Chiefs ‘Swiped’ Key Red Zone Play From Bills in Super Bowl 57: Analyst

Andy Reid

Getty Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills were once again stuck watching the Super Bowl instead of participating in the championship game this year, but as the nation watched quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs narrowly defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35, veteran players might’ve recognized a key red zone play utilized not once, but twice by their AFC rival.

The Kansas City Star reporter Jesse Newell reported on Monday, February 13, that the Super Bowl 57 champions “swiped” a route Bills quarterback Josh Allen used to connect with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for a nine-yard touchdown against the Chiefs in Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season — a game Buffalo won 38-20.

Emmanuel Sanders 2nd TD – Bills vs. Chiefs, 10/10/21Follow on Twitter – @BuffaloArchives – for updates and more information Emmanuel Sanders catches an 8 yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen2021-10-11T05:41:56Z

“If only they knew then,” Newell wrote. “The moment would help the Bills secure a victory that night, but it also would start a Butterfly Effect that propelled 16 months into the future… The unique play design — the one that caught the Chiefs defense by surprise — was the same one KC used to expose the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. Meaning the Chiefs have one of their biggest AFC rivals partly to thank for a 38-35 victory in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium.”


Newell mentions, “The portion of the Bills’ red-zone play that intrigued the Chiefs’ coaches most was the motion from receiver Isaiah McKenzie. He started to come across the formation ahead of the snap before stopping and reversing course, putting stress on defenders to that side of the field…. On this play, KC’s defenders couldn’t get it all covered. McKenzie’s drag route drew defenders to open Sanders for a corner route.”

The Chiefs started practicing on what they call the “Corn Dog Shuttle” in training camp. “We knew we were onto something, because our defense had a tough time, and we’re running the same play over and over again,” Chiefs receivers coach Joe Bleymaier said. “And in training camp, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it — we had seven different wide receivers do it — and everybody’s getting open. ‘Man, this thing’s sweet.'”

The Chiefs Scored 2 Touchdowns Using the Bills’ Inspired Offensive Play Call

Because the Eagles leaned on man coverage in the red zone, the Chiefs knew the “Corn Dog Shuttle” would work on Sunday, and head coach Andy Reid called the play early in the fourth quarter, which led to a Kadarius Toney touchdown. “It all worked out perfect,” Bleymaier said.

Kansas City used another variation of that play, known as the “Tent,” which uses a similar return motion but with different routes and players, which the Chiefs successfully ran on their very next trip to the end zone, which led to Mahomes finding Skyy Moore for a wide-open score.

“KC had won a world championship thanks to an offensive blueprint going exactly to plan,” Newell concluded. “With help from an unexpected source: one of the Chiefs’ top adversaries.”

Brian Daboll was the Bills’ Offensive Coordinator in 2021

Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff were praised for putting on “a masterclass of play design” during Super Bowl 57, and the red-zone route swiped from the Bills was taken from when Brian Daboll was the team’s offensive coordinator, who went on to win the AP’s 2022 Head Coach of the Year award after his first season leading the New York Giants.

WROC-TV‘s Thad Brown tweeted, “How talented a coach is Brian Daboll? In the same season he won coach of the year for the Giants… He won a Super Bowl for the Chiefs.”


One of the biggest criticisms of the Bills following their 27-10 collapse to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional round was the lack of creative playcalling from offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, whose only discernable game plan seemed to be just hoping Allen went into full superhero mode to snatch the win.

However, the Bills early exit from the playoffs can’t squarely be placed on Dosrey’s shoulders. The entire team on both sides of the ball appeared to fall flat and the offensive line’s inability to protect Allen was never more obvious.

Dorsey was Allen’s top pick to take over after Daboll left and the 26-year-old superstar made it clear he’s standing by the first-year coordinator’s side during his end-of-year press conference. Bills general manager Brandon Beane also strongly insinuated there would be no changeup from Dorsey as offensive coordinator, or from Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator.

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