The Chiefs and Bills entered a full-blown shootout in the final stages of the fourth quarter, trading scoring drives like a heavyweight prize fight. Buffalo took a 29-26 lead with a 27-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass with 1:54 remaining. Kansas City then covered 75 yards in 52 seconds, regaining the lead on a 64-yard Tyreek Hill touchdown.
Buffalo responded by going 75 yards in 49 seconds, with Gabriel Davis' fourth touchdown of the night giving them a 36-33 lead. It was the second miraculous touchdown drive authored by Bills quarterback Josh Allen in as many attempts, and with only 13 seconds left to play, the Chiefs needed their own divine intervention.
Instead, they became a sign of doom for the Bills.
"When it's grim, be the Grim Reaper and go get it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he told Patrick Mahomes before the final drive of regulation. "So, he did that. He made everybody around him better which he is great at and, you know, he just does it effortlessly. When it gets tough, he's gonna be there battling and players appreciate that."
Armed with three timeouts, the Chiefs still had time for two, perhaps even three plays. Mahomes completed a 19-yard pass to Hill on first down, followed by a timeout. Mahomes then fired a dart to Travis Kelce for a 25-yard gain down to Buffalo's 31 with just enough time left to burn another timeout, setting up Butker for his 49-yard, game-tying attempt.
Kansas City won the overtime coin toss, received and covered 75 yards with relative ease for the 42-36 victory. Mahomes' game-winning TD pass to Kelce only required a quick review before confirming what everyone in Kansas City, Buffalo and the rest of the football world already knew: The Chiefs had won the most thrilling playoff game possibly ever. They now move on face the Cincinnati Bengals in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
"It was a heck of a game," Mahomes told CBS' Tracy Wolfson. "I mean, 17, Josh, played his ass off, pardon my language. I mean, it was a great game between two great football teams and, at the end of the day, guys like Tyreek and Travis made the plays that won us the game."
The only error that could be found in what was a perfect final few minutes of football for the Bills came on the kickoff that followed Allen's fourth touchdown pass to Davis. Buffalo elected to have Tyler Bass send the kick deep into the end zone for a touchback, sparing the Chiefs precious few seconds that proved to be crucial in Kansas City's effort to get into field goal range.
A squib kick would have forced a return, which would have likely resulted in better starting field position, but also would have taken time off the clock. Instead, Mahomes had all of 13 seconds to get the Chiefs to overtime.
"We talk about a lot of things," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said when asked about the decision to kick it deep. "I'm just going to leave it at execution and it starts with me."
Add it to the litany of Buffalo heartbreaks. Wide Right. The Music City Miracle. And on Sunday, 13 Seconds.
"When the teams had to execute, two very good football teams executed," Bills center Mitch Morse said after the defeat. "I feel like it was one of those things, that if, it felt like whoever had the ball last was going to win the game. We just ended up on the wrong side of maybe one of the greatest games in postseason history.
"Devastated in that locker room. Very proud of our guys. But that last two minutes of football was something special. You can't write it in movies. It was remarkable. I was honored to be a part of it."
This game won't be forgotten for quite a long time, if ever. Sunday marked the first playoff game in NFL history with three go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. The 1958 NFL Championship Game -- known as The Greatest Game Ever Played, a sudden-death finish credited for permanently vaulting football into the American sporting consciousness -- doesn't hold a candle to this conclusion.
"We're gonna play this team a lot of times in games like this," Mahomes said of the Bills, who have now seen their season end at the hands of the Chiefs in consecutive years. "With that quarterback, with that coaching staff and the players they have, it's going to be a lot of battles, I'm glad we got this one. We're trying to keep it rolling, we got a good team coming in next week but we get to be in Arrowhead for the AFC Championship."