The Buffalo Bills won an instant classic over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening, with a 24-20 victory that was only barely decided in the final minute of the game. The two teams went back-and-forth all afternoon long, trading jabs and haymakers, but this time it was quarterback Josh Allen’s team coming away with the victory. The game felt eerily similar to last season’s playoff loss, so it was cathartic to all of Bills Mafia to see the team win this time.
The Bills began the game with flair, moving 60 yards on eight plays with a mixture of run and pass. Down to the Kansas City 13-yard line, though, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie bobbled a backwards option pass from Allen, and the ball rolled right into the arms of a Chiefs defender for a turnover.
Kansas City answered in an identical fashion, marching 80 yards on a 14-play drive that took them from their 11-yard line to the vicinity of the goal line. But quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tried to throw a jump ball into the end zone, was picked off by rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam when he won the contested catch.
It was nearly 12 minutes into the game and neither a punt nor a score had happened yet. Buffalo’s next drive started well enough, with a 31-yard catch by wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and it looked like the Bills were about to enter the red zone when running back Devin Singletary rushed for 12 yards. But a late holding call pushed them backwards, and Buffalo stalled out at the Chiefs’ 25-yard line. They did kick a field goal to take the lead, 3-0.
Kansas City responded with a touchdown drive. Mahomes was able to find tight end Travis Kelce for a 25-yard gain to put his team in Bills territory, and a few plays later, Buffalo’s defense flushed Mahomes from the pocket, but he was able to buy enough time to throw across his body and find wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who broke a tackle and ran the rest of the way into the end zone.
Buffalo took possession and mounted another long drive, beginning at their 25-yard line and mixing hard running and short passing until they were three yards away from the end zone. Allen’s next three passes were incomplete, and the real killer was on fourth down, when he would’ve hit McKenzie but for the receiver tripping over his own feet and failing to put himself into position for the catch.
The Chiefs were unable to break out from the vicinity of their own end zone and punted a few plays later. But Buffalo’s next drive resulted in a three-and-out of their own—and they punted right back to Kansas City with only a few minutes left in the half.
The Chiefs made a bit of forward progress on a drive that featured four penalties, two by both teams. But the final penalty, a taunting penalty assessed against Smith-Schuster, pushed them out of field goal range, and edge rusher Von Miller’s sack removed that chance altogether. They punted back to the Bills with less than two minutes remaining, and it was a well-placed ball that started them on their five-yard line.
The drive could hardly have started worse: a false start, a dropped pass by McKenzie, and a run for a loss. With the ball at the one-yard line, facing a 3rd & 13, Allen flipped his Superman switch. The next five plays—all passes—were all completed, for 99 yards and a touchdown. The Bills had a 10-7 lead, with 16 seconds left in the half.
Sound a bit familiar? That was just enough time for Mahomes, who completed two quick passes to gain 28 yards and put Kansas City in position for a 62-yard field goal that tied the game as the clock expired, 10-10.
The Chiefs weren’t so lucky on their first drive out of halftime. Although they advanced 51 yards, aided by Mahomes finding rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore for 24 yards on 3rd & 9, their drive stalled out well shy of the red zone, and Butker’s second kick sailed wide left.
Allen stayed hot on the next drive, hitting tight end Dawson Knox for a 20-yard gain, then Singletary for five, then Diggs for 13. After a five-yard run from Singletary, Allen found Diggs in the end zone to take the lead.
Motivated by his rival’s performance, Mahomes came right back with a touchdown drive of his own—one which lasted seven plays and went 83 yards. On the decisive play, Elam did his best to maintain tight coverage on wide receiver Mecole Hardman, but it wasn’t enough to stop Mahomes from threading the needle for the TD.
Buffalo had a chance to take the lead once again, moving their drive into KC territory, but when they faced a 3rd & 1, they ran right into the teeth of the defense. Literally. Singletary was tackled in the backfield by a free blitzer for a two-yard loss. The Bills tried for a fourth-down conversion—their second attempt of the night—and they failed for the second time.
So now it was Kansas City’s turn to take the lead. Although an offensive pass interference penalty negated a huge gain by Kelce, the tight end was still able to take himself over 100 receiving yards during the drive. Buffalo’s defense was able to hold firm, sacking Mahomes and somehow corralling him as he ran around like a squirrel on the next play, and the Chiefs had to settle for a field goal for the 20-17 lead.
