The Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-24 Divisional Round victory over the Buffalo Bills concludes another chapter in one of the NFL’s best current rivalries. The two teams lived up to the hype once again, as Sunday’s results marked the fourth consecutive time that the winner between them was decided by six points or fewer. Despite his team coming out on top with another postseason victory, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid began his press conference with high praise for Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott.
“All-time classic again,” Reid described Sunday night’s game. “Every time we play one of [Bills’ head coach] Sean (McDermott’s) teams, it comes right down to the end. He’s done a phenomenal job here and a phenomenal job this year — like Coach of the Year level coaching. If we don’t play them again, I’m good with that.”
The hard-fought game between the two high-powered offenses featured five lead changes throughout the night. However, after taking a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs could shut the Bills out for the rest of the game and secure the victory, much to Coach Reid’s delight.
“I’m so proud of our guys and the job that they did,” Reid said with a grin. “Just one heck of a job. The sidelines were so positive, which I thought was important in this game. We knew it was going to be a tight game just because of the caliber team they’ve got and it was. Our guys just kept their composure through the highs and the lows of the game.”
Sunday’s game was also significant as it marked the team’s first playoff road victory under quarterback Patrick Mahomes. While he downplayed the idea of it being the team’s actual first road playoff game, Mahomes was still proud of the way the team came together to win in a hostile environment.
“I think the guys took it as a challenge,” he observed. “Obviously, we played in the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay. We lost that one. I don’t like to bring that one up, but I mean we’ve basically played basically in road playoff games before. We just come in with the same mindset. We’re going to come together, put our best foot forward and see if we can come out with a win. That takes the mentality throughout the week, it takes every single play executing, and we did a great job of that today and we were able to score enough to win.”
Being the competitor that he is, however, Mahomes revealed that as much as he loves playing in front of the home crowd, he was just as excited to get a road win in front of a raucous Buffalo crowd.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even like a negative thing,” Mahomes admitted. “It was going to be a great environment. Being in here in Buffalo, I heard about it. Obviously, I played here, but not with the fans. I knew the fans were going to be rowdy. It’s going to be hostile. But you appreciate the greatness of organizations and going week in and week out packing the stadium and being fans. That’s what it’s all about, and so, I obviously love playing at Arrowhead, but it is cool to go on the road in a playoff game and be able to come out to win.”
Mahomes came through on Sunday night with one of his more efficient performances of the season. While his stats weren’t exactly eye-popping for his standards (17-of-23 for 215 yards and two touchdowns), Mahomes showed full control of the offense by successfully leading them down the field and taking whatever the defense game him.
This includes a lot of looks to tight end Travis Kelce. While Kelce finished the game with five receptions for 75 yards, his two touchdowns engraved his name, alongside Mahomes, into the postseason record books.
“We always emphasize getting the ball to Travis (Kelce) but passing anything that has (Tom) Brady and [Rob Gronkowski] in it is special,” Mahomes explained. Those are two of the greatest players — Tom is the greatest player and [Gronkowski] is one of the greatest tight ends of all time. So to be mentioned in that, and passing that, you appreciate it.
“It speaks to Travis and his work. Being able to go out there and make plays in big games. We always emphasize getting Travis the ball. He did a great job of getting himself open, and then once they started putting a lot of attention on him, other guys like (Marques Valdes-Scantling) made plays. So, that’s what it takes. It takes everybody. Everybody has got to make plays in order to win playoff games.”
Despite a tumultuous – and at times very frustrating – season, the Chiefs now find themselves back to where they’ve been for the past six years in a row: the AFC Championship game. With just one win away from securing their spot in this year’s Super Bowl, the Chiefs head back home to prepare for next weekend’s game against the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens.
“You appreciate it, you really do,” Mahomes said. “To be a part of this organization, and to be in the AFC championship game, that’s what you try to do every single season. It’s why you work in OTA’s, why you work out in the offseason and grind every single day. We know it’s going to be a great challenge, but our goal is to get to the Super Bowl. That’s going to take everything we have this next week because it’s a great Ravens team that we’re going up against.”