Jan. 24 (UPI) — Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium to reach the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.
The Chiefs will face Tom Brady and the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Bucs, who beat the Green Bay Packers earlier Sunday, will be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
“It was just trusting each other. The best thing about this team is we believe in each other,” Mahomes said. “But the job’s not finished. We’re going to Tampa [and] we’re trying to run it back.”
Mahomes carved up the Bills’ secondary throughout the night, finishing with 325 passing yards and three touchdowns. His favorite targets, tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, combined for 22 catches, 290 yards and two touchdowns.
Kelce and Hill became the first duo in league history with consecutive games of at least 100 receiving yards each in a single postseason.
Rookie tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams each added short touchdown runs for the Chiefs, who will attempt to become the eighth franchise — and first since the Brady-led New England Patriots in 2003-04 — to successfully defend the Lombardi Trophy.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 28 of 48 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He added seven carries for 88 yards, but the former No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft again struggled against the Chiefs’ blitzing defense.
Buffalo jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter after a 51-yard field goal by Tyler Bass and a 3-yard touchdown pass from Allen to tight end Dawson Knox following Mecole Hardman’s muffed punt inside the Chiefs’ 5-yard line.
Mahomes then guided the Chiefs to 21 unanswered points as Kansas City quickly went up 21-9 late in the second quarter. Bass converted a 20-yard field goal with 11 seconds left before halftime to trim the Bills’ deficit to 21-12 at the break.
The Chiefs and Bills exchanged field goals to start the third before Mahomes flipped an underhand pass to Kelce for a 1-yard touchdown with under four minutes remaining in the quarter. The score was Kelce’s first of the game and gave Kansas City a 31-15 advantage.
Kelce added his second receiving touchdown with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter. The 5-yard score boosted the Chiefs’ lead to 38-15.
The Bills attempted to mount a comeback, beginning with Isaiah McKenzie’s 6-yard touchdown grab with 4:08 left. Buffalo then recovered an onside kick, which led to another 51-yard kick by Bass.
Trailing 38-24, the Bills again lined up for an onside kick but failed to recover. The Chiefs ran out the clock to punch their ticket to a second straight Super Bowl.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “They did a phenomenal job, and hats off to the Buffalo Bills and the great job they did all year. And most of all, we have the Lamar Hunt Trophy back in Kansas City.
“Now we have to get the big one.”