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Chiefs grades for AFC Championship vs Bills

The Kansas City Chiefs are back-to-back AFC Champions after defeating the Buffalo Bills 38-24 on Sunday. They head to Tampa to face off against the Buccaneers and Tom Brady in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

Let’s dive into the report card for Sunday’s matchup.

Passing Offense: A+

After clearing concussion protocol and nursing a turf toe injury all week, Patrick Mahomes shined on Sunday. He went 29/38 for 325 yards passing and three touchdowns. He showed no signs of injury as he was on target all game, making play after play, including multiple throws while being hit. During Week 6, it was the run game that dominated for the Chiefs, but the passing game was the key to the offensive effort this time around.

Once again, the dynamic duo of Kelce and Hill were on fire, with the All-Pro tight end catching 13 passes for 118 yards and two scores, while the Cheetah broke away for a 71-yard reception as part of his 172-yard performance on nine receptions. Mecole Hardman got in on the action as well, catching his first career postseason touchdown pass. Despite not having Sammy Watkins, the air raid was dominant and Buffalo had no answers for Mahomes and Co.

Rushing Offense: B

The run game was the deciding factor in the regular-season matchup, but the Bills defense had a great gameplan for the Chiefs rushing attack. Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned and hit the field for the first time since Week 15 and he found the end zone, along with fellow LSU Tiger, Darrel Williams.

For the second straight week, Williams was the leading rusher as he ran for 52 yards. Hardman made an impact on the ground as well as he showcased his elite speed on a 50-yard rush in the second quarter.

However, Edwards-Helaire was held to seven rushing yards on six carries and Williams averaged only four yards per carry. The Buffalo defense played the run much better on Sunday, but it came at a cost in the passing game as Mahomes dominated and decimated the secondary.

Passing Defense: A-

The defense played a terrific game against Josh Allen and the dynamic Bills offense. L’Jarius Sneed continues to make a name for himself each week as he recorded another sack, along with two from the Shark, Frank Clark, and one more from Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Bashaud Breeland did a great job covering Stefon Diggs throughout the game, holding the star receiver to six receptions for 77 yards. Breeland also made a big play in the endzone on a two-point conversion, picking off Allen and holding on to a three-possession lead for the Chiefs.

Rashad Fenton returned this week and make an impact following the injury to Sneed. Fenton intercepted Allen off a tipped ball deep inside Chiefs territory, stopping the Bills from scoring and keeping a two-possession lead. Juan Thornhill had a huge game. He nearly intercepted Allen on the first drive and was all over the field making plays on the ball and in coverage. However, the dropped interception from Thornhill and one by Charvarious Ward did drop the grade a tiny bit.

Rushing Defense: B+

The Chiefs defense did a great job of containing Allen’s arm and legs. He did do a good job of evading pressure at times and scrambling for big yardage, but the KC defense didn’t let him beat them with his legs. Outside of Allen, the Buffalo run game was nonexistent as Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon combined for 32 yards on the ground with nine combined carries. The defense defended the run well for the second straight week.

Special Teams: D+

Harrison Butker performed well on Sunday, nailing his one field goal attempt from 45 yards out and converted on all five extra-point attempts. This week, Tommy Townsend hit the field once to punt and it was on the first drive but was on the field to hold for Butker for the rest of the game.

The downfall came with Mecole Hardman fumbling a punt return in the first quarter, giving the bills the ball on the KC three-yard line, which would eventually end up with a Buffalo touchdown and 9-0 lead. The other miscue came with Armani Watts fumbling the recovery on an onside kick from Bills kicker Tyler Bass. Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator, Dave Toub, will have to focus on eliminating those mistakes before the Super Bowl.

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