The Buffalo Bills' 2020 season came to a disappointing close Sunday night in the AFC Championship Game, as they were bested by the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-24, at Arrowhead Stadium.
With the victory, Kansas City, the defending champions and No. 1 seed in the AFC, advances to Super Bowl LV, and will look to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
For Buffalo, the loss ends what was, arguably, the franchise's best season since 1993, when the team made it's last trip to the Super Bowl. A regular season record of 13-3, a division title, and two playoff wins highlight the myriad of accomplishments this team achieved throughout the 2020 campaign. But, in the end, they came up just a bit short against a team where there's little to no margin for error.
The Bills moved the ball well on the opening drive of the game. Faced with a 4th-and-1 at Kansas City's 48-yard line, Josh Allen found tight end Dawson Knox for a first down to keep the possession alive. Allen was nearly intercepted after looking for wide receiver Cole Beasley along the sideline on third down, but the pass fell incomplete.
Buffalo took an early 3-0 lead on a 51-yard field goal from Tyler Bass. The rookie's kick is the longest made field goal in postseason history at Arrowhead Stadium.
Kansas City went three-and-out on its opening drive and quickly punted the ball back to the Bills. Buffalo punted on its second possession, but Kansas City's Mecole Hardman muffed the punt and Taiwan Jones recovered the ball at the Kansas City three-yard line.
Buffalo took advantage of the special teams error in swift fashion, as Allen found Knox for a three-yard passing touchdown, extending the Bills' lead to two-scores.
While the Bills did add points on the board, special teams let them down as well. Bass missed the extra point attempt following Knox's touchdown grab, leaving the score at 9-0 with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Kansas City responded with a seven-minute, 14-play scoring drive, in which the Chiefs threw 13 times. Hardman earned himself a bit of redemption from the muffed punt, being on the receiving end of a three-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes, pulling Kansas City within two points early in the second quarter.
The Chiefs took the lead later in the quarter after a quick punt from Buffalo. Kansas City drove 80-plus yards, again, this time in a shorter span, just a little under three minutes. It took just five plays for Kansas City to find the end zone this time, as running back Darrel Williams found the end zone on a six-yard touchdown run to push Kansas City in front, 14-9. The touchdown was set up thanks, in large part, to a Hardman end-around that went for 50 yards into Bills territory.
Buffalo's offense continued to struggle finding a rhythm, even with the Chiefs taking the lead. Following a quick three-and-out from the Bills, Kansas City scored its third touchdown in as many drives. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who ran for 161 yards against Buffalo back in Week 6, rushed for a one-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the first half - stretching the Chiefs' lead to 21-9.
The Bills managed to stop the bleeding, a little, before the quarter ended. Buffalo put an end to Kansas City's run of 21-unanswered points with another field goal from Bass, this one from 20 yards out, to make it 21-12, Chiefs at halftime.
Despite getting points at the end of the half, the Bills may have left some on the board. Facing a 4th-and-goal situation at Kansas City's two-yard line with 0:14 seconds left, Buffalo elected to kick the field goal instead of going for a touchdown.
Kansas City started the second half with the ball, picking up right where they left off and continuing to finish drives with points. The Bills did manage to hold the Chiefs to their first field goal attempt of the game after Jordan Poyer laid a big hit on Edwards-Helaire on third down. Harrison Butker put the Chiefs back up by 12 with a 45-yard field goal on the following play.
Once again, the Bills managed to get inside Kansas City's 10-yard line, but, were held to the same result as the end of the first half, a Bass field goal. Allen missed Stefon Diggs in the corner of the end zone on third down, and Buffalo had to settle for a 27-yard field goal, cutting the score to 24-15, with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Kansas City went back to putting the ball in the end zone. Tyreek Hill broke-off for a 71-yard catch-and-run, moving the Chiefs all the way down to Buffalo's four-yard line. Two plays later, Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce in the end zone with a one-yard, underhand toss, extending the lead to 31-15.
