Analysis, Commentary

Gritty Bills Make Chiefs Cry

Featured Photo Credit: © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

As I See It.

These old bones have seen a lot of Bills wins, losses, highs and lows over the years, but the Bills 20-17 win over the KC Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium earns a place of its own in the memory bank.

While the emphasis on NFL officiating has been a focus of many fans and media recently, the perception the Bills are usually on the short end of the whistle tooter’s calls is prevalent among Bills Mafia backers and has been for years.

We can step that back at least in this crazy game that keeps the Bills playoff dream still very much alive.

The Bills caught some breaks. They weren’t given anything, although Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid might beg to differ, but they weren’t victims either for a change.

We’ll get into details, but first a thank you to my sponsors: Atwal Eye Care, the Bills official vision care specialists. They did cataract surgery on both my eyes last summer, and the results were beyond my most optimistic hopes. Amazing.

BluTusk Tech in Orchard Park, which specializes in refurbishing used Mac’s and PC’s, but also offers new products as well at reasonable prices.

And GlobalVendingGroup of Buffalo, which is now part of a world wide program distributing book vending machines to enhance child literacy.

While Bills fans loved the outcome, it reminds me of the time the cameras caught Pats HC Bill Belichick smashing his phone against the bench during a Bills game. You KNOW good things are happening! Ditto after the Bills/Chiefs conclusion. Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid were livid about an offsides call that cost them a possible winning TD. Both were almost in tears. Mahomes smashed his helmet to the ground, and even muttered to Allen after the game “that was the worst call I’ve ever seen”.

But both, as you probably know, were wrong. The NFL is actually cracking down on lining up offsides, and they’ve called it 12 times so far. It’s actually aimed at the “tush push” group shove, that D coaches are complaining gives the offense an edge if they’re over the line of scrimmage.

The week leading up to this game was anything but normal. The Bills were given a week off for their bye week, aimed at getting some mental and physical relief. The physical part was needed, as they came into this game healthy and rested, and a slim 1 1/2 point underdog against the defending Super Bowl Champs. Yes, the Chiefs were still smarting from an unexpected loss at Green Bay, dropping them to 8-4, but they’ve still got some wiggle room.

The Bills, at 6-6, just about have to run the table, and the week leading up to this game wasn’t helpful for the mental process. A potential distraction popped up with the arrest of Bills OLB Von Miller for alleged domestic abuse against his pregnant girlfriend in Dallas. Miller, and now the girlfriend, claim this is overblown, and the Bills and NFL are not suspending Miller until an investigation into the incident is concluded. Miller actually played his best game since returning from an ACL injury over a year ago, but the cloud is still overhead.

But bigger than that, was the oddly timed blogger attack on HC Sean McDermott, citing “anonymous” sources, basically ripping the coach’s character and leadership qualities in what I personally think was disgustingly personal and unfair. The revelation of a four year old story made this story go viral.

Four years ago McDermott, as many coaches often do, tried to explain how teamwork is the key to success by using an anecdote. It was a total fumble. Whiff. McDermott referred to the terrorist attack on 9/11, telling his team this was an example of great teamwork.

The story went over like a maggot infested bowl of rice soup. That bad.

Photo by © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

McDermott quickly apologized to his team, and owner Terry Pegula and GM Brandon Beane were well aware of the incident, which until now had not surfaced publicly.

As usual, the national media picked up the ball and raced for the end zone. Peter King, an NFL observer I’ve always admired, went so far as to suggest McDermott was praising the attackers and should receive punishment of some kind. King made sure to include how he lives in Manhattan and carries scars of that memory with him forever. King wasn’t alone, as several others chimed in with their disgust.


McDermott did the only damage control he could, as he reacted to the story with contrition, becoming emotional as he again apologized publicly and to his team for not using better judgement to illustrate his point.

Bills players and management quickly jumped in to support McDermott. Bills center Mitch Morse even related that he once dealt with severe anxiety issues, and McDermott sat with him before a game and explained how this game was not that big a deal in the overall scheme of life, and Morse said it worked. “I’d do anything for him” Morse said. Josh Allen also spoke up after McDermott had addressed the team, and echoed Morse’s sentiments.

So how would the Bills react to this emotional week?

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Bills showed a great deal of resilience by overcoming both the desperate Chiefs and some self-inflicted wounds. The defense, so maligned for allowing late leads to disappear in four of the Bills six losses, made the plays needed when it mattered.

