Sun Jan 23 10:25pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates with teammates after catching an 8-yard touchdown pass during overtime in an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 42-36. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) runs from Buffalo Bills cornerback Dane Jackson (30) during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pressured by Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Addison (97) during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (7) reacts after missing a filed goal during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis (13) celebrates with teammate Dawson Knox (88) after catching an 18-yard touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs from Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass over Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Ben Niemann (56) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs up field during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs from Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass around Buffalo Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs from Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill (22) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle (13) runs from Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the corner of the end zone from 8 yards early in overtime, and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied to beat the Buffalo Bills 42-36 on Sunday night in a sizzling finish to a wild divisional-round weekend.
The lead changed hands three times in the final two minutes of regulation before Harrison Butker, who earlier missed a field goal and extra point, drilled a 49-yarder for Kansas City as time expired to force overtime.
The Chiefs won the coin toss, marched swiftly downfield against the NFL's top-ranked but exhausted defense, and right into their fourth straight AFC title game. They'll play the Bengals next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Mahomes finished with 378 yards passing and three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder to Tyreek Hill during the thrilling final minutes of regulation. The Chiefs ended the Bills' season inside Arrowhead Stadium for the second straight year.
Josh Allen did everything in his power to prevent it. He threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis with 1:54 left in the regulation, then another to Davis - his playoff-record fourth TD catch - with 13 seconds remaining.
Allen finished with 329 yards passing, and Davis with eight catches for 201 yards, as the Bills - who had beaten the Chiefs soundly in October - lost their ninth straight road playoff game dating to their last victory in the 1992 season's AFC championship.
In a playoff game for the history books Sunday night, the Bills and Chiefs played 58 minutes that few will remember. And about two minutes and an overtime that few will forget.
The Chiefs were leading 26-21 when Allen, who had been nearly perfect all night, connected with Davis for the third time in the game - a fourth-and-13 dart that gave the Bills the lead.
Not to be outdone, the Chiefs answered when Mahomes found Hill over the middle. The fleet-footed wide receiver ran away from cornerback Levi Wallace for a 64-yard touchdown that gave Kansas City the lead back.
Then it was the Bills' turn. Allen threw a 28-yard pass to Davis, hit him again for 12 yards, then found Emmanuel Sanders to give coach Sean McDermott's team a chance with 17 seconds on the clock.
Allen hit Davis right between the numbers, their 19-yard strike giving him the postseason-record, but not the victory.
Mahomes wasn't done conjuring up playoff magic. He found Hill for 19 yards, then hit Kelce for 25 more. That gave Butker a chance to try a 49-yarder into a slight, chilly breeze as time expired.
Naturally, it split the uprights.
A fitting way to end a divisional-round weekend filled with last-second heroics.
Bills: CB Micah Hyde left with an undisclosed injury he sustained on the final play of regulation.
Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu left on the opening drive with a concussion after the Pro Bowl safety was hit by teammate Jarran Reed's knee. ... CB Charvarius Ward was hurt trying to tackle Allen with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game.
The Chiefs get a visit from Cincinnati next Sunday, becoming the first franchise in NFL history to host four consecutive conference championship games. The 49ers play the Rams for the NFC title in the nightcap.
Divisional Round Playoff Preview
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen saw his year come to a close during Sunday's loss to Kansas City, but it certainly wasn't due to his lack of production. Allen followed up his five-touchdown performance from the Wild Card Round with a four-touchdown showing in an epic duel against Patrick Mahomes. Allen finished 27-for-37 through the air, adding 329 passing yards to his team-high 68 yards accrued on the ground. The 25-year-old combined for nine touchdowns and just 14 incompletions in his two playoff outings, finishing with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last three games dating back to the regular season. Allen will be in the conversation for top quarterback honors in 2022 drafts, although offensive coordinator Brian Daboll stands to be a highly coveted head-coaching target over the coming months.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was once again a game changer during Sunday's win over Buffalo, which sent the team to the AFC Championship Game. Hill hauled in 11 of his 13 targets for a reception, none bigger than the 64-yard touchdown that he peeled off late in the fourth quarter, seemingly sealing the contest. Ultimately, Hill would compile 150 receiving yards, the third time this season he reached that mark. Next up is a meeting with the Bengals' defense, which held him largely under wraps back in Week 17, limiting his six catches to just 40 yards and no touchdowns. Still, the Patrick Mahomes-Hill connection remains as potent as they come, with the wideout having ripped off a 100-yard performance in four of his last six postseason appearances.