The NFL divisional round playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Jan. 23, was an instant classic. The Chiefs’ overtime win clinched their fourth consecutive AFC Championship game appearance; it also was the second year in a row they eliminated the Buffalo Bills and quarterback Josh Allen. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes vs. Allen is the NFL’s new Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry.
Let’s get the numbers from the game out of the way. Allen was 27-37 for 329 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran the ball 11 times for 68 yards. Mahomes was 33-44 for 378 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He ran the ball seven times for 69 yards and a touchdown.
There are four examples in the Super Bowl era of a QB completing 70% of his passes, throwing for 300+ and rushing for 50+ in a playoff game.
Two of those examples: Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes today.
Epic performances from both.
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 24, 2022
These were two outstanding performances, by two elite quarterbacks. Yes, Allen is elite. He is proving it every time he steps on the field. The NFL looks like it will have its marquee quarterback matchup for the next decade plus, assuming good health. And for each player, they will be constantly measured against the other.
The great Brady vs. Manning rivalry finished 11-6 in favor of Brady. They faced off five times in the playoffs with Manning owning a 3-2 edge.
The edge belongs to Mahomes right now, who is 3-1 after Sunday’s win. Two of the three wins have come in the playoffs, where legacies are built.
“To be in this game against that team, and to make a play to walk-off a game at Arrowhead, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Mahomes said. “It was definitely special. Obviously, Super Bowl (LIV) is probably the No. 1 for me, but this one is right up there.”
Mahomes and the Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals in next week’s AFC Championship game. It will be Mahomes’ fourth conference title game and a win will place him in his third Super Bowl. He is quickly racking up the appearances, numbers and wins that will have him among the all-time greats when his career is over.
Something Allen desperately wants…
Much of the talk following Sunday’s game was about the “fairness” of the NFL overtime rules.
The Chiefs won the coin toss, elected to receive and marched down the field for a game-winning touchdown. The rules state if a touchdown is scored on the first possession of overtime, the game ends. Meaning one team would never have the “chance” to possess the football, as Allen and the Bills offense were never on the field during overtime.
Josh Allen pauses with emotion when describing postgame field scene, Patrick Mahomes running to find him.
"He throws the winning touchdown and comes right over to find me," Allen tells us. "To be in that situation and do that was pretty cool of him."pic.twitter.com/M1UmHkD3FK
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 24, 2022
“The rules are what they are, and I can’t complain about that ’cause if it was the other way around, we’d be celebrating, too,” Allen said. “So, it is what it is at this point. We didn’t make enough plays tonight.”
Allen is 100 percent right on this, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Fans, regardless of the sport, tend to focus on offense. Mainly because it’s easier to understand and “scoring” is what excites people. But the idea that the overtime rule is unfair is overstated.
Defense is half of the game. When a team doesn’t have the ball, its job is to stop the other team from scoring. The defense has an opportunity to possess the ball with a takeaway.
The Chiefs’ game winning drive started at their own 25-yard line. The Bills had plenty of chances to possess the ball on defense. They just didn’t make enough plays in the moment. It happens.
“It was tough to be in that moment,” Allen said. “Again, I have a lot of respect for Pat, he throws the winning touchdown, and he comes straight over and finds me. To be in that situation and to do that, that was pretty cool of him to do that. Obviously, it sucks the way it happened. We wanted to win that game. We had our opportunities. (I was) taking it all in and holding on to the feeling and making sure that we don’t feel like this again, like I said back-to-back years in the same spot. It’s tough to take in, but it’s part of the game.”
This has a chance to be an all-time rivalry; let’s not ruin it with rule change discussions. You play the hand you’re dealt. This game shouldn’t have even gotten to overtime. The Bills were up three with 13 seconds left in regulation. But their inability to make plays on defense allowed the Chiefs to gain the yardage necessary for a game-tying field goal.
“It was a tremendous effort by Josh. They made a couple more plays than we need obviously down the stretch there,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “These guys came through a lot, they really did. And to come out here, and a game to come down to pretty much 13 seconds, I think they all feel the same way I do: We’re all sick to our stomachs and it hurts.”
Rivalries need a little animosity, a bad taste, a little something. Allen and the Bills losing they way they did is more fuel for that fire.
More news from our partners: