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Final score: Chiefs’ comeback crumbles; Buffalo escapes with 20-17 win

The Chiefs’ overcame an early deficit, but fell flat with an opportunity to seal the deal late.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Going into Week 14, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills were both wishing for a five-game winning streak. Hosting the Bills on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, the 8-4 Chiefs needed to start that streak to give them a chance at the AFC’s No. 1 postseason seed — while the 6-6 Bills needed to kick it off so they could remain in playoff contention. But only Buffalo got its wish, collecting a 20-17 victory that extended its record to 7-6 — while Kansas City fell to 8-5.


First quarter


The Bills won the opening coin toss, deferring the decision to the second half. That gave Kansas City possession to begin the game, starting from the 25-yard line after a fair catch.

The Chiefs’ offense started with efficiency on offense, using positive runs and quick completions to quickly work past midfield; wide receiver Kadarius Toney’s 14-yard run out of the backfield highlighted the drive. From Buffalo’s 30-yard line, a Mahomes pass was tipped up and intercepted by Bills’ defensive end A.J. Epenesa.

Buffalo used a short pass to running back James Cook to gain 12 yards on first down, setting up in great position at the Chiefs’ 41-yard line. From there, Kansas City’s defense tightened up: a run stuff by defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi was followed by two incompletions, the last forced by linebacker Willie Gay Jr.’s pursuit of Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen. The Chiefs took possession back via punt, returned to the 12-yard line.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire continued his efficient start to the game, gaining nine yards on a reception — then earning six yards and a first down on the ground. However, the Bills’ defense worked the Chiefs into third and seven, and turned that into a sack. Kansas City punted right back.

The Bills leaned on the drop-back game with Josh Allen on the second drive, using his completions and scrambles to work deep into Kansas City territory. From the 25-yard line, Allen roped a pass to running back James Cook up the seam — giving Buffalo an initial 7-0 lead.

The Chiefs had little answer for the touchdown, nearly throwing an interception on second down — then being penalized for a false start on third down. The ensuing third and 12 was stopped short of the sticks, leading to a quick punt.

The Bills picked up where they left off on their next drive, gaining 12 yards on a Cook run, then moving the chains once again to setup at midfield. From there, Cook found space up the sideline for a 27-yard completion, getting to the Chiefs’ 23-yard line as the quarter ended.


Second quarter


In the red zone, the Bills converted fourth and one with a rollout by Allen. That got the offense inside the 10-yard line, and eventually in the end zone; a designed run for Josh Allen was pushed across the goal line, giving the Bills a 14-0 lead.

The Chiefs struggled into a third and 18, after offensive pass interference was called on tight end Travis Kelce. However, Kelce redeemed himself by finding open space and going up to catch a downfield pass on third and 18. That was followed up by a sideline completion to wide receiver Justin Watson, setting the Chiefs up at the Bills’ 37 yard line.

Two negative plays proceeded the Watson completion, then third and 12 ended in a pass behind wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Chiefs were too far away for an attempt at a field goal, punting back to Buffalo.

The Bills took the ball from the seven-yard line, moving past a third and short quickly to give themselves breathing room. Defensive tackle Chris Jones and defensive end George Karlaftis split a sack later in the drive, which set up third down: on that play, Allen scrambled, and forced a throw over the middle. Rookie safety Chamarri Conner secured the interception, giving the Chiefs possession at their own 48-yard line.

Quick passes to wide receivers Rashee Rice and Kadarius Toney set up a 12-yard completion to Kelce, putting the Chiefs at the Bills’ 26-yard line. A few plays later, holding was called, pushing the Chiefs into first and 20 at the two-minute warning.

After a false start call on right tackle Jawaan Taylor, the Chiefs used a quick slant to Rice, then a completion to Toney to move into third and one at the Bills’ 17-yard line. That was converted with a sideline throw to Richie James.

Two plays later, running back Jerick McKinnon patiently waited for a push up front, running into the end zone from seven yards out. That closed the Bills’ lead to 14-7 with under 90 seconds remaining in the half.

Buffalo worked to their own 43-yard line with under a minute to go, then crossed midfield on a pass to Diggs over the middle. Then, Allen moved the chains quickly on third down. That gave the Bills one last play before halftime, from the Chiefs’ 44-yard line. The hail mary attempt failed, leading into intermission.


