Greatest weekend ever? Greatest playoff game ever?
Those are legitimate questions after a dizzying weekend of NFL divisional playoff matchups. All four games were won on the final play.
Saturday was great. The Bengals, led by second-year quarterback Joe Burrow, beat the top-seed Titans 19-16 on Evan McPherson’s walk-off 52-yard field goal after an interception with 22 seconds left. The 49ers knocked out Aaron Rodgers and the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the Packers, 13-10 on Robbie Gould’s 45-yard field goal on a snowy Lambeau Field as time ran out.
MORE: Bills-Chiefs by the numbers
Sunday was even better. The Buccaneers rallied from a 27-3 deficit in the second half with a patented Tom Brady comeback, only to lose after Matthew Stafford’s 44-yard pass to Cooper Kupp set up Matt Gay’s 30-yard game-winner as time expired in a 30-27 thriller.
That all led to Bills-Chiefs, a game that will be on the short list of greatest NFL postseason games of all time. The Chiefs won 42-36 on Patrick Mahomes’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in overtime.
The weekend was great, but the Chiefs-Bills game will live on forever. Was it the greatest NFL playoff game of all time? Sporting News takes a closer look:
The last two minutes were amazing
Kansas City led 26-21 with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter, but like a great basketball game you could fast-forward to the final two minutes.
The Bills and Chiefs combined for 25 points and three lead changes in the final two minutes. Josh Allen gave Buffalo a 29-26 lead at 1:52 with a 27-yard TD pass to Gabriel Davis.
MORE: Updates, highlights from instant classic
Kansas City answered in five plays with a 64-yard TD pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill.
Allen responded with a six-play drive and a 19-yard TD pass to Davis with 13 seconds left.
That somehow turned out to be too much time. Mahomes hit Hill and Kelce on two passes for a combined 44 yards, which set up Harrison Butker’s game-tying 49-yard field goal.
Allen and Mahomes combined for 221 passing yards in the final two minutes.
Overtime didn’t last long
Cue up the NFL overtime debate again. Kansas City won the toss and marched 75 yards in eight plays. Mahomes hit a leaping Kelce in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score.
The Bills did not get a possession as a result. For the Chiefs, this was the reverse of their result in the 2018 AFC championship game, when the Patriots’ Tom Brady led the game-winning TD drive and denied Mahomes a possession in overtime in a 37-31 thriller.
What are Bills and Chiefs’ most memorable playoff games?
The Bills were on the wrong end of an instant classic this time. On Jan. 3, 1993, Buffalo rallied from a 35-3 deficit to beat Houston 41-38. The Bills lost to the Titans 22-16 on Jan. 8, 2000, in the “Music City Miracle.” Those games were both in the wild-card round.
Kansas City lost 27-24 to Miami in the divisional round on Dec. 25, 1971, in double overtime; it is the longest playoff game in NFL history. The Chiefs also lost a 45-44 shootout with the Colts on Jan. 4, 2014, in the AFC wild-card round.
Was this the highest-scoring playoff game?
No. The Packers and Cardinals set the NFL record on Jan. 11, 2010. Arizona won 51-45 in overtime in a shootout between Kurt Warner and Rodgers, who was making his first postseason appearance.
That game also was in the wild card round, however. This BIlls-Chiefs matchup was in the divisional round; another game that is often considered the greatest playoff game comes to mind.
Was Chiefs-Bills better than the ‘Epic in Miami’?
The 1982 AFC divisional round classic between the Dolphins and Chargers at the Orange Bowl is generally considered the greatest playoff game of all time outside of Super Bowls.
The Chargers jumped out to a 24-0 lead, but the Dolphins tied the game in the third quarter. A full-fledged shootout broke out. Dan Fouts passed for 433 yards, three TDs and an interception. Miami’s Don Strock had 403 yards, four TDs and an interception.
Fouts, who had 10 yards rushing, and Strock combined for 846 total yards of offense.
San Diego won 41-38 in overtime on Rolf Benirschke’s 29-yard field goal. The iconic image of Chargers players carrying tight end Kellen Winslow, who had 13 catches for 166 yards and a TD, off the field was made into a mural at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
How did the Allen-Mahomes duel compare?
The difference? Allen and Mahomes didn’t have an interception. Allen finished 27 of 37 for 329 yards and four TDs. That included a 75-yard pass to Davis in the second quarter that traveled approximately 57 yards in the air. Mahomes finished 33 of 44 for 378 yards and four TDs and made his usual array of amazing passes.
Allen and Mahomes also led their teams in rushing. Allen had 11 carries for 68 yards and Mahomes had 69 yards and a TD.
Allen and Mahomes had 844 total yards of offense. Davis had eight catches for 201 yards and four TDs. Hill had 11 catches for 150 yards.
What separates Bills-Chiefs from the others?
The weekend’s wild finishes bled into the Chiefs-Bills game, and the Allen-Mahomes show will not be forgotten. It was billed as the best game of the postseason, and it did not disappoint.
There were five passes of 25 yards or more yards after the two-minute warning, an amazing display of high-level quarterback play between the two young stars.
There have been better walk-off plays, but think about the final two-minute sequence.The walk-off touchdown might seem anticlimactic given the Bills didn’t get a shot, but that did not take away from what both teams did.
This was the greatest playoff weekend ever. And we won’t stop you from calling Chiefs-Bills the best game ever, either.