KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City has hosted three straight AFC Championship Games, but it’s going to be hard for the Chiefs to do during the 2021 season.
In a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills dominated Kansas City on both sides of the ball in a 38-20 victory on Sunday Night Football.
“They’re embarrassed by it, but we didn’t play well,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. ”We all are. You surely don’t want to play that way anytime, let alone at home. So, we’ve got to do better — from the coaches on down to the players, we’ve got to do better.”
The loss sinks the Chiefs (2-3) below .500 for the second time this season and leaves them effectively three games behind the Bills (4-1) and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC standings.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Reid said of the team’s struggles, saying the team was embarrassed by the performance.
The second half was delayed more than an hour by lightning, but it only delayed the inevitable.
Kansas City, which has trailed by at least 11 points in all three home games this season, couldn’t dig its way out of a 24-13 halftime hole — especially after Patrick Mahomes threw two third-quarter interceptions, including one Bills safety Micah Hyde returned 26 yards for a touchdown.
The Chiefs marched to the Bills’ 8-yard on the ensuing drive before defensive end Gregory Rousseau tipped a Mahomes pass to himself for another interception.
Kansas City’s defense forced another three-and-out and the offense finally found the end zone again on a 1-yard touchdown toss to Travis Kelce.
One play after a holding penalty erased a first-down scramble by Allen, and with Buffalo backed up inside its own 10-yard line, Rashad Fenton intercepted a deep throw over the middle near midfield only to have it erased by a roughing the passer penalty.
"It's a shame that happens," Reid said. "We had the momentum coming back our way. It's a shame that that penalty happened."
Given new life, the Bills completed an 85-yard march with Allen gashing the Chiefs’ defense with his legs and capping the drive with his second touchdown pass of the night to Emmanuel Sanders.
Allen finished the game 15 of 26 for 316 yards — a staggering 21.1-yard average per completion — with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 11 carries for 59 yards and a score in out-dueling Mahomes, who finished 33 of 54 for 272 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mahomes also dropped a shotgun snap late in the fourth quarter, which Tre’Davious White recovered for the final dagger.
The Chiefs finished the game minus-4 in the turnover department for the second time in three games. It also happened in the loss to the Chargers.
“That’s something we have to correct if we want to win these games,” Mahomes said.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs' defense hasn't forced a turnover since late in the first quarter during a Week 2 loss at Baltimore.
“I look forward to when both sides of the ball play well together, because I think we could be a good team,” Reid said.
Kansas City has trailed at halftime in every game this season.
The Chiefs rallied from a 12-point hole to beat Cleveland in the season opener but couldn’t come back from an 11-point deficit two weeks later in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Bills led 24-13 at halftime with Josh Allen completing only seven passes for 219 yards, including a 35-yard rope to Emmanuel Sanders for a first-quarter score and a 53-yard bomb to Dawson Knox for a second-quarter touchdown.
Daniel Sorenson appeared to lose Knox in coverage as Allen lobbed a ball over the top.
Sorenson also was the closest man in coverage on a 61-yard pass from Allen to Stefon Diggs, which set up a field goal earlier in the second quarter.
“I’ll know more after I talk to Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) and take a look at the film,” Reid said.
He said execution is a bigger problem than communication for the defense right now.
“Honestly, I think we’re just beating ourselves,” said safety Tyrann Mathieu, putting the blame on miscommunication, missed tackles and blown coverages. “... Obviously, we don’t practice that; our coaches don’t teach that.”
The Chiefs’ beleaguered defense was without starting defensive end Chris Jones, who was inactive with a wrist injury, and cornerback Charvarius Ward, who missed his third straight game.
Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. returned from injured reserve, but he played a limited role in his first action of the season. He finished with two tackles.
Kansas City grabbed the early lead with a 17-play drive to open the game, but settled for a 38-yard Harrison Butker field goal.
Allen, who had three carries for 42 yards on Buffalo’s first drive, answered with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Despite Byron Pringle’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff, the Chiefs’ defense got a stop and Patrick Mahomes delivered the lead with a 5-yard strike to Pringle early in the second quarter.
But Kansas City’s offense stalled from there as Buffalo scored the next 17 points.
The Chiefs inched closer with a 54-yard field goal in the closing second before halftime after eschewing on a drive earlier to go for it on fourth-and-5, which resulted in a turnover on downs.
Tyreek Hill, who caught seven passes for 63 yards, reached another milestone, becoming the sixth player in Chiefs history with 400 career receptions in 79 games, one shy of Kelce’s record for the fastest to that plateau (78).
That reception by WR Tyreek Hill gives him two for the game and 400 career receptions. He is the 6th player in franchise history to record 400 or more receptions and is the 2nd fastest to reach that plateau (79 games), trailing only TE Travis Kelce who reached 400 rec. in 78 gms— Chiefs Communications (@ChiefsPR) October 11, 2021