ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — As much respect Josh Allen has for friend and occasional offseason golf partner Patrick Mahomes, the Buffalo Bills quarterback still can’t forget when his Kansas City Chiefs rival got the last laugh at his expense.
The two were teammates in a made-for-TV golf event in June 2022 when Mahomes was asked to describe Allen’s biggest fear. Pausing for a moment, Mahomes said, “A coin toss,” causing Allen to smile and lower his head.
The Kansas City quarterback, of course, was referring to the Chiefs' 42-36 overtime victory in a 2021 season AFC divisional-round game that Bills fans have dubbed “13 Seconds.” That’s the amount of time it took Mahomes to march the Chiefs 44 yards to set up a tying field goal as time expired, after which Kansas City won the coin toss and ended the game with a touchdown on the first overtime possession.
On Sunday night, the Bills (12-6) and Chiefs (12-6) will meet in the playoffs for the third time in four years and once again in the divisional round, and the past is the last thing on Allen's mind.
“We don’t need to bring that up,” Allen said Wednesday. “I’m sure people will bring up what I’m afraid of but, nah, I got a lot of respect for him and his game and who he is off the field.”
At least two things have changed since the last Bills-Chiefs playoff meeting.
The Bills’ loss prompted the NFL to change its postseason overtime rules to ensure both teams get a possession.
After having their 2020 and ’21 seasons end at Arrowhead Stadium with playoff losses, it’s the Bills' turn to host the Chiefs in what will be Mahomes’ first playoff road game. It will also mark Mahomes' first time experiencing the full roar of fans at Highmark Stadium. His only other game at Buffalo was played in an empty stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.
“Even though I know it’s going to be hostile and there are going to be people talking trash and everything like that, I’m excited for it because it’s one of the best environments in football,” Mahomes said. “And you want to do that when you grow up watching these games in the best environments and see what it’s like.”
Although the teams had the same record in the regular season, Buffalo won the tiebreaker — and the right to host — with its 20-17 win at Kansas City last month. That was the first of six straight victories for the Bills, including Monday's wild-card round victory over Pittsburgh.
Snow isn’t in the forecast, though cold temperatures are, which shouldn’t affect either team. The Bills are accustomed to the cold, while the Chiefs beat visiting Miami last weekend with a game-time temperature of minus-4 Fahrenheit (minus-20 Celsius) and wind chills that made it feel 20 degrees colder.
The game carries plenty of subplots.
Bills coach Sean McDermott’s first NFL job was on current Chiefs coach Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia in 1999.
“Smart, tough and works hard,” Reid said of McDermott.
And McDermott bears no grudge for Reid’s decision to fire him as the Eagles' defensive coordinator following the 2010 season.
“I think it doubled down on my work ethic,” said McDermott, who then spent six years as Carolina's defensive coordinator before Buffalo hired him in 2017. “In some ways, I’m extremely grateful for it.”
There’s also the familiarity between non-division rivals who have split their past six meetings, including playoffs, since 2020.
“There’s no secrets,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said.
Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver has played at Arrowhead five times over the past four years.
“It’s just like playing a divisional opponent,” Oliver said. “Honestly, I love playing there. But we get them here.”
Wherever the setting, Allen appreciates how difficult it will be to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.
“They’re at the top of the mountain. They know what it takes to get there. We’ve yet to do that,” said Allen, whose lone AFC championship game appearance ended in a 38-24 loss at Kansas City. “As a competitor, to be in a situation like this is something you dream about.”
COOKING WITH RICE
The Chiefs, who led the NFL in dropped passes this season, have turned to Rashee Rice to take some of the attention off tight end Travis Kelce. The rookie receiver responded against Miami by setting franchise records with eight catches for 130 yards. It was the sixth-most yards receiving by a rookie in NFL history.
“I’m going out there just to get a win, first of all,” Rice said, “and everything else just comes with it.”
A Bills defense already missing starting cornerback Tre’Davious White and starting linebacker Matt Milano could be further depleted after four more regulars were hurt against the Steelers. The group includes starting nickelback Taron Johnson (concussion) and starting cornerback Christian Benford (knee).
“No big thing. We’re built for this,” Oliver said. “We can handle this. This is nothing new.”
After converting more than 71% of their red-zone trips into touchdowns last season, the Chiefs managed just 52% this season, putting them in the bottom half of the league. The problems continued against Miami, when the Chiefs went 2 for 6 and settled for four field goals from Harrison Butker.
“It’s probably more complicated than one thing,” Reid said. “We all have a little piece of that. You obviously want to score touchdowns. Love Butker and he’s doing a phenomenal job, but you want to get into the end zone.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.
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