Kelce scores twice and Chiefs beat Bills 27-24 to advance to face Ravens in AFC championship

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter of an NFL AFC division playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – No matter the setting — Arrowhead Stadium or Orchard Park — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs keep finding ways to beat Josh Allen and Buffalo Bills in the playoffs.

Mahomes threw two touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs advanced to their sixth straight AFC championship game with a 27-24 win over the Bills on Sunday night.

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The Chiefs move on to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the conference’s top-seeded Ravens, who beat Houston 34-10 on Saturday.

Kansas City is 0-1 in the playoffs against the Ravens, following a 30-7 loss in the 2010 wild-card round. Baltimore defeated Kansas City 36-35 in their most recent regular-season matchup in Week 2 of the 2021 season.

“There’s no weakness there,” Mahomes said of the Ravens. “It’s going to take our best effort. Defense, offense, special teams, they do it all. It’s always a great challenge and that stadium’s going to be rocking, so we’re excited for the challenge.”

Mahomes passed his first test by winning his first true road playoff game — not including Super Bowl neutral sites — and improving his postseason record to 13-3.

“First of all, this is a great environment, man,” Mahomes said of Buffalo. “It really is. We did hear it all week, man, about playing a road game, and we’re here to prove a point and show that we can play anywhere.”

The Chiefs are accustomed to ending the Bills' season, having done it now in three of the past four playoffs, with the first two wins coming at home in the 2020 AFC championship game and the 2021 divisional round.

“All-time classic again. Any time we play Sean’s teams, it comes right down to the end,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, referring to Bills coach Sean McDermott.

The Chiefs scored on five of their first six possessions, not including a kneeldown at halftime, and went ahead for good on Isiah Pacheco's 4-yard touchdown run 40 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Neither team led by more than seven points and they traded leads five times. The outcome was decided when Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass missed a potential game-tying field goal wide right from 44 yards, allowing the Chiefs to run out the remaining 1:47.

“Ultimately, completely on me,” said Bass, who had a field goal blocked and missed from 27 yards in a playoff-opening 31-17 win over Pittsburgh last week. “I feel terrible. I love this team, man. It hurts. This one hurts bad.”

Allen blamed himself for having Buffalo’s final drive stall at the Chiefs 26 following two incompletions — the last a throwaway after he was flushed out of the pocket.

“I wish he wouldn’t have been put in that situation. You win as a team you lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a game, doesn’t define a season,” Allen said. “Losing sucks. Losing to them, losing to anybody.”

The Bills keep finding different ways to lose to the Chiefs. After being blown out 38-24 at Kansas City in the 2020 season AFC championship game, Buffalo came up short in a 42-36 overtime loss in the divisional round a year later.

The game has since been dubbed “13 Seconds” because that’s how much time was left for Mahomes to march the Chiefs 44 yards on two plays to set up Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal. Mahomes then clinched the win with a 9-yard touchdown pass to — who else? — Kelce.

The tight end didn’t stick around to address reporters after this win, as he was perhaps busy rushing out to visit with girlfriend, pop music superstar Taylor Swift, and his brother Jason, who celebrated watching his two-TD outing from a suite.

Travis Kelce celebrated his first touchdown catch — a 22-yarder — by making a heart gesture with his hands and directed toward Swift’s suite at the opposite end of the field. And Jason Kelce celebrated the touchdown shirtless while holding a can of beer.

Mahomes was 17 of 23 for 215 yards, and the two TD passes to Kelce were the 15th and 16th times they’ve combined for scores in the playoffs. They have one more than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for the NFL record for most playoff TDs for a quarterback-receiver combination.

“It speaks to Travis and his work, to be able to go out there and make plays in big games,” Mahomes said. “Passing anything that has Brady and Gronk in it is special. Because those are two of the greatest players.”

Allen went 26 of 39 for 186 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for two scores. His team-leading 72 yards rushing increased his career playoff total to 563, the second most among NFL quarterbacks in league history and trailing only Steve Young (594).

It was another disappointing finish for a Bills team that won its fourth consecutive AFC East title, and was on a six-game roll since a 20-17 win at Kansas City on Dec. 10.

“Just lost in the playoffs to a team that’s kicked us out,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “It’s tough. You work so hard throughout the season to fight and claw back, our backs against the wall, everybody doubting us midway through the season and we get here and just that close.”



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