Bills fights valiantly in another playoff loss at Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
Josh Allen walked off the pitch inside Arrowhead Stadium a year ago, juggling the disappointment of an AFC tileset loss to the Chiefs with a deep sense of optimism about the future. future of his promising Buffalo Bills.
There was nothing but overwhelming grief on Sunday night.
Allen and Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes dueled all night in a playoff game that will go down in history, leading their teams to a combined 25 points in the final 2 minutes of regulation. But it was Mahomes who delivered the knockout blow with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in overtime, lifting the Chiefs to a 42-36 victory.
The Chiefs were heading into their fourth straight AFC title game, this time against the Bengals next Sunday.
The Bills returned to Buffalo with a ninth straight road playoff loss.
“Pat played amazing. I have a lot of respect for him and the Chiefs as a whole. They made a game more than us; that’s what it was,” Allen said. “But I’m proud of our guys, the way we fought, the way we fought, the way we did and persevered on certain things throughout this game and throughout the season. Obviously it hurts.
“You don’t like to feel like that, especially consecutive years in the same place.”
The way the game played made it downright atrocious.
The Bills led 23-14 in a heavyweight slugfest before finally mounting a second-half comeback, and Allen thought he had finished it when he found Gabriel Davis for the go-ahead score with just under 2. minutes to play in regulation.
The top-ranked defense in the league would surely hold on from there.
It turned out to be just the start of a chaotic finish: Mahomes threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to regain the lead, Allen responded with a playoff-record fourth TD pass to Davis to give it back to Buffalo with 13 seconds to go, and the Chiefs managed to give Harrison Butker a chance to hit a 49-yarder to send the game into overtime.
What was going through Allen’s head with 13 ticks on the clock?
“I think it’s Pat Mahomes on the other side,” Allen replied.
The way the game went, it was as if the team that won the overtime toss would win the game. And when Allen called tails and the stadium lights flashed heads, the game was out of his hands.
Mahomes led his team quickly down the field, hitting Kelce in the end zone and sparking a wild celebration on the pitch.
“It’s just going to leave a bad taste in our mouths,” said Davis, who had eight catches for 201 yards with all four touchdowns. “I know it’s going to be something I’ll think about until next season starts again, because there’s still going to be games, and the Super Bowl is going to be played, and you’re going to see it on TV and know that you would have must have been in that position. So there are definitely going to be people with a chip on their shoulder.
Nothing more than the one under the center.
Allen was 27 of 37 for 329 passing yards and four touchdowns without an interception, and he led the Bills with 68 rushing yards. No other player in NFL history had passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns, completed 70% of his throws, and led his team with at least 65 rushing yards.
Except, well… Mahomes did too.
“We have to keep working to beat him,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Give him credit. He made a few plays on the stretch and had a great game. That’s what great players do: they make great plays in great moments of great games, and he made great plays. But again, I’m proud of how the guys fought. They fought.”
For a franchise that has already lost four straight Super Bowls, that just wasn’t enough.
“You leave the field and you realize that you will not have the same list every year, coaches included. Many of us have been together for five years. It may not be,” Bills security Micah Hyde said. “It’s beyond football. We really are like brothers. We celebrated, we cried together, we laughed together throughout the years. And once something like that happens, it’s a hard way out. It’s hard.”
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