The Buffalo Bills, fresh off of a bye week, were looking to “Shake It Off” after a crushing OT loss in Philly. The Bills know the Chiefs “All Too Well”, winning their last two regular season matchups in Kansas City, but losing both playoff matchups versus the Chiefs. Buffalo would need a win in order to keep pace with the other wild card contenders in the AFC.
The Bills deferred the opening kickoff, giving Patrick Mahomes the ball to start the game. He completed a pass to Travis Kelce for seven yards, then found Kadarius Toney for gains of nine and 14 to reach midfield. From Buffalo’s 30 yard line, Mahomes had his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage by AJ Epenesa, who was able to intercept the ball for a quick turnover.
The Bills gained just one first down on a 12 yard run from James Cook, then punted back to KC. Back to back runs from Clyde Edwards-Helaire gave the Chiefs 15 yards, but their drive stalled when Greg Rousseau and Ed Oliver combined for a sack on 3rd down to force a punt.
Joe Brady – “Mastermind”
The Bills finally broke the scoring drought with a six play, 53 yard drive. Allen ran twice for 12 yards, and connected with Dawson Knox for a gain of 11 to move to KC’s 30 yard line. On 2nd and 8, Allen found Cook wide open downfield on a vertical route for a 25 yard touchdown. The play design from Brady exploited KC’s secondary, and took advantage of Cook’s speed and pass catching ability.
“Two Is Better Than One”
Buffalo forced a three and out to give the ball back to Allen. Cook ran for 12 yards to move the chains, and caught a 27 yard pass along the sideline to move into KC territory as the first quarter ended. Ty Johnson also picked up 11 yards on two carries.
Allen’s rushing attempt was stopped a yard short on 3rd and 6, but the Bills kept the offense on the field for 4th and 1. Allen lined up under center, with most assuming the Bills would try the Tush Push or Brotherly Shove, “Call It What You Want”. Instead, Brady called a play-action pass, a much riskier decision. Were the Chiefs “Ready For It?”. It didn’t seem to matter. Allen rolled right, hesitated, and found Dalton Kincaid for a four yard gain to extend the drive. Two plays later, Allen showed why he’s “The Man”, keeping his legs churning on a QB draw for a six yard rushing touchdown.
“I Did Something Bad”
The Bills defense came up with another big stop, even after Mahomes showed off his wizardry. On 3rd and 18, Mahomes threw a prayer to Kelce that was caught for a 23 yard gain. An 18 yard pass to Justin Watson moved the Chiefs into Buffalo territory. However, the Chiefs wouldn’t be able to gain another first down, opting to punt on 4th and 12 from Buffalo’s 39 yard line.
Then came time for Allen’s weekly interception. Trying to extend the play and be “Superman”, he forced a throw over the middle to Trent Sherfield. Instead, the pass was jumped and intercepted by Chamarri Conner. Yards, points, and momentum, it felt like “Everything Has Changed” after the turnover.
“Blank Space” –> “Seven”
The Chiefs were able to get on the scoreboard thanks to the Allen turnover. A holding penalty backed them up 10 yards, but a completion of 17 to rookie Rashee Rice made it 2nd and manageable. Several plays later, running back Jerick McKinnon ran up the middle, following his blocks for the score. The extra point from Butker made it 14–7.
“I Wish You Would” Try With Bass
The Bills had 1:19, but no timeouts, to try to get points before the half. Rather than attempt a 61 yard field goal with Tyler Bass, Allen threw a Hail Mary into the endzone that fell incomplete.
“This Is Me Trying”
Buffalo wouldn’t find the endzone in the entire second half, settling for two Bass field goals to add to their lead. The first came on the opening drive of the second half, which was led by James Cook on the ground. The second-year running back ran for 35 total yards, while Allen connected with Knox and Shakir for 12 yards each to move into the “Red” zone. The drive stalled after a 10 yard holding penalty, and Bass drilled a 31 yarder to give Buffalo a two possession lead.
“I Knew You Were Trouble”
The Bills defense could only contain number “Fifteen” for so long. Mahomes led a nine play, 75 yard drive to bring his team within three points. A 15 yard completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling started the drive, and passes of 11 and 22 to Kelce moved them into scoring range. Mahomes found Rice in the back of the endzone for a four yard score.
Buffalo went three-and-out, but the Chiefs would soon give the ball back to Buffalo. On 2nd and 10, Mahomes found Rice for a gain of six yards. Christian Benford, while tackling Rice, made a textbook punch-out move to jar the ball loose. Taron Johnson recovered the fumble. Unfortunately, the Bills went three-and-out again, with number “22” Trent McDuffie sacking Allen on 3rd and 10.
“This Is What You Came For”
The Chiefs tied the game thanks to a 27 yard field goal from Butker. A 25 yard punt return by Richie James and 20 yard catch and run by CEH quickly moved the Chiefs into scoring range. Consecutive incomplete passes by Mahomes stalled the drive, and KC settled for three. A tie game with 11:33 left to play between two elite QBs, this game was shaping up to be another classic matchup between Allen and Mahomes.
