NFL – Throwback Thursday: An Instant Classic

13 Oct

Our Throwback Thursday posts here on Rayonsports span the decades of classic NFL games, but every once in awhile we are compelled to take short trips back in time to find a gem to highlight. That is the case this week, week 6 of the NFL schedule, as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Buffalo Bills. We travel back a short distance in time, only a matter of months in fact, to the epic AFC Divisional playoff game the 2 franchises staged on January 23  of this year.

The game was a rematch of the previous season’s AFC Championship game, and the Bills had somewhat avenged that defeat by beating the Chiefs in the regular season. This was a win or go home scenario, however, and Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is tough to beat in those situations. Buffalo struck first on a 1 yard Devin Singletary run, but Mahomes answered that with a pair of scoring drives, scrambling 8 yards to the end zone to finish off the first one, then finding Byron Pringle from 2 yards out to give the Chiefs a 14-7 lead. In a portent of things to come, Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Gabe Davis to tie the score at halftime.

The Chiefs took control in the third quarter. Harrison Butker kicked a field goal and speedster Mecole Hardman took a jet sweep 25 yards to paydirt, and after Butker missed the extra point K.C. had a 23-14 lead. Allen and the Bills were far from finished, however. The fiery Bills’ leader immediately launched a perfect 75 yard rainbow into the waiting arms of Davis for a score that shortened the deficit to 23-21. Butker opened the fourth quarter scoring with another field goal, but Buffalo then took the lead as Allen and Davis hooked up again, this time from 27 yards out. A successful 2-point try gave the Bills a shocking 29-26 lead and the shootout was clearly on. Doing his part to advance his club to the AFC title game, Mahomes answered with a drive ending on a 64 yard catch and run with the “Cheetah”, wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill took a short pass and whizzed past the bewildered Bills’ secondary to retake the lead at 33-29 with a little over a minute left. The game appeared over, but Allen had other ideas. Coming off a near perfect outing in the wild card round against New England in which he guided 7 touchdown drives in 7 possessions, the rising star from Wyoming calmly led the Bills downfield and hit Davis again to put Buffalo ahead 36-33 with only 13 seconds left on the clock.


Bills’ Gabe Davis torched the Chiefs’ secondary


Those 13 seconds will live in infamy in Buffalo Bills’ lore for the utter failure the team produced in that short span of time. Inexplicably, they kicked off into the end zone for a touchback rather than put the ball into the field of play to force the Chiefs to use a few precious seconds. They then employed a very questionable defensive strategy as they played soft and had their cornerbacks protecting the sideline even though Kansas City had all 3 time outs left. This left the middle of the field wide open and Mahomes deftly exploited it, moving his club easily into field goal range, where Butker connected on a 49 yarder to tie the game at 36-36 and send it into overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss and Mahomes shredded the Bills’ defense, moving his team downfield and hitting All Pro tight end Travis Kelce for the winning score from 8 yards out. The touchdown ended one of the greatest games played in NFL history as K.C. prevailed 42-36. The fallout from this classic battle caused a fury of backlash about the league’s overtime rules, as Buffalo and Allen never had a chance to answer the Chiefs’ drive. Ironically, Mahomes lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the same manner a couple of years prior. The resulting anger from fans and even rival GMs led to a rule change beginning in the 2022 season that allows both teams to possess the ball in overtime. Also, the 13 second gaffe resulted in the Bills’ special teams coach, who supposedly didn’t relay the message to his kicker not to boot the ball into the end zone, to quietly leave the organization for a lateral job in Jacksonville.

Lost in the craziness of the game’s ending was the record-breaking performance of Davis, who caught 8 passes for a massive 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. Helped by the extra attention the Chiefs paid to star receiver Stefon Diggs, Davis’ four scores set an NFL playoff record.


A forlorn Josh Allen after the final gun


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