The Bills came out so focused, it looked like the game might turn into a rout. The Bills deferred the coin toss, and the Chiefs began marching down the field. Already in FG range, DE A.J. Epenesa reached up to deflect a Mahomes pass, and completed the effort by intercepting the ball. A huge play, when the Chiefs looked ready to establish control.

Led by Allen and a bit different game plan from OC Joe Brady, the Bills mixed the run and pass beautifully. Allen hit James Cook over the middle for a 25 yard TD, and Cook, who dropped an early TD pass a couple weeks ago in Philly, grabbed this one in stride and summersaulted into the end zone.

Brady knew the Chiefs would focus on taking away Allen’s legs, and Stefon Diggs, so he included Cook more and it worked. Cook had 58 rushing yards on 10 carries – 5.8 per rush – and added 83 yards and the TD with five catches.

Photo by © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

Diggs was a non factor in this game, other than giving the Chiefs something to worry about. He had 4 catches for 24 yards on 11 targets. The Bills tried quick outside screens, but KC was ready. Diggs also had a couple drops. Gabe Davis again – zero catches. Surprisingly, the Bills didn’t throw downfield much at all. Still, the Bills won the game.

Allen was certainly happy to have TE Dawson Knox back from a wrist injury. He caught all 3 targets for 36 yards, and none of them were easy. Rookie TE Dalton Kincaid wasn’t forgotten, with 5 grabs for 21 yards.

The stats don’t tell the story on Allen at all, IMO. He was 23-42 for 233 yards and a TD and an INT. Allen also scored a TD on an in your face four yard run in traffic where Allen kept his legs moving and his teammates helped push him into the End Zone. Allen now has 25 TD passes and 10 rushing with 14 INTs. The Chiefs ran multiple blitz packages, and Allen usually made quick hot reads or scrambled completions. Once again though, he extended his interception streak, and it came at a terrible time. The Bills were already up 14-0 and driving. They were almost in the red zone when Allen threw a surprisingly casual throw over the middle that was picked by Chamari Conner. So instead of a 17-0 or even 21-0 lead, the Chiefs drove down to a TD to cut the Bills lead to 14-7 at half.

Allen was far from perfect. He took a bad sack on the winning FG drive but was bailed out by a defensive holding penalty. To their credit, the Chiefs took away any up the middle runs or scrambles. Allen also made a couple “Allen specials” to get first downs.

The Bills 327 yards and 20 points weren’t eye popping, but against an outstanding Chiefs D that pressured Allen and the Bills Oline hard, it was enough.

Enough, because the D came through. They kept Mahomes from breaking contain up the middle and forced him into some errant throws. The Chiefs, in all honesty, are not who they were even a year ago offensively. Receivers are dropping passes and worse. Mahomes still has Travis Kelce, and he had 83 yards on 6 catches, but NO TD’s. Mahomes deserved better. He finished 25-43 for 271 with a TD and an INT. But the Bills held Mahomes to only 8 yards rushing on one carry. Is Mahomes being careful? He usually kills the Bills with his legs.

THE play everybody was talking about involved Kelce, who made a swift decision that resulted in the play of the year in the NFL. But it didn’t count. With the Bills clinging to a 20-17 lead with just over a minute to play, it appeared the Chiefs scored an unbelievable TD to take the lead. Here we go again. Another devastating Bills last second loss.

But wait. A flag.

Photo by © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney lined up offside. Not just a couple inches. He was WAY offside and the line judge pulled the flag as the play developed. Kelce caught the ball over the middle, and what was without a doubt an impromptu decision, tossed a lateral across the field to Toney, who scored. Only he didn’t.

The Bills D weathered the storm, and Mahomes and Reid were livid. Reid suggested the officials should have warned Toney. Uh, sorry coach, but that’s not their job. Now in the NFL, CFB and HS football, wide receivers often look to the line judge to check if they’re lined up ok. Happens all the time. The officials will always respond with a quick hand gesture that you’re ok, or better back up.

But the officials are not required to WARN a player. That’s on the player.

Finally, the Bills catch some breaks. And yet, you make your breaks. The Chiefs offense is not what it was, but their D is among the best in football. They’re REALLY tough to beat at Arrowhead, but this is the Bills third straight regular season win in KC. They earned it. Ed Oliver, Epenesa, Greg Rousseau and finally Miller contributed up front. Some younger players also rose to the occassion.