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led his squad back to the AFC Championship Game with a victory over the Bills on Sunday that saw the signal caller sling three passing touchdowns, in addition to adding a rushing score. Arguably Mahomes' most impressive moment came with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation, when he got his team into field-goal range, thereby forcing overtime. Mahomes finished 33-for-44 through the air, slicing the elite Bills defense for 378 passing yards. If being the game's preeminent pass maestro wasn't difficult enough to gameplan, Mahomes also led Kansas City's ground attack with a season-high 69 rushing yards. He next squares off with a Bengals defense that he dropped 259 passing yards and two touchdowns on back in Week 17. He remains the premier DFS threat on any slate due to his propensity for finding the end zone.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis became the first player in NFL history to haul in four receiving touchdowns during a game in Sunday's defeat to the Chiefs. Davis' scintillating stat line also included eight receptions for 201 yards, easily pacing his team in both categories. During the regular season, Davis did not exceed five receptions in any single outing, with his domination of the Chiefs' defense coming as Stefon Diggs was largely held under wraps (three catches, seven yards). Looking ahead, Davis figures to remain a focal point of the potent Buffalo offense for years to come, having combined for 13 regular-season receiving touchdowns over his first two professional seasons.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Edwards (ankle) suffered a right ankle injury during the win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night. Fortunately, X-rays were negative, showing no fractures, which increases his chance of being available for the NFC Championship versus the Los Angeles Rams. However, the All-Pro still has a way to go before getting the green light to suit up, and if he doesn't, things may become more challenging for Jimmy Garoppolo, who has struggled during the postseason thus far.
Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon (ribs) sustained a fracture during the narrow Divisional round loss to the 49ers on Saturday night. Although Aaron Jones was the lead man out of the backfield, Dillon still finished the regular season with just over 800 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns. The 23-year-old has proven to be one of the best backups in the league, and with the Packers hinting at a rebuild, there is a chance Dillon could see an enhanced role during the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu (concussion) will not return to Sunday's game versus the visiting Bills. The defensive specialist suffered the injury during the first quarter, and after going to the locker room for an evaluation, he now finds himself in concussion protocol. The 29-year-old led the team in interceptions while ranking fourth in total tackles this season, so this certainly isn't the update the Chiefs' coaching staff was hoping for. Nonetheless, without Mathieu on the field, Josh Allen will have one less thing to worry about as he attempts to lead Buffalo to the AFC Championship versus the Bengals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans caught 9-of-16 targets for 119 yards and one touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. In this raging comeback attempt with absurd passing volume, Evans sometimes looked like the only aspect of the Buccaneers offense that was working. In 2022, with Antonio Brown gone, Chris Godwin starting the season injured and possibly being on another team, and Rob Gronkowski aging, Evans may find himself in an unfamiliar position in 2022 with fairly minimal competition. Regardless of what this offense looks like, as long as he has Tom Brady as his quarterback, Evans should be drafted in the first three rounds. Albeit in different ways, whether or not he has competition, Evans will succeed in fantasy.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers had 24 carries for 48 yards and two extremely costly fumbles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The sophomore runner still looked impressive at times, and considering the Buccaneers have one of the best run defenses and were expecting the Rams to run, this wasn't that discouraging. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor that his fumbling doesn't become a recurring issue, but other than that, this performance was not as bad as it seems. Plus, even after his initial fumble, the Rams remained confident in their young runner, illustrating that they trust him and prioritize his talent over the risk that he brings in terms of ball security, even in the playoffs. In 2022, Akers should be drafted in the early second round as a workhorse back with some lingering questions but elite talent and opportunity.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp collected 183 on nine catches and one touchdown, including a spectacular grab that led to the game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's not completely logical, but the chemistry that Kupp and Matthew Stafford share has been truly unparalleled andat timesunstoppable this season. Kupp isn't necessarily the fastest nor most agile, but his football IQ is unmatched and he seemingly always finds a way to produce. Historically, this illogical confidence can lead to disappointment, however. Kupp should be drafted as a top three wide receiver in 2022, but fantasy managers shouldn't expect him to replicate what he did this year.