josh Allen of the Bills completed 26 of 39 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, adding two rushing scores. Allen’s rushing performance increased his career playoff total to 563 yards, the second-highest among NFL quarterbacks, trailing only Steve Young (594).

Buffalo managed to score on four of its first five possessions, taking a 24-20 lead with 3:23 left in the third quarter after Allen’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Shakir. The Chiefs responded by scoring on five of their first six possessions, securing the victory with Isiah Pacheco’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

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