Kansas City, Missouri – Since the beginning of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have had one goal they turned into a catchphrase after winning last year’s Super Bowl: Run it back.
Patrick Mahomes got to state that objective again Sunday after the Chiefs repeated as AFC champions by downing the Buffalo Bills 38-24 in the AFC title game.
“The job’s not finished,” Mahomes said after passing for 325 yards and three touchdowns. “We’re going to Tampa to try to run it back.”
After getting cleared from concussion protocol Friday, Mahomes still played with turf toe on his left foot but completed 29 of 38 passes as the Chiefs earned the chance to defend their title.
Kansas City will attempt to become the first back-to-back NFL champion since the New England Patriots after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Those Patriots were led by quarterback Tom Brady, who will now be leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Kansas City in this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Brady, who will be making his 10th trip to the Super Bowl, and the Bucs beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26 for the NFC title.
“We’ve just got to be ourselves,” Mahomes said during the postgame trophy presentation. “I trust my guys over anybody to go out there and be ourselves.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid was even more on point about his team’s quest.
“We’ve got the Lamar Hunt Trophy again in Kansas City,” Reid said of the AFC championship prize, which is named after the Chiefs founder. “Now we’ve got to go get the big one and bring home the gold.”
The Chiefs went three-and-out on their opening possession, then overturned a 9-0 deficit with second-quarter touchdown drives of 80, 82 and 77 yards.
Taking away a one-play kneel down to end the first half, Kansas City scored on six straight possessions while going 5-for-5 on touchdowns in the red zone.
Tyreek Hill had 172 yards on nine receptions, including a 71-yard gain. Travis Kelce added 13 catches (a record for a conference championship game) for 118 yards and two scores. The Chiefs amassed 439 yards but may not have left tackle Eric Fisher for the Super Bowl after he suffered an Achilles injury.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen completed 28 of 48 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 88 yards, but two fourth-quarter interceptions, including one on a two-point conversion attempt, proved disastrous.
“This is a learning experience,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Tough environment to play. We didn’t play our best game; we didn’t coach our best game. We’ll be back.”
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