Facing 3rd and 9, in jeopardy of another three-and-out, Allen rolled left to avoid pressure, and nearly stepped out of bounds before his pass attempt. With both cleats barely in bounds, it looked like Allen’s pass to Latavius Murray was on an “Invisible String”. The running back (barely) secured the catch before fumbling out of bounds. A long review by the referees concluded that Murray did establish control before fumbling, and then the ball bounced out of bounds before either team could recover it. So “Long Story Short”, the play went down as a 21 yard gain.
Two holding penalties on Buffalo and a sack from KC forced a punt several plays later, leaving Allen’s heroics worthless. A KC three-and-out gave the Bills another chance to take the lead, with half of the fourth quarter now gone.
“The Last Time”
Allen would lead a 13 play drive to set up a 39 yard Bass field goal for the lead. On the drive, Allen found Deonte Harty downfield for a gain of 25 yards. A healthy inactive against the Eagles, he recorded just his 14th catch of the year. The Bills rarely used him as a deep threat despite his speed, leaving many to realize “I Forgot That You Existed” before the big play.
Buffalo began chewing the clock, but a drop by Stefon Diggs prevented the time from dropping to the two-minute warning. The first play after the eventual stoppage, Bass kicked the go-ahead field goal. The Bills weren’t “Out Of The Woods” just yet, needing a big defensive stop against Patrick Mahomes of all people.
Allen would leave the field with the lead, but could his defense get a stop when they needed it most? It’s seemed like a pattern this season, with the game in KC being “Nothing New”. Mahomes quickly moved to midfield with a 19 yard toss to Rice.
Mahomes found Kelce wide open downfield, who evaded two defenders before throwing a lateral to Toney, walking into the endzone for the score. It was an incredible play to take the lead….except Toney lined up offside when the ball was snapped, nullifying the score. A play that Toney will surely be “Haunted” by, KC now faced 3rd and 15 at their own 46.
The 3rd down pass was tipped by Oliver at the line of scrimmage, leaving KC with one play to keep the game alive. The 4th down pass from Mahomes fell incomplete. Bills players scanned the field for any flags, “Is It Over Now?”. With no yellow in sight, the Bills had won.
“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve”
After the game, Head Coach Andy Reid, Mahomes, and several other Chiefs players clearly had “Bad Blood” with the referees, but the penalty on Toney was the correct call. Mahomes was seen yelling at the referees, and bringing up the flag with Allen during the post-game handshake. Allen should’ve told Mahomes, “You Need to Calm Down”, but instead jogged to the locker room to celebrate. The Chiefs (coaches, players, and fans) complaining about the refs is certainly “Karma” considering how many calls go their way every week, many times being major reasons why the Chiefs win games.
It wasn’t a perfect game for the Bills, with time management questions still being raised around the two minute warning. Still, a win is a win, and improving to 7–6 was critical for Buffalo’s playoff chances. Holding a Reid/Mahomes offense to 17 points is an incredible feat, so props to the defense. The Bills defense forced two turnovers, but the offense couldn’t score points off of either one.
The wide receivers had a quiet game, with most of the passing looks going to running backs or tight ends. Diggs finished with just four catches (on 11 targets!) for 24 yards, while Davis was held without a catch. Shakir caught one pass, a screen, for 12 yards. The biggest play came from Harty. Although there is still plenty of room for improvement, the Bills did enough to stay alive in the playoff race for at least another week.
Offensive Player of the Game: James Cook
Cook finished with 10 carries for 58 yards, along with five catches on five targets for 83 yards and a score. This was exactly the type of performance you want to see from your “pass catching running back”. Cook seemed to be one of the few players giving the offense juice during rough patches in the game, adding another great game to his ‘breakout’ season.
Defensive Player of the Game: Taron Johnson
The nickel corner made several exceptional open-field tackles, finishing the day with nine total tackles, a pass defended, and a fumble recovery. He has continuously shown how pivotal he is to this defense, and his argument for ‘best nickel corner in the NFL’ certainly looks justifiable after his most recent performance.
MVP: Josh Allen
It wasn’t an extremely impressive performance from Allen, but he got off to a fast start, and came in clutch when the team needed him late. He finished the day with 233 yards and one touchdown through the air (along with an INT), and 10 carries for 32 yards and a score on the ground. Despite not getting much love, Allen absolutely deserves to be in the MVP conversation this season, and a playoff run to cap off the regular season could be what it takes to have QB1 bring home the hardware.
What’s Next: “Cowboy Like Me” Bills vs Cowboys 12/17
Buffalo hosts the red-hot Dallas Cowboys. The Bills can afford to lose exactly one more game, and ideally, if necessary, it would be to the only remaining NFC opponent on the schedule. Regardless, a win would do wonders for Buffalo’s playoff chances, as the Bills face maybe the best team they’ve seen all year.
Editor’s babble: Buffalo Bills karma games are difficult for oldies like myself to simply survive. I’m certain if I was hooked up to a monitor, my blood pressure was at stroke zone for most of that game. Just WOW. Many thanks for Colin Richey’s contributions to our blog. You can also find Colin on Xwitter @whatthef00tball.