Buffalo didn't show any quit, even as the Bills entered the final quarter down 16 points. They were even putting together a nice drive, moving to the Chiefs' 20-yard line and looking like they had found a groove. However, a pass intended for John Brown bounced off his hands and into the arms of Kansas City's Rashad Fenton, giving the ball back to the Chiefs. The interception is the first of Josh Allen's postseason career.
Kansas City proceeded to go on an 11-play, 58-yard scoring drive. Mahomes delivered, what felt like, the final dagger with a five-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kelce, the tight end's second score of the night.
Kelce put on an incredible performance, finishing with an eye-popping 13 receptions for 118 yards to go with his two touchdowns. Hill finished right behind Kelce, grabbing nine passes for a game-high 172 yards. The duo accounted for 290 of Mahomes' 325 passing yards.
Along with the 325 passing yards, Mahomes completed 29-of-38 passes, along with his three touchdowns.
Allen finished the game 28-for-48, throwing for 287 yards, along with two touchdowns and the interception.
Stefon Diggs finished with six catches for 77 yards, but was kept quiet for most of the night. Cole Beasley led all Bills receivers with seven catches for 88 yards. Along with his first quarter touchdown grab, Knox finished with six receptions for 42 yards.
Again, the Bills showed fight until the very end. Allen found Isaiah McKenzie for a six-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, pulling the Bills to within three scores. However, Allen's pass attempt on the two-point conversion was intercepted, leaving the deficit at 17 points.
A successful recovery of an onside kick led to Bass making another field goal late in the fourth quarter, another 51-yard kick and his fourth made field goal of the night to make the score 38-24, Chiefs.
However, Kansas City would get the ball back on another onside kick attempt and kneel-out the clock from there.
- 3-0 BUFFALO – Bills field goal (11:27) – Tyler Bass’ 51-yard field goal attempt is good
Drive info: 10 plays, 42 yards, 3:33
- 9-0 BUFFALO – Bills touchdown (6:14) – Josh Allen passes to Dawson Knox for a three-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is no good)
Drive info: 1 play, 3 yards, 0:05
- 9-7 BUFFALO – Chiefs touchdown (14:16) – Patrick Mahomes passes to Mecole Hardman for a three-yard touchdown (Harrison Butker’s extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yards, 6:58
- 14-9 KANSAS CITY – Chiefs touchdown (9:35) – Darrel Williams rushes for a six-yard touchdown (Harrison Butker’s extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 82 yards, 2:51
- 21-9 KANSAS CITY – Chiefs touchdown (4:12) – Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushes for a one-yard touchdown (Harrison Butker’s extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yards, 4:19
- 21-12 KANSAS CITY – Bills field goal (0:11) – Tyler Bass’ 20-yard field goal attempt is good
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yards, 4:01
- 24-12 KANSAS CITY – Chiefs field goal (10:48) – Harrison Butker’s 45-yard field goal attempt is good
Drive info: 10 plays, 48 yards, 4:12
- 24-15 KANSAS CITY – Bills field goal (5:52) – Tyler Bass’ 27-yard field goal attempt is good
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yards, 4:59
- 31-15 KANSAS CITY – Chiefs touchdown (3:29) – Patrick Mahomes passes to Travis Kelce for a one-yard touchdown (Harrison Butker’s extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 75 yards, 2:20
- 38-15 KANSAS CITY – Chiefs touchdown (7:36) – Patrick Mahomes passes to Travis Kelce for a five-yard touchdown (Harrison Butker’s extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 58 yards, 5:35
- 38-21 KANSAS CITY – Bills touchdown (4:08) – Josh Allen passes to Isaiah McKenzie for a six-yard touchdown (Josh Allen’s pass attempt is incomplete, two-point conversion is no good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yards, 3:28
- 38-24 KANSAS CITY – Bills field goal (3:14) – Tyler Bass’ 51-yard field goal attempt is good
Drive info: 4 plays, 16 yards, 0:54
The Bills will return to Buffalo, have locker clean out day in the near future, and then look forward to the upcoming NFL Draft, the offseason, and of course, the 2021 campaign.