KANSAS CITY Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles up the field against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. — REUTERS

Rams edge Bucs on late field goal

PATRICK Mahomes passed for 378 yards and rushed for 69 Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs advanced to their fourth straight American Football Conference (AFC) championship game, outlasting the Buffalo Bills 42-36 in overtime in a divisional round matchup at Kansas City, MO.

Mahomes completed an 8-yard touchdown (TD) pass to Travis Kelce on the first possession of overtime, which prevented the Bills from ever getting a chance in the extra session in an epic showdown for what could be a special rivalry for years to come.

“With that coaching staff and the players they have,” said Mahomes, “there’s going to be a lot of battles. I’m glad we got this one. We’re going to try to keep it rolling. We’ve got a good team coming in next week.”

Kansas City, the No. 2 seed, claimed its 11th win in 12 games but will host the AFC championship game next Sunday against the one opponent that beat the Chiefs during that stretch, the Cincinnati Bengals.

All of the AFC championship appearances on the Chiefs’ run (since Mahomes became their starter) have been at home, with the last two resulting in Super Bowl berths.

“Guys didn’t flinch,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “They showed trust in themselves.”

The teams each scored twice inside the final two minutes of regulation, generating 25 points during that span. Kansas City forced overtime on a 49-yard field goal by Harrison Butker as time expired.

Before that, Bills quarterback Josh Allen fired touchdown strikes of 27 and 19 yards to Gabriel Davis, the last coming with 13 seconds remaining.

Mahomes responded by hitting Tyreek Hill with a 64-yard touchdown. Later, when he took over with 13 seconds left, he hit Hill for 19 yards and Kelce for 25 to improbably set up Butker.

“Every time he (Mahomes) comes in the huddle, he says, ‘Let’s be great,’ and it’s not corny when he says it,” Reid said.

Bills coach Sean McDermott termed the performance a “tremendous effort by Josh,” who connected with Davis for four touchdowns, while finishing with 329 yards passing and 68 yards rushing. Davis caught eight passes for 201 yards.

Buffalo saw its five-game winning streak end, suffering a postseason loss for the second straight year in Kansas City.

“Josh played his ass off,” Mahomes said. “This was a great game between two great football teams and at the end of the day, Tyreek and Travis made plays to win the game.”

Mahomes finished 33 of 44, with three touchdowns and 11 strikes to Hill for 150 yards.

Kelce added 96 yards on eight catches.

Allen engineered a 75-yard march in 75 seconds, firing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Davis with 37 seconds remaining to forge a 14-14 half time tie. Buffalo also scored on its first drive, converting two fourth downs, including a 1-yard touchdown rush by Devin Singletary.

Mahomes engineered touchdown drives of 11 and 12 plays in the first half. He rushed for 49 yards on the first series, including an 8-yard score, and found Byron Pringle for a 2-yard TD pass with 1:52 remaining.

For the half, Mahomes totaled 163 yards and Allen 158, with no turnovers.

A 50-yard field-goal attempt by Butker sailed wide right at the half time buzzer.

Meanwhile, Matt Gay converted a 30-yard field goal on Sunday as time expired, giving the Los Angeles Rams a 30-27 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the National Football Conference (NFC) divisional playoffs in Tampa, FL.

The Rams advance to the conference title game against the rival San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. The 49ers have beaten the Rams six straight times.

A win in the NFC final would enable Los Angeles to become the second straight franchise to play a home game in the Super Bowl.

Gay’s game-winning kick Sunday was set up when Matthew Stafford, who completed 28 of 38 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns, found Cooper Kupp for a 44-yard gain to the Buccaneers’ 12-yard line. The play capped a nine-catch, 183-yard day for Kupp.

“Steal somebody’s soul,” Stafford said of leading the game-winning drive. “You get to reach in there and take it from them. That’s a whole lot of fun.” — Reuters