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It wasn’t a Super Bowl preview because the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills cannot meet in the Super Bowl. But AFC Championship game preview?
Budding classic rivalry game?
The two best teams in the AFC played Sunday afternoon and after the Bills beat the Chiefs, 24-20, to mark the second time they win in Kansas City in the past year, the team from Western New York has a early grasp on the conference’s best record.
And, obviously, the top seed that goes with that.
That is a big deal because no one wants to play playoff games against the Bills in Buffalo.
And the Bills definitely don’t want to play another playoff game in Kansas City after last season’s exciting (for Kansas City, especially in the final 13 seconds) but depressing (for the Bills) overtime game.
That didn’t factor Sunday but it’s clear that games between these two will continue to be thisclose.
This game had four lead changes.
It was one-score game, even once it was decided.
The teams were tied after the first quarter.
They were tied after the second quarter.
They were tied after the third quarter.
“If it’s by 1 or by 100 it’s another win,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. “That’s what we’re trying to do each and every week.”
This is starting to feel like the NFL’s best rivalry of the 2020s — kind of like the Patriots and Colts were in the 2000s, or the Steelers and Raiders were in the 1970s, and the 49ers and Cowboys were in the 1990s.
“We’re in the early stages of it,” CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz said of the rivalry during the broadcast.
This rivalry has a lot of stars — Von Miller, Travis Kelce, others — but let’s be honest: It’s mostly about Allen vs. Patrick Mahomes.
And the two played well. Allen threw 3 TD passes and had 329 passing yards plus 32 rushing yards. He also had a crazy hurdle play that he seems to save mostly for the Chiefs.
“It’s a split second,” Allen said of his decision to use the hurdle. It’s a quarterback run and it turned into a big play.”
Allen delivered the game-winning score on a 14-yard scoring pass to tight end Dawson Knox. with 1:04 left in the game.
That gave the ball to Mahomes and obviously that’s problematic for many teams. Mahomes finished 25 of 40 attempts for 338 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions.
“Anytime you’re going against a quarterback like that and he’s got the best start [of a career] of any quarterback to ever play this game, he’s a special player,” said Allen who sat on the bench, head buried in his hands during part of the Chiefs’ final possession.
“When he’s got the ball in his hands, you never know what can happen.”
Ultimately, it was a Mahomes mistake that capped this one off. Taron Johnson intercepted a Mahomes pass after Miller, signed as a free agent for moments exactly like this, flushed Mahomes out of the pocket.
“Man, that’s why I went to the Denver Broncos, that’s why the Rams traded for me last year, and that’s why I’m here,” Miller said. “It’s part of the job description.”
These two will definitely play again next year because the AFC East and AFC West will play next season and that game will be in Kansas City again.
But, of course, the playoffs in January may also beckon.
“I’m sure,” Miller said, “this won’t be the last time we see those guys.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero