AFC Championship Game Recap: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs

AFC Championship Game Recap: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs

by January 25, 2021 0 comments

Looking to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994, the Buffalo Bills traveled to Kansas City to battle the reigning world champion Chiefs in the AFC title game. Getting off to a hot start, the Bills took a quick 9-0 lead after a muffed punt by speedster Mecole Hardman set Josh Allen and company up with first and goal at their opponent’s three-yard line. However, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense would come alive in the second quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points on touchdown receptions by Hardman and running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams. Backed by a bend don’t break defense and spectacular performance from their all-world quarterback down the stretch, Andy Reid‘s group dumped their opponent en route to a 38-24 victory and a second straight appearance in the league’s title game.

Why the Buffalo Bills Lost

Starting off hot on the offensive side of the ball thanks to the blunder by the Chiefs special team’s unit, a three-yard touchdown pass from Allen to tight end Dawson Knox gave the Bills a 9-0 lead early on in the opening quarter. Unable to muster up and match the performance of Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs passing attack, Buffalo’s offense punted three times down the stretch while settling for four field goals. Hindered by an aggressive gameplan with timely blitzes called by Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the group struggled to protect their young quarterback, surrendering four sacks. Along with this, the team’s wide receiving core struggled to create separation from their opponent’s secondary, with veteran Cole Beasley leading the way with seven receptions for 88 yards.

Providing little to no answer to slowing down a Chiefs offense that clicked all game long, the Bills struggled to contain star tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Having his way with the middle of Leslie Frazier‘s defense, Kelce hauled in 13 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Along with this, Hill displayed game-breaking speed that makes him one of the toughest players to match up within the NFL, leading to nine catches for 172 yards, including a long of 71 yards. Routinely incapable of generating a consistent pass rush on the star Chiefs quarterback throughout this one, the Bills could only muster up one sack and three quarterback hurries, with multiple free rushers unable to get Mahomes on the ground.

Why the Kansas City Chiefs Won

After weeks of speculation about their inability to find success in the red zone and blow out their opponents, the Chief’s high octane offense was on full display on Sunday Night. Evaporating Buffalo’s quick two-score lead with three consecutive scoring drives, a one-yard touchdown plunge by Edwards-Helaire gave his team a commanding nine-point lead at 21-12 heading into the half time break. Starting the final 30 minutes with a field goal, followed by two touchdowns, Kansas City put the game to rest after an interception by veteran cornerback Rashad Fenton set up the team’s fifth touchdown of the day and a 23 point advantage. Led by a flawless performance from the reigning Super Bowl MVP, the group played smart football all game long by failing to turn the football over on offense, setting up a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

Stiffening up in the red zone after entering the playoffs as one of the worst units in the league when faced with a goal to go, the Chiefs defense held Buffalo to multiple field goals. Mixing up their looks up front all game long, the team was able to generate pressure on Allen, leading the MVP candidate to look erratic for much of the first half. In addition to this, the group also held star wideout Stefon Diggs, to just six receptions for 77 yards. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens led the way up front with seven tackles along with a quarterback takedown, while safety Juan Thornhill was able to make plays all over the field in one of the best games of his young career.



What’s Next 

Headed back to the Super Bowl for the second season in a row, the Chiefs will square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second time this season after narrowly defeating Tom Brady and company 27-24 earlier on in 2020. With intrigue at an all-time high after the conference championship games in both conferences, Brady and Mahomes will square off for the fifth time, with the series tied at two games apiece. Meanwhile, the Bills will begin their 2021 offseason after capturing their first two playoff wins in over 20 seasons. With much to look forward to after capturing the AFC East behind the development of Allen, general manager Brandon Beane will be faced with many key decisions. Linebacker Matt Milano, guard Jon Feliciano, and tackle Daryl Williams are all set to become unrestricted free agents.

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