By Field Level Media
Since the beginning of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have had one goal they turned into a catchphrase after winning last year’s Super Bowl: Run it back.
Patrick Mahomes got to state that objective again Sunday after the Kansas City Chiefs repeated as AFC champions by downing the Buffalo Bills 38-24 at Kansas City, Mo.
“The job’s not finished,” said Mahomes, after passing for 325 yards and three touchdowns. “We’re going to Tampa to try to run it back.”
After getting cleared from concussion protocol Friday, Mahomes still played with turf toe on his left foot but completed 29 of 38 attempts as the Chiefs gained an opportunity for a title defense.
Kansas City will attempt to become the first back-to-back NFL champion since the 2003-04 seasons (New England Patriots) when it meets the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7 in Super Bowl LV.
The Bucs beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26 for the NFC title behind Tom Brady, who will make his 10th Super Bowl appearance against a Chiefs team that went undefeated on the road this season.
“We’ve just got to be ourselves,” Mahomes said during the postgame trophy presentation. “I trust my guys over anybody to go out there and be ourselves.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid was even more on point about his team’s quest.
“We’ve got the Lamar Hunt Trophy again in Kansas City,” Reid said of the AFC championship prize named after the Chiefs founder. “Now we’ve got to go get the big one and bring home the gold.”
The Chiefs went three-and-out on their opening possession, then overturned a 9-0 deficit with second-quarter touchdown drives of 80, 82 and 77 yards.
Taking away a one-play kneel down to end the first half, Kansas City scored on six straight possessions while going 5-for-5 on touchdowns in the red zone.
Tyreek Hill raced 172 yards on nine receptions, including a 71-yard gain. Travis Kelce added 13 catches (a record for a conference championship game) for 118 yards and two scores. The Chiefs amassed 439 yards but may not have left tackle Eric Fisher for the Super Bowl after their left tackle suffered an Achilles injury.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen completed 28 of 48 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 88 yards, but fourth-quarter interceptions by Rashad Fenton and Bashaud Breeland (on a two-point conversion attempt) proved disastrous.
“This is a learning experience,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Tough environment to play. We didn’t play our best game; we didn’t coach our best game. We’ll be back.”
The Bills converted just 2 of 5 red-zone opportunities into touchdowns and settled for four field goals from Tyler Bass. Cole Beasley grabbed a team-high seven catches for 88 yards.
The game ended with chippy altercations that drew offsetting penalties.
The Bills converted Taiwan Jones’ recovery of a muffed punt by Mecole Hardman into a 3-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Dawson Knox for their 9-0 lead.
The Chiefs recovered to build a 21-12 halftime margin as Hardman atoned for his mishandled punt. He grabbed a 3-yard touchdown from Mahomes with 14:16 left in the half before beginning Kansas City’s next drive with a 50-yard end around.
The Chiefs tacked on touchdown runs of 6 and 1 yards from Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, respectively, for a 21-9 lead.
--Field Level Media