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a phenomenal statistical output going 28-for-38 for 363 yards, two touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, he made a number of almost costly mistakes. Fantasy managers must realize that this wasn't a fluke, and it's just part of the Stafford-experience; that isn't necessarily a bad thing though. For fantasy a quarterback that plays recklessly is typically not penalized that much, and this style of play can lend itself to fantasy stardom by means of comeback attempts. Sometimes, a reckless quarterback such as this can fail in the comeback attempt or even be benched, but Stafford is so talented that neither of these general concerns are major issues. In 2022, with the collection of Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., and Robert Woods along with Cam Akers and a stellar offensive line, Stafford must be considered a top quarterback in all leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was down 20-3 at halftime but continued to have an unforgettable performance against the Los Angeles Rams. The 44-year-old ended with 329 yards, one touchdown, and one interception; on its own, for Brady, this is not an impressive feat. However, when watching it, it was obvious that Brady still deserves to be a top fantasy quarterback until further notice, regardless of what weapons are surrounding him. With Antonio Brown gone, Chris Godwin injured to start the season and possibly leaving, Rob Gronkowski's advanced age, and a potential jumble in the backfield, this Buccaneers offense will look a lot different in 2022, determining just how highly he should be drafted. Although he is the greatest of all time, with so many other intriguing options at quarterback, it may be wisest to look somewhere else, especially if Brady has only a couple of his weapons remaining.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton hasn't committed to returning. The 58-year-old, who's been with the team since 2006, is currently on vacation and hasn't made himself available to those looking for answers. However, some believe a brief retirement may be on the horizon, with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen emerging as the top candidate to take his place. Payton has three years left on his current deal, but New Orleans could receive compensation if he ends up coaching elsewhere. Nevertheless, it's a situation to monitor, especially as it relates to Taysom Hill, who's been a favorite of Payton for years. It also could mean that Michael Thomas, who has had issues with Payton in the past, could remain with the Saints.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams finished with nine catches for 90 yards during the narrow loss to the 49ers. Adams was targeted 11 times on Saturday night, and he did all he could to help advance his team to an NFC Championship appearance. Nonetheless, with the season coming to an unexpected end, the 29-year-old will enter free agency, although there are rumblings that he will receive a franchise tag. He finished the year with a career-high 1,553 yards to go along with 11 touchdowns, so wherever he ends up, he's expected to continue contributing at a high level. Yet, his outlook will be higher if he remains paired with Aaron Rodgers, who hinted at retirement while entertaining the idea of playing elsewhere next season.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard had only one catch for six yards during the loss to the 49ers on Saturday. The 26-year-old had four touchdowns through his final three games of the regular season. Yet, Lazard's performance against San Francisco didn't surprise anyone, especially those who've been disappointed with his output over the years. Nonetheless, his outlook heading into next season is contingent on numerous factors, including the future of both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Lazard will also be a restricted free agent, so there is a chance he will be suiting up for a different team.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones had only 41 yards off 12 carries during the loss to the 49ers. However, he made up for it by adding nine receptions for 129 yards. The veteran did all he could to help his team advance to the NFC Championship. However, it wasn't enough, although he shouldn't shoulder any blame. Nonetheless, after Jones surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of his previous two seasons, he finished with only 799. While he did have a career-high 52 catches and six receiving touchdowns, his outlook heading into the 2021-22 campaign will be severely impacted by the future of Aaron Rodgers, who may retire or look to play elsewhere.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel finished with three grabs for 44 yards during the win over the Packers on Saturday night. He also got some work out of the backfield, adding 10 touches for 39 yards. While the 26-year-old didn't score a touchdown, it was still a solid showing for Samuel, who now has 20 carries during the postseason. Nonetheless, with the wideout appearing to get banged up on several occasions versus Green Bay, head coach Kyle Shanahan may take that into consideration on Championship Sunday, which may mean more carries for Elijah Mitchell.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle finished with a team-high four catches for 63 yards during the win over the Packers. Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel combined for 27 carries, so Kittle was impacted to some degree. He also dropped a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo in the first quarter, one which could have enhanced his statistical totals immensely. Nonetheless, while Kittle hasn't had the most productive postseason, his upside is higher than nearly everyone else's at the position. As a result, he should remain on the radar for DFS managers on Championship Sunday against the Buccaneers or Rams.
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell finished with 17 carries for 53 yards during the win over Green Bay on Saturday. He also added three catches for 18 yards. After Mitchell had 27 touches during the Wild Card win over the Dallas Cowboys, he was involved in a timeshare with Deebo Samuel, who had 10 carries for 39 yards. As a result, the 23-year-old is a risky DFS option on Championship Sunday, primarily since he may continue to surrender opportunities to Samuel moving forward.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finished with 131 yards and an interception during the Divisional round victory over the Packers. The frigid Lambeau Field weather made things difficult for both teams. However, it at least opened the door for Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell to combine for 27 carries. Nonetheless, the 30-year-old signal-caller has yet to throw a touchdown during the postseason, so DFS managers may want to avoid him on Championship Sunday, especially since Kyle Shanahan appears set on prioritizing the running attack.