KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In one of the most epic postseason battles in NFL history, the Kansas City Chiefs extended their reign atop the AFC at least one more week with a staggeringly improbable and thrilling 42-36 win against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional round.
The Chiefs couldn’t cover Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis, whose fourth touchdown of the game in the closing seconds seemed destined to be the game-winner.
Down three points, Mahomes took the field with 13 seconds remaining after the ensuing touchback, moving Kansas City into field-goal range with a 19-yard pass to Tyreek Hill and a 25-yard dart up the seam to Travis Kelce.
“He definitely doesn’t flinch, especially in moments like that,” Hill said. “We practice those situations. (Offensive coordinator) Eric Bieniemy, he harps each and every Friday on those situations about middle rebound passes or quick passes, calling timeout and stuff like that.”
Kicker Harrison Butker, who missed a field goal and extra point in regulation, forced overtime with a 49-yard boot — an improbable overtime after Buffalo had a 97% chance to win only three snaps earlier.
“It was a great game,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I’m just kind of sorting it all out right now.”
The game came down to a coin flip, which the Bills lost.
Eight plays later, Mahomes hit Kelce for an 8-yard touchdown and the Chiefs will host the conference title game for arecord fourth consecutive season.
“To be in this moment, in this game, against that team and to make a play to walk off a game at Arrowhead, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Mahomes said.
It capped a wild weekend of postseason football. The other three Divisional games all were settled on game-winning field goals as time expired, but the Chiefs-Bills showdown was the ultimate show-stopper.
“I could tell by the excitement of our team and the way everybody ended up on the field, that doesn’t happen very often,” Reid said.
Kansas City hosts Cincinnati in a rematch of the Bengals’ Week 17 nail-biter with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
“We’ve got tremendous leaders on both sides of the ball, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams,” said Hill, who finished with 11 catches for 150 yards and a score. “Nobody panicked. Nobody was like, ‘Oh, the game is over,’ with 13 seconds left. We just went out, made plays and the rest is history.”
When Bills quarterback Josh Allen connected with Davis on a 19-yard touchdown in the closing seconds, it appeared to be curtains for Kansas City’s season.
Tyreek Hill’s 64-yard touchdown with 1:02 remaining put the Chiefs in front in the quest to host the AFC Championship Game for a record fourth consecutive season.
“It was two-deep coverage, safeties very deep, and the corner was inside leverage,” Hill said. “That’s just Pat knowing exactly when I’m going to break, perfect timing and execution, perfect play call and the rest is history. I was able to use my speed and get into the end zone.”
But that proved to be too much time for Allen and Davis, who finished with eight catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
He also scored on passes of 18, 75 and 27 yards in a dominant performance reminiscent of Cincinnati wide receiver JaMarr Chase’s in Week 17, which ultimately cost Kansas City the top overall seed in the AFC.
The Bills, whose season ended last year against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, were ready to celebrate.
But apparently 13 seconds was too much for Mahomes, who finished 33 of 44 for 378 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win.
“The biggest thing on this team is we believe no matter what,” Mahomes said.
After missing a chance to retake the lead on the final play of the first half, Kansas City seemed to take control early in the third quarter.
The Chiefs opened the second half with a 39-yard Harrison Butker lead to take a 17-14 lead and went up by nine after the Bills eschewed going for it on fourth-and-1.
Linebacker Nick Bolton, who finished with eight tackles, stopped speedy Isaiah McKenzie for a 1-yard gain on third-and-2 and Sean McDermott elected to punt.
Kansas City took full advantage as Mecole Hardman Jr. scored on a 25-yard jet sweep, but Butker missed wide left on the extra point — his second costly miss of the game — leaving the lead at nine points.
Buffalo needed only one play to answer.
Josh Allen launched a moonshot down the middle of the field for Gabriel Davis, who ran under it and stayed in stride all the way to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
The teams traded punts before a 45-yard Tyreek Hill punt return set up Butker for a 28-yard field goal, but the Chiefs’ inability to put the ball in the end zone — combined with earlier Butker misses on a field goal and extra point — left the Bills within striking distance.
Kansas City’s defense didn’t make it easy — until the last 17-play of a 75-play touchdown drive — when Allen hit Davis again on a busted coverage for a go-ahead 27-yard touchdown.
It was fourth-and-13.
The two-point conversion from Allen to Diggs, who moments earlier had flattened a fan who ran onto the field and was quickly arrested, made it 29-26.
As expected, the Chiefs and Bills traded first-half haymakers.
Buffalo marched 75 yards on 13 plays, converting two fourth downs along the way before Devin Singletary scored untouched on a 1-yard toss sweep.
Kansas City answered with an 11-play touchdown drive. Mahomes accounted for 49 of the 74 yards with scrambles, including an 8-yard run and dive for the pylon.
The defenses found some footing from there, forcing three straight punts before the Chiefs took their first lead on a 2-yard Mahomes touchdown to Byron Pringle.
The Bills blitzed for the first time and had two free rushers zeroing in on Mahomes off a naked bootleg, but he managed to work around the traffic for the go-ahead touchdown.
Allen needed only 75 seconds to re-tie the game with a 75-yard drive capped by an 18-yard touchdown to Gabriel Davis after several Kansas City defensive backs collided and left him uncovered.
Mahomes led the Chiefs into field goal range in the final 37 seconds, but Butker’s 50-yard try as time expired in the second quarter hit the right upright.