Third quarter


Starting with the ball, the Bills continued leaning on James Cook to gash the Chiefs’ defense. He earned 35 yards on four straight carries during this possession, leading to the Bills getting inside the red zone. A penalty set them back from there, and pushed them into third and 13 from the Chiefs’ 19-yard line. After defensive tackle Chris Jones jumped offsides, the pressure enclosed on Allen again, and forced a field goal. Buffalo extended the lead to 17-7, capping off the six-minute drive.

The Chiefs’ pass game answered the Bills’ score, with first-down completions by Valdes-Scantling and Kelce starting the possession. Then, a play-action pass got Kelce loose for 22 more yards. In the red zone, the Chiefs were forced to third down, but a layered throw to the back of the end zone found Rice; the rookie’s latest touchdown narrowed the Buffalo lead to 17-14.

Kansas City’s defense worked Buffalo into a three and out, highlighted by a slant to wide receiver Stefon Diggs that was broken up by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. The Chiefs’ offense had the ball back, with less than two minutes remaining in the period.

Quickly facing third and short, the Chiefs converted with Mahomes dumping off to McKinnon in the flat. Two plays later, Rice fumbled after turning upfield after the catch, giving Buffalo the ball back in Chiefs’ territory.

The Chiefs’ defense worked Buffalo into third and 10, forcing two incompletions to start the drive. The Bills’ attempt to convert was stopped when cornerback Trent McDuffie blitzed and wrapped Allen up. Defensive end Mike Danna helped sack Allen, leading to a punt and the end of the third quarter.


Fourth quarter


An explosive punt return by wide receiver Richie James set the Chiefs up at their own 41-yard line. The first play of the possession went to Rice, who redeem the fumble with a 15-yard catch and run. Then, Mahomes scrambled right and moved the chains with his legs. That was followed up by a throwback screen to Edwards-Helaire, who takes the pass down to the Bills’ 12-yard line.

The Chiefs settled into third and eight from the 10-yard line, and pressure forced a hurried, incomplete throw by Mahomes. That led to the Chiefs settling for a field goal attempt, succeeding and tying the game at 17-17.

Buffalo looked to be in trouble quickly on the ensuing drive, but an incredible play by a scrambling Josh Allen turned into 28 yards on third down. The Chiefs’ defense settled in from there, forcing a third and 27 with the help of two holding penalties on Buffalo. On that play, defensive end Charles Omenihu bull rushed the left tackle and swallowed Allen whole. The sack led to a punt from the Bills’ 19-yard line.

The Chiefs’ defense made a heroic effort to overcome the big play by Allen, just for the Chiefs’ offense to go three and out. The last two plays were downfield incompletions, and the Bills had the ball back at their own 31-yard line with seven minutes to go.

Looking for another stop, Kansas City had the Bills facing third and eight. Only rushing three on the drop back, Allen had time to find a wide receiver streaking across the field and beating McDuffie for a 25-yard gain. Two plays later, a third and short was converted with Allen on the ground, setting Buffalo at the Chiefs’ 27-yard line.

The Chiefs had another opportunity to get a third-down stop, with Buffalo needing 10 yards this time. A scrambling Allen was sacked by Karlaftis, but illegal contact on cornerback Jaylen Watson negated the play. It forced Kansas City to work into another third and 10; the pass rush couldn’t corral Allen, but he eventually threw a short pass that led to fourth down and the two-minute warning.

The Bills made the 39-yard field goal, giving Buffalo a 20-17 lead with 1:54 on the clock.

Kansas City quickly worked into Buffalo territory, using tough catches by Valdes-Scantling and Rice on back-to-back plays. A big touchdown play was taken off the board after Kadarius Toney lined up in the neutral zone at the snap. That snowballed to fourth and 15, and that attempt to convert fell incomplete.


Injuries


Linebacker Nick Bolton took a hard hit on a second-quarter possession. He was not on the field for the first few plays of the following drive.

Safety Justin Reid stayed down on the field after a play in the second quarter. He came back quickly after.


Special Teams


Kicker Harrison Butker converted his first point-after attempt in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Butker nailed his second attempt. Early in the fourth quarter, Butker made a 27-yard kick to tie the game.

Punter Tommy Townsend had four punts in the game, with one landing at the seven-yard line after being downed by rookie cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe.

Punt returner Richie James earned four yards on his first attempt. Later in the game, James totaled 25 yards on a momentous return.

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