And most of all, the message was clear that McDermott has his detractors, and some of the criticism is warranted, but his team respects him and believes in him. He’s a good man and they know it. He’s smart and works hard, and becoming a great coach takes time. He’s not there yet, but he’s learning. He is the man most responsible for changing the culture of the Bills organization into one that players want to be a part of.

It doesn’t get easier with the impressive Dallas Cowboys in town next Sunday, but the home crowd should help the Bills.

But it’s gonna be a heck of a game!

Again thanks to sponsors Atwal Eye Care, BluTusk Tech and GlobalVendingGroup.

We’ll have a Bills-Cowboys preview later this week.

Editor’s babble: We are so grateful for ‘Gramps’ Kilgore’s contributions to our blog :) You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed and his podcast ‘The Ed Kilgore Show’ wherever you get your podcasts. Happy Holidays! is sponsored by 26 Shirts

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1 thought on “Gritty Bills Make Chiefs Cry”

  1. Enjoy the posts Ed! Here is what I wrote:
    Bills @ Chiefs Game Review

    This game has played out like many others and represents the Bills season perfectly. Here is what I mean

    The use of Running Backs, Cooks, Murray and Johnson in the 1st half of the game was as good as it has been all year. Inside and outside running, and then running wheel pass routes and inside release routes out of the backfield. It made life easier for the O-Line and Josh because it caused coverage mixups and mismatches for the KC Defense. It allowed the Bills to jump out to a 14 point lead and gave balance and control to the offense.

    Now the curious point. I realize the Chiefs made some adjustments, but the threat of the running game was taken off the table in the 2nd half. My question is why? It seemed more than 65-70% of the alignment went with an empty backfield in the 2nd half. As the Chiefs blitzed and caused Allen to scramble around keeping the play alive, it created a problem for the O-Line in pass protection. It caused consistent pressure on Allen in and out of the pass pocket. Now I believe the Bills thought Diggs, Shakir, Davis, Kincaid, Sherfield and even Knox could beat man to man coverage. Well in this game they didn’t, at least not consistently enough to make a big play and score or to force KC out of that man coverage and blitzing. This was especially frustrating to watch with 6 minutes left in the game and the Bills with the Ball. The Bills could have worked the clock with some balanced running, yet they put everything on Josh Allen’s shoulders. Nearing the 2 minute warning the Bills could have forced KC to use timeouts and the Bills could eat clock before and after the 2 minute warning. What they did was throw incompletions and it gave KC and Mahomes 1:56 on the clock to either get a field goal to tie or a TD to win. To me this was a major tactical error and could have and should have cost the Bills the game. The win with many will hide the major error, but I can’t look past it. This must improve and soon or the team won’t make the playoffs or if they do it will be one and done.

    Like many of the games this year the game was decided on the final drive. On the final KC drive the Chiefs scored, but lined up offsides and it cost the Chiefs a winning TD (or at least a potential game winning score). The Chiefs were absolutely enraged, but once they watch the video on the next play Von Miller was offsides on his rush which wasn’t called. That being said, to me the Chiefs are not as buttoned up as they once were. On field mental errors have more to do with the Chiefs lack of normal dominance and that was the same thing that happened to Andy Reid in Philly. The only difference he has the rings in KC!

    Now the outcome of this game could have been different, but for the earlier Murray catch and fumble call. To me it was very questionable even after replay, and the Bills got a few breaks in this game for once!

    To me the Chiefs and Bills almost mirror each other. The difference is I believe the KC coaching is much better at schemes and changing on the fly. I will say KC had success running the ball, and they also went away from that aspect of the game. The only difference was KC had wide open receivers and big play ability on their finger tips but failed to cash in. In this game KC missed on their chances more than Bills did, so the Chiefs only have themselves to blame for the loss. It was a huge victory for the Bills, but they can’t rest on this success if they want to make the playoffs!

