The Buffalo Bills had it.
Josh Allen hit a huge fourth-down pass for a touchdown and a lead with 1:54 left. Even after Patrick Mahomes hooked up with Tyreek Hill for a 64-yard touchdown with 1:02 left, Allen hit Gabriel Davis for another score with 13 seconds left to take the lead. It seemed like it was finally the Bills' time. It felt like a franchise-changing playoff win.
But Mahomes has some magic. There's a reason people are already wondering if he might end up in the conversation as the greatest quarterback ever.
In an absolutely stunning turn, Mahomes got the Chiefs into field goal range with two big completions in the final few seconds, and Harrison Butker hit a 49-yarder as time expired in regulation to send the game into overtime. The Chiefs got the ball first in overtime and Mahomes calmly marched his team downfield. Mahomes hit Kelce for a walk-off touchdown and a 42-36 win in an instant classic. The Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game next week.
The Bills went 11-6 and won the AFC East for a second straight season. They beat the New England Patriots, their rival who had tortured them for years, in a near-perfect playoff performance in the wild-card round. They played an absolute classic against the Chiefs. And none of it matters. The pain from losing like they did will overwhelm any other feeling. All they needed was one stop with 13 seconds to go. That will haunt the Bills and their tortured fans for a long, long time.
Chiefs, Bills trade big plays
The Bills and Chiefs didn't come out trading uppercuts. They spent most of the first 28 minutes of the first half settling in.
The game was tied 7-7 when Patrick Mahomes hit Byron Pringle for a touchdown just inside of the two-minute warning. Josh Allen answered right back with a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis after two Chiefs defenders collided and fell down. The Chiefs missed a field goal at the end of the half and it was 14-14 at halftime.
The Bills seemed to be playing a little too conservative early on, rarely taking deep shots despite the Chiefs being without safety Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu suffered a concussion in the first quarter. When the Chiefs took a 23-14 lead on a Mecole Hardman touchdown, it caused the Bills to open things up. Allen hit Davis on a 75-yard deep ball down the middle to get Buffalo right back in the game.
The Bills trailed 26-21 when they took possession early in the fourth quarter. They went on a drive that looked like it would send them to the AFC title game. Little did they know the drama was just starting.
Bills vs. Chiefs comes down to the wire
Allen made some huge plays in the fourth quarter. He picked up multiple first downs on a 17-play, 75-yard drive, including a few with his legs. The Bills were on the brink of losing when they faced a fourth-and-13, but Allen calmly found Davis in the end zone, after his defender fell down for what looked like a signature play. The Bills got the two-point conversion to take a 29-26 lead, but Mahomes still had a lot of time.
The Chiefs didn't need long. The drive started slow but Hill's explosive speed led to a quick touchdown and a 33-29 Kansas City lead. He caught a crossing route, turned it up and outran the Bills defense for a 64-yard score. Then it was Allen who still had a lot of time. He got the Bills into the end zone, hitting Davis for a touchdown with 13 seconds left. The Bills led 36-33.
Mahomes got the Chiefs into field-goal range with only a few seconds to work with. He hit Hill for 19 yards and then Travis Kelce for 25 more to set up a 49-yard attempt by Harrison Butker. Butker hit it and an amazing game went to overtime. Mahomes won it in overtime when he hit Kelce near the sideline for the winning score.
It was one of the greatest games in NFL playoff history. The Bills won't care about their role in the historic game. It was just a soul-crushing loss.