The Buffalo Bills had been aggressive all season long.
They pushed the ball down the field, attacked opposing secondary’s, and they took every advantage they could to score. But, when it came down to it on Sunday night in the AFC Championship, the Bills abandoned their aggressive mindset in a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
After the Bills took a 9-0 lead early in the game, the Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points before halftime and they never looked back. But, just before halftime, quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense stitched together a 12-play 73-yard drive that took up the final four minutes of the second quarter
With 11 seconds remaining, the Bills faced a 4th and Goal on Kansas City’s two-yard line, but rather than go for a touchdown McDermott elected to get points and kicked a field goal, which was rookie kicker Tyler Bass’ second of the game.
“I wanted to get points,” McDermott said during a post-game video conference call. “We were having trouble coming up with points, and I wanted to at least have something to show for it going into the half, especially knowing they were getting the ball after half.”
Just like Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur did earlier in the day for deciding to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down, McDermott was highly criticized for deciding not to go for the touchdown.
Then, partway through the end of the third quarter, the Bills faced the exact same situation as they put together a 10 play, 67-yard drive and found themselves on Kansas City’s 8-yard line in a 4th and 3 situation. But, while trailing by 12 points, McDermott once again elected to kick a field goal.
After the game, McDermott said if he had the opportunity to do it again, he probably would’ve gone for at least one of them.
“Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would have went for maybe one of them,” McDermott said during his post-game video conference call.
In the end, McDermott’s decision might’ve cost the Bills their chance to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1993 season, but a lot of other things contributed to the loss as well.
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Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill Exploded for the Chiefs
The Bills tried everything they could. They played a soft zone to take away the explosive plays. They switched to man for a short period of time, but couldn’t quite contain Kansas City’s offense that way either.
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill finished the game with nine receptions for 172 yards and broke off a 71-yard pitch and catch in the middle of the third quarter. Tight end Travis Kelce ended up torching the Bills defense for 118 yards and three touchdowns on 13 catches.
“They’ve got guys on the outside 87 (Kelce) and 10 (Hill) who can kill you,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said during his post-game video conference call. “You saw tonight, 87 was open, 10 was just catching these little short balls or whatever and going off. It was difficult. They’re a difficult team to play. We feel like we came in with a good game plan and then we just couldn’t stop the bleeding once they started going. And obviously, this deep into the season, it’s unfortunate.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes finished the game with 325 yards and three touchdowns while running back Darrel Williams ran for 52 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
This Was Buffalo’s Measuring Stick
Like every team that takes the field, the Bills wanted to be in the Super Bowl, but this was ultimately the test of whether or not they truly had what it takes because, at this point, the road to the Super Bowl runs through Kansas City. Now, the Bills know what they have to accomplish coming into next season.
“At the end of the day, this is our measuring stick,” McDermott said during his post-game video conference call. “If you lose in the AFC Championship Game, that’s the team we’ve got to beat.”
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