Both defenses flexed on the next two drives, forcing the Bills to punt after gaining a net of zero yards, and the Chiefs after a net gain of -1. There were five and a half minutes left in the game, and if the Bills didn’t score, the loss was all but guaranteed.
So leave it to Allen the Alien to lead his team into the stratosphere with that next possession. The team put an emphasis on their ground game, which had worked well most of the game, but they finally incorporated Allen into the mix and he dazzled. He converted a do-or-die fourth-down QB sneak. He ran around the end and hurdled a Chiefs defender for a first down. And he made time in the pocket to find Knox for a touchdown with one minute left.
And then Von Miller, the closer, helped the Bills close out the win. He beautifully came through with a pressure on Mahomes, who forced a pass to Moore. Cornerback Taron Johnson was lurking in zone coverage and leaped in front of the ball for the interception. With only 51 seconds left and two timeouts, that gave the Bills just the right combo of clock to secure the win.
The Bills are in the driver’s seat of the AFC at 5-1, and now they head into a bye week to rest and recover before beginning the lion’s share of the season. What a win!
- Spencer Brown injured his ankle in the second quarter, as the Bills were trying to finish their drive at the edge of the goalline. The team initially called him questionable to return, then ruled him out at halftime. David Quessenberry replaced him in the lineup.
- Dane Jackson took himself out of the game with a stinger late in the third quarter. Keep in mind that Jackson suffered a neck injury only a few weeks ago, one that sent him to the hospital. The Bills had been rotating Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford at the other cornerback spot before then, and the two rookies slotted into the two slots in the lineup.
- Christian Benford had to come out of the game early in the fourth quarter, with Cam Lewis replacing him in the lineup. Luckily, Benford was cleared to come back into the game a few minutes later.
- It was déjà vu all over again at halftime. Facing nearly insurmountable odds, Allen drove his team 99 yards in under a minute to take the lead on a deep touchdown pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis. But he left 16 seconds on the clock. Despite Buffalo’s best efforts, the Chiefs were able to gain enough real estate in the remaining time to tie the game on a long field goal kick.
- Not without the Bills trying something different, though—they used a squib kick, which managed to take four seconds off the clock.
- A week ago, Kansas City’s backup kicker managed to set a franchise record for longest field goal. That record lasted exactly one week—Harrison Butker’s halftime kick was good from 62 yards
- At halftime, the two QBs had practically identical stats. Josh Allen was 13-of-23 with 180 yards passing and a TD, plus 21 yards rushing to give him 201 total yards. He was also charged with a fumble when McKenzie dropped the ball at the start of the game. Patrick Mahomes was 13-of-23 for 199 yards, adding six rushing yards and losing 14 on two sacks. Mahomes had 1 TD and 1 INT.
- It was yet another monster game from Allen, the NFL’s passing leader. He was 27-of-40 (67.5%) for 329 yards (8.2 YPA) with three TDs and no INTs. He added 12 carries for 32 yards, obviously subtracting a few from his kneeling at the end of the game. He stepped up when the team needed him most.
- Speaking of stars stepping up, it was a great night for Diggs (10 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD). Davis didn’t go nuclear this time, but he did have three catches for 74 yards and a TD.
- He eventually ran into some adversity, but Singletary had a great game and was consistently providing chunk yardage. He touched the ball 21 times for 107 yards, but he still doesn’t have a TD yet.
- What more can you say about Von Miller that hasn’t already been said? His two sacks tonight saved the Bills at least three points, and probably the entire game.
- With two minutes and 44 seconds left in the third quarter, the Chiefs did what no other team had been able to do to the Bills this season: Score points in quarter number three. It was a touchdown pass from Mahomes to Hardman.
- Linebacker Matt Milano sure seemed like he was all over the field in this game, didn’t he? Would you be surprised to know he only had three tackles? One was for a loss, and he also disrupted two passes. But he sure made an impact, even if it wasn’t on the stat sheet.
- Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was also flying around, hitting hard and leading the team in tackles.
- Shoutout to Tony Romo who, in the first quarter of the game, said he expected a “24-20 kind of game.” Know the winning lotto numbers, Tony?
The Bills have a bye week to rest and recuperate after playing the toughest game on their schedule. They’ll be back in two weeks to face the Green Bay Packers.