The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills competed in one of those classic contests you just didn’t want to see end. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen were both brilliant for their respective teams as they orchestrated a quarterback duel that will not soon be forgotten.
It was the crown jewel of the NFL’s Divisional Round weekend, and it highlighted the very best league has to offer: two quarterbacks and two teams at the heights of their powers.
The only problem with the game is that it had to end — that and the fact the ending left many wanting more.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Chiefs outdueled Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills
Sunday night’s game will go down as one of the greatest quarterback battles in NFL history. Both Mahomes and Allen were special, and while the last two minutes of regulation will always be remembered because of the back-and-forth and the 25 total points scored in so little time, both quarterbacks were on their A-game from the very first whistle.
Buffalo’s defense tried to contain Mahomes and the Chiefs downfield right out of the gate. The Bills didn’t blitz much and utilized zone coverage for most of the game to take away the downfield zones and eradicate the threat of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. No matter how the Bills played things, it didn’t matter to Mahomes, who reached into his toolbox and scrambled all over his opponent for 69 yards and a touchdown, averaging a healthy 9.9 yards per scramble.
Eventually, the threat of Mahomes breaking free with his legs, plus some tough running from Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon, created room for the Chiefs to operate downfield, and that’s when Andy Reid’s offense really took off.
Kansas City put up an incredible 552 total yards of offense, and both Hill and Kelce broke out to make game-changing plays.
Hill caught 11 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. That included a 64-yard catch and run for a score with 1:02 left in the game, as well as a 19-yard catch with eight seconds to go that helped Kansas City get into field-goal range.
Speaking of that incredible last-second field-goal drive to send the game into overtime, it was Kelce who hauled in the 25-yard pass to set up Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal. Kelce also secured the game-winning touchdown catch in overtime.
Mahomes went 33-of-44 passing for 378 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with a QBR of 96 and accounted for 447 of Kansas City’s 552 yards.
Allen played up to the moment and was impressive even in the loss
The only complaint you’ll see coming out of this contest, outside of the heartbreak in Buffalo, is the fact that the NFL’s antiquated overtime rules robbed fans of the opportunity to see if Allen and the Bills could respond to the Chiefs’ touchdown drive in overtime.
To that point in the game, Allen had risen to another level. In fact, he basically won the game twice for Buffalo, and if anybody other than Mahomes was on the other sideline, the Bills would be playing in the AFC Championship.
Three of Allen’s four touchdown passes came in the second half, and two happened after the final two-minute warning. The most impressive of the throws was what could and should have been the dagger for Buffalo.
Responding to Hill’s incredible touchdown catch-and-run, Allen led the Bills on a six-play, 75-yard drive that started with just over one minute to go in the game. He found Gabriel Davis (who caught all four touchdown passes) for a 19-yard strike with 13 seconds to go for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown.
Somehow and someway, all Mahomes needed was that 13 seconds to tie the game and send it into overtime, which is a testament to his greatness. Still, Allen deserves credit for doing everything he could to win the game for Buffalo. In the biggest moments of the game, with the NFL universe watching, Allen stepped up and put his team on his back.
He finished the evening completing 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns with a QBR of 90.3. He also rushed 11 times for 68 yards, showing off his unique skill set as a powerful dual-threat quarterback.
Allen was humble about the NFL’s antiquated overtime rules
The only mistake Allen made on Sunday evening was calling tails instead of heads during the overtime coin flip. That gave Mahomes and the Chiefs the football, and all Allen could do from there on out was sit on his bench and watch it all unfold, wide-eyed as if he had just seen a ghost.
The loss was undoubtedly both shocking and heartbreaking for Allen. He not only watched Mahomes basically one-up his transcendent performance, but the NFL’s frustrating “sudden death” overtime rules also prohibited him from receiving another chance to strike back.
Even in the playoffs, the team that has the first possession can win the game walk-off style with a touchdown, and that’s what the Chiefs did. Allen didn’t even get a chance to touch the football in overtime.
Sure, that’s the just way the cookie crumbles in the NFL until and if the rule is ever changed, but one can’t help but imagine how an already incredible and classic game would have become even better if Allen and the Bills had a chance to respond.
NFL purists might argue that a back-and-forth overtime affair would feel too similar to college football, but is that a bad thing? Who doesn’t like college football overtime? It’s one of the more exciting phenomenons in sports, and the NFL could greatly benefit from a bit more uncertainty in its overtime product.
Alas, that’s not the way it works, at least for now. While that may leave many wanting more and could even make the ending of a classic game feel hollow, you won’t hear Allen complaining about it.
“The rules are what they are, and I can’t complain about that ’cause if it was the other way around, we’d be celebrating, too,” he said after the game, according to NFL.com. “So, it is what it is at this point. We didn’t make enough plays tonight.”
Allen is only half right in his sentiment. He did make enough plays for the Bills. He had an incredible, memorable performance.
Mahomes just made a few more.