The Buffalo Bills squandered every opportunity they had to improve to a 6-3 record on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. An incredible defensive performance led by Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams generated 23 pressures (7 combined sacks, 4 QB hits, 12 hurries) on Alex Smith’s 27 pass attempts, while holding their own for the majority of the game against the Chiefs’ vaunted rushing attack.
The offense averaged over five yards-per-carry on the ground and Kyle Orton threw for 259 yards without an interception. On the surface, this was a game that the Bills should’ve won convincingly, but a series of speed-bumps; from fumbles, to drops, to questionable coaching decisions; caused the Bills to lose in heartbreaking fashion.
Sunday’s loss at the hands of Kansas City was eerily similar to last year’s defeat. Last year, up 10-3 in the third quarter, the Bills were on the Chiefs’ goalline looking to score, but a pick-six by Jeff Tuel swung the momentum in Kansas City’s favor. Yesterday, up 10-3 in the third quarter with Buffalo looking to score, a Bryce Brown fumble rolled out of the endzone, giving the Chiefs the ball on their 20 and taking away a huge opportunity.
Now, the Bills are still hovering over the .500 mark with seven weeks remaining in the year, so the playoffs aren’t mathematically out of the picture. However, it’s hard to see a team that consistently plays to not lose, rather than going out and ensuring a victory, make a serious push at the playoffs.
For the Buffalo Bills, these next three weeks (@MIA, vs. CLE, vs. NYJ) will not only determine whether they’ll be in playoff contention, but it will also show us whether these are “the same ole’ Bills.” For the last 10 years of Bills football, we’ve seen hot starts run into a disappointing loss that signals a downward spiral to finish the season.
We as fans were probably too optimistic predicting a 10+ win season, but it’s still possible. The Bills’ defense is good enough to keep them in games that they probably have no business being in (see: Lions, Detroit) but questionable situational decisions and costly turnovers continue to be this team’s Achilles Heel.
In order for the Bills to show that they aren’t the “same ole Bills” we’ve grown to know since 1999, they need to come out on Thursday in Miami with the same fire and energy as they did for the opening half of the Chiefs game. They can’t let the loss to Kansas City be the excuse for another 6-10 or 7-9 finish.
While Doug Marrone definitely is deserving of receiving some blame for his team’s loss as a result of questionable decision-making, the players are equally deserving of receiving criticism for their mishaps. But when you look at the big picture, the Bills are as competitive as they’ve been in years, and if recent history has shown anything, the teams that get hot during the second half of the year are the ones who typically find themselves in the tournament.
So, while this loss was definitely a punch in the stomach, there are still 224 games of NFL football that need to be played. The Bills are on the outside looking in at the moment, but a lot can happen in seven weeks.