Following a shootout for the ages, let’s take a deeper look into who shined with the lights on most on Sunday.
Sunday night’s showdown between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs will be remembered for a long time across the NFL. Perhaps a little longer in the city of Kansas City as it was back and forth the entire game going down to the wire. This will surely be a sought-after rivalry that is created throughout the AFC for many years to come. Let’s take a look at three players who stood out in this Divisional Round matchup
I might as well rip the bandaid and start with the most obvious player that stood out on Sunday night. Mahomes’ postseason magic is here and he’s only going to continue to improve. So much for a “down” season for Mahomes and the Chiefs. Mahomes made his tenth career postseason start against the Bills in just his fourth year as a starter. After throwing three touchdown passes against Buffalo, he now has 25 passing touchdowns in his first 10 playoff games. That mark is good for the most career passing touchdowns by a QB through their first 10 playoff games in NFL history.
He was able to get in done through the air, but also able to use his legs to be the Chiefs leading rusher in the game. Mahomes was able to scramble 34 yards up the middle on the Chiefs’ first drive that was capped off with a diving rushing touchdown from the Texas Tech product.
Mahomes was able to execute the offense and march the Chiefs down the field to put them in field goal range with just 0:13 seconds remaining. He was then flawless in the overtime period after Kansas City won the toss. Dismantling the league’s No. 1 pass defense, completing 6 of 6 passes that were capped off with winning score to tight end Travis Kelce.
It seems that it’s only right to talk about the quarterback on the other side following this matchup. Coming into Kansas City hot off a big win over New England Josh Allen didn’t miss a beat. Despite the loss, Allen still had a historic postseason run in his two games. He would throw for nine touchdowns with just 12 incompletions, to put that in perspective Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 11 incompletions during Sunday’s game.
Allen seems to have cemented himself as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league. The seventh overall pick out of Wyoming in 2018 was also a “stat sheet stuffer” for his team on Sunday. Similar to Mahomes he also led Buffalo in rushing yards while throwing for 329 yards and four touchdowns. All four were thrown to second-year wide receiver Gabriel Davis who had a career night.
After leading the Bills to back-to-back go-ahead drives seemingly putting Kansas City away, Allen was able to use his arm and legs to continue to make plays. Cameras on TV flashed to his family celebrating in their suite following the fourth Davis touchdown. Enter Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and the high-powered Chiefs offense.
Following a less than ideal end to his regular season, Tyreek Hill battled injuries that limited him to playing less than 50% of snaps in two of the Chiefs’ last three games. Hill totaled just 61 yards over that stretch, his Wild Card Round performance saw him post 57 yards and a touchdown.
He would explode in his Divisional Round matchup with one of the top overall defenses in the league. Showcasing for everybody across the league to witness the true speed of a cheetah. Hill would haul in 11 catches on 13 targets that would gain 150 yards. Including a big go-ahead 64-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter that would end off with him throwing up his infamous “peace sign” to a defender who was in front of him, before racing into the endzone.
Hill’s impact would go far beyond his role in the Chiefs’ passing attack, he was also a threat on special teams. In his lone punt return, Hill would flip the field position in a run back of 45 yards for Kansas City following a 4th and 20 punt for Buffalo. Although the original play was a shorter return, it would get negated due to offsetting penalties. Giving Hill another opportunity, where he did not disappoint, juking out three Bills defenders at once. He was finally run down by Buffalo punter Matt Haack. Tyreek will be another one to watch in next week’s AFC Championship as the Chiefs offense is clicking at the right time.
Bonus: Gabriel Davis and Nick Bolton
In one of the best playoff games ever, it seems unfair to showcase just three players that stood out in the game. Before Sunday’s game, it was thought that Bills receiver Stefon Diggs would be heavily featured in the contest. It was the complete opposite as he was held to seven yards on three catches. His teammate Gabriel Davis held the spotlight in this one, putting together one of the best playoff performances ever. Hauling in eight catches for 201 yards, along with FOUR touchdowns that will carve his name in the record books with the most touchdown catches in a single playoff game in NFL history.
Chiefs rookie linebacker Nick Bolton also had quite the performance with the lights on Sunday. Bolton has been one of the best rookie linebackers in the entire league this season and it translated seemingly into the playoffs. He was all over the field being especially effective against the run, shedding defenders totaling eight tackles including a TFL. Watch out rest of the league, Nick Bolton is just getting started…