By Terrance Turner
Jan. 24, 2021
The AFC Championship Game today featured the red-hot Buffalo Bills versus the league’s best team: the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s the third straight championship game that the Chiefs have reached. If they are successful, quarterback Patrick Mahomes will become the first quarterback to reach two Super Bowls before age 26.
They were. Despite a late rally by the Bills and a violent outbreak at the end of the game, the Kansas City Chiefs triumphed. A high-scoring second half, powered by a monstrous offensive performance, sealed their victory. Their win takes them to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
It was a wildly entertaining first half. The Buffalo Bills had field goal to start. Then punt returner Mecole Hardman, normally so sure-handed, fumbled the ball. Hardman caught the punted ball and somehow it fell out of his hands. The Bills recovered the ball near the one-yard line. They scored almost immediately. The extra-point kick was no good, but the Bills took a 9-0 lead.
The Chiefs rebounded quickly with a scoring drive. They had four first downs to start. (Three of them were by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who recently was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year). Kelce made one of the game’s early highlights with a 16-yard play. Kansas City went 66 yards in 10 plays. And wide receiver Tyreek Hill added eight more as the first quarter came to a close.
Kansas City took off as the second quarter began. Hardman redeemed himself by running in for the touchdown. His TD run made it 9-7. The Bills added no points on their drive, but the Chiefs did. A crucial catch by Kelce took the Chiefs to 1st and goal. Then running back Darrel Williams ran down the middle, extending the ball across the goal line for the score. The Chiefs went up 14-9.
Their quarterback shined on the ensuing drive. Mahomes, in trouble, heaved the ball just as he was being spun around for a tackle. Somehow, he located Kelce for 11 yards. On the next play, he improvised again, throwing to Hill for 33 yards. Kelce got the ball next and dove for the end zone, landing at the one-yard line. That set up a touchdown run for RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Kansas City came back from a nine-point deficit to take a 21-9 lead.
The Bills reached the end zone on their drive. 1st and goal quickly became 3rd and goal. Quarterback Josh Allen was chased by the Chiefs defense and threw the ball away. On 4th and goal, Buffalo elected to go for a field goal. That kick was good. The score was 21-12 at the half.
In the second half, both offenses converted their drives into points. The Chiefs and Bills traded field goals early in the third quarter. Then the Kansas City offense exploded. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill took off for 71 yards (!!!). He got to the 4-yard line.
A holding call on Bills defender White resulted in 1st and goal. Mahomes cashed in with an underhand pass to Kelce for the touchdown. Harrison Butker nailed the extra-point kick to make it 31-15. With their backs against the wall, the Bills tried to narrow the growing lead. But Allen got picked off by Rashad Fenton.
With the lead and the ball, Kansas City got to work. Williams dashed into the end zone. Kansas City 1st and goal AGAIN. After an incompletion, a pass to Tyreek Hill went just outside his hands. For a minute, it looked like the Chiefs might have to settle for a field goal. But then Mahomes tossed the ball to Kelce, who caught it and practically walked into the end zone. That touchdown made it a three-score game. 38-15.
Things got very ugly as the fourth quarter wound down. The Bills finally managed to score, making it 38-21. They went for a two-point conversion that was no good. They did recover an onside kick — the first one in a championship game since 2014. But Allen was sacked on 3rd down. Chiefs’ Alex Okafor was involved on the tackle. Allen threw the ball at Okafor’s head in frustration.
Bills guard Jon Feliciano shoved Okafor, and then Bills tackle Dion Dawkins shoved Okafor as he was going down. Players had to be separated, and the refs had a lengthy conference to determine penalties. In the end, Feliciano, Dawkins, and Allen were all penalized; only one Chief was flagged. Yet somehow — in yet another display of laughable NFL officiating — all those penalties offset. The Bills were allowed to try a field goal, which they successfully did.
The score was 38-24 at that point, and that’s where it stayed. The Kansas City Chiefs won, qualifying for their second consecutive Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes is now the first NFL quarterback to start in two Super Bowls before age 26, according to CBS Sports. Travis Kelce (who had two touchdowns) broke the record for most receptions (13) in a Conference Championship game.
The Chiefs are headed to their second straight Super Bowl. They will play Tampa Bay in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 7.