    Offensive game performance:
    1 Josh Allen is this team’s life raft. Did he throw a pick that should never have been attempted? Yes! Based on what he did and how he avoided the rush, made throws and ran the ball I will not even address that pass. He did things that nobody in the NFL can do. If the Bills are honest when the draft comes around they will add more speed and size to the WR position, so guys can get free faster for Allen and the O-Line.
    2 Cook, Murray and Johnson have been solid and Cook is becoming a playmaker as a runner and receiver. Let’s stay with the running game and not abandon it in the second half!
    3 Gabe Davis 1 pass and 1 drop? He is a good blocker, so to me run a two TE offense and use Kincaid as his replacement at WR. If you want him to chip, motion him into to line or line up as the FB. Stef Diggs must stop the drops on quick passes. To me this is an indication he is starting to loose some of his abilities. Concentration goes, then quickness and speed. He was drawing man coverage and could not shake the coverage. Time to line him up coming out of the backfield and continue motion so he doesn’t have to fight getting off the line versus man coverage.
    4 The O-Line when the Bills don’t tip off the pass (empty backfield) has been very good. Yes from time to time they get beat, but they have been consistently good when the play calling has been balanced!
    5 Kincaid is an All Pro and if Knox can remain consistent it is a very good unit! The use of Morris and Gilliam in spot duty makes this a deeper unit and gives them flexibility. (Run/pass)

    Let’s talk Defense:

    1 D-Line applied pressure early. KC was able to establish the run, but because the Chiefs went away from it their offense suffered. That is a concern and must be watched especially against Dallas. Oliver, Epenesa, Settle, Rousseau, Phillips and Joseph stood out. Huge plays by Epenesa (before injury which is a concern)and Oliver were difference makers. There were times I thought Phillips took plays off, and Rousseau was asked to cover a RB out of the backfield which worked but I question! Miller started to have somewhat of an impact in this game and hopefully his play will improve more and more each game.
    2 The LB’s produced in zone coverage and made plays when needed. Dotson threw his body around to make plays versus the run. This was probably his best game of the year. Bernard is always around the ball. I am shocked the Chiefs didn’t use their backs more in the passing game against our linebackers.
    3 DB play was solid early, but the KC receivers started to get free and wide open too many times late. The man to man coverage of Rasul Douglas on Kelce was a great call by McDermott. He frustrated Kelce and you could see it impacted his concentration. In the second half Buffalo went with a zone triangle coverage on Kelce, which allowed him to adjust his routes and run free. Why did the Bills change and what did KC do to force Buffalo to change? When this happened it also caused Benford to either play man on Rice or get safety help to double him, which didn’t work. Rice got free in the end zone and over the middle because his quickness and cuts were too quick for both players. It is my opinion Micah Hyde’s days are over. He can’t make plays and when he does he gets hurt. The play of Poyer is suffering too because he is a day late and a dollar short when it is time to make a tackle or breakup a pass. Taylor Rapp is late to the dance and often times when he makes a hit it is on one of our own players making a tackle and causes injuries.

    Special Teams:
    1 Bass has seemed to settle down on the field goal attempts. I think the coaches need to regain their confidence in him from long distances.
    2 Punting and coverage will again cost us more games. The Chiefs returned a 40 yard punt 25 yards. The field is being flipped way too many times! The game against Dallas will be extremely dangerous for the Bills because the Cowboys SPT Unit can break the game open. The punt block unit for Dallas can also flip the game in the Cowboys favor.

    Final Comments:
    The Bills have a chance to win the remaining games, but this is the game I fear the most. This is the team that the game could get away from Buffalo. The Cowboys offensive speed and O-Line size could be the ultimate mismatch for our DB’s and D-Line. The Cowboys on Defense play man and bring pressure which will be difficult for Buffalo to handle. Buffalo’s lack of a screen game makes this situation even worse. The most successful offensive play against a high pressure, man to man cover team is the screen. A team that can run a screen can gouge the defense. The screens I speak of is not the quick WR screen, it’s screens to the RB’s and TE’s especially over the middle. Unfortunately these are the screens that Buffalo never runs, but if they do I am sure it could break the game wide open.

    Josh Allen’s legs will be even more important if Dallas doesn’t assign a spy to him and if he can get by the first wave of the Dallas rush! This is also the game I fear most for Josh’s health. Players with speed and power coming from all directions and coverage that causes him to hold the ball longer if our receivers don’t separate from man coverage.

    Will Dallas play down because of a big win against Philly? I will remind people the Bills just finished with a big win against KC and they are playing an NFC team, they might not be as sharp too! It is still a must win and they must sweep all remaining games, because the way things are falling they might not get invited to the dance if they don’t.

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