On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills both badly needed to begin a five-game winning streak on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. The 8-4 home team would need it for a chance to claim the AFC’s No. 1 postseason seed — while the 6-6 visitors had to have it for a chance to remain in playoff contention. But only the Bills got that streak underway, collecting a 20-17 victory that extended their record to 7-6 — and dropped the Chiefs to 8-5.
The Chiefs began the game by efficiently moving the ball down the field, getting well past midfield before A.J. Epenesa batted a Patrick Mahomes pass up in the air and came down with the ball for an interception. The teams traded punts, leaving Buffalo with a short-field opportunity that the team turned into a six-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open James Cook to take a 7-0 lead.
A false start penalty on Marquez Valdes-Scantling blunted the next Chiefs drive before it could really get started — and Kansas City punted again. That led to a 12-play, 73-yard Bills drive that gave them 14-0 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the half.
Kansas City managed seven plays on their next drive — at one point converting a third-and-18 with a pass to tight end Travis Kelce — but it sputtered past midfield, forcing another punt. Starting at their 7-yard line, Buffalo had a little more trouble on its next drive, running eight plays before rookie safety Chamarri Conner intercepted a pass to give Kansas City the ball at its own 48-yard line with 3:36 left in the half.
The Chiefs’ offense struggled — overcoming a first-and-25 after back-to-back penalties on the offensive line — but managed to move the ball into the red zone. Then on third-and-4 at the 7-yard line, Jerick McKinnon threaded his way through tacklers before pushing his way into the end zone, making the score 14-7 with 1:19 remaining before halftime. This time, the Kansas City defense kept the Bills from driving downfield; that score held into halftime.
Just as it did to open the game, Buffalo moved right down the field to open the second half — but once in the red zone, a holding penalty pushed the team back. The Chiefs held on third-and-7, forcing a 31-yard Sam Bass field goal that extended Buffalo’s lead to 17-7. Kansas City’s offense awakened on the next possession, moving smartly down the field in nine plays before ending with a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashee Rice that narrowed Buffalo’s lead to 17-14.
The Chiefs’ defense forced a three-and-out — and the offense went to work, appearing to pick up momentum when an incomplete pass to Kelce was overturned on appeal. But then, Rice fumbled the ball away just short of midfield as the third quarter came to an end. Kansas City’s defense forced another three-and-out outside of field-goal range, giving the offense a short field after James’ 25-yard punt return brought the ball to the Chiefs’ 41. The Kansas City offense drove to the Buffalo 10-yard line before the drive stalled — and Harrison Butker’s 17-yard field goal tied the game 17-17 with 11:33 left.
On the Bills’ next drive, a third-and-9 was converted after Allen threw up a prayer that turned into a 21-yard gain. But then two holding penalties led to a third-and-27 where Charles Omenihu sacked Allen at his own 19-yard line — and after a punt, it was Buffalo’s turn to force a three-and-out.
A 25-yard pass to Deonte Harty put the Bills past midfield. On a third-and-10, George Karlaftis sacked Allen — but Kansas City cornerback Jaylen Watson had been penalized downfield, giving Buffalo a first-and-10 at the 22. The Chiefs finally managed a stop, allowing Buffalo to take a 20-17 lead with a 39-yard field goal just after the two-minute warning.
Starting at the 25 with 1:54 left (and two timeouts), Kansas City quickly got past midfield — and after catching a pass deep downfield, Kelce lateraled to Kadarius Toney, who raced to the end zone for a touchdown — but Toney had already been flagged for lining up on the neutral zone, negating a brilliant, game-winning play. On a fourth-and-15, Mahomes pass fell incomplete, sealing Buffalo’s 20-17 victory.