Analysis, Commentary

Almost Perfect Not Enough for Bills

Featured Photo Credit: © Tina MacIntyre-Yee /Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

As I See It.

It’s over for the Bills.

No, not “over over” as in the Super Bowl window has closed, but over as in a roller coaster season is over.

The Bills, and especially Josh Allen, put together a brilliant game plan against a Chief’s team we thought might be vulnerable, but in the end, the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes shrugged off the Bills Mafia crowd and moved to the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens with a 27-24 win at Highmark Stadium.

Interestingly, the Ravens are only a 3 1/2 point home favorite against the Chiefs, who came into Orchard Park as 3 point underdogs to the Bills. This just reinforces how close the Bills were to getting over the KC hump: the oddsmakers think the Ravens are worth a half point more than the Bills.

Right here I’d like to mention my sponsors: Atwal Eye Care, which did an amazing job with cataract surgery for both my eyes recently. 

BluTusk Tech of Orchard Park for all your computer needs.

And GlobalVendingGroup of Buffalo, which is installing book vending machines all over the world to help child literacy.

Back to the game.

The variety of reactions to the Bills loss, which was punctuated by Tyler Bass missing a 44 yard tying field goal, are priceless. Oh, and the painful irony that the kick went wide right. Never mind the wind gave it a helpful push. Instead of a 27-27 game, even though KC had enough time to respond with a game winner, it was over.

Some fans, incredibly to me, are putting some of the blame for the loss on Allen. It was Allen who gave the Bills a great chance to win, as he followed OC Joe Brady’s plan perfectly. The Chiefs were not going to let Allen throw downfield, and Brady responded with a short passing and running game that was the most effective showing against a stout KC defense for any team all season long. The Bills put together several long drives and dominated time of possession 37 minutes to 23. Allen had no interceptions, threw for 186 yards and an incredible TD pass, ran for two TD’s and 72 yards and wasn’t sacked. The Bills actually outgained the Chiefs 368-361.

Photo by © Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

But Mahomes, to his credit, didn’t blink in his first playoff game away from home. He passed for only 215 yards, but had two TD passes with no sacks and no INTs. The Bills injury depleted linebacking corps simply couldn’t cover Travis Kelce, who caught both TDs. The Bills D line was not able to put any pressure on Mahomes, and we all know what that means. If you start blitzing, he kills you. If you don’t. he kills you. The Bills D also had trouble with hard charging RB Isiah Pacheco, and his 97 yards on 15 carries allowed the Chiefs to win an area the Bills thought they might win with James Cook. Cook started quickly, but the Chiefs then clamped down and held him to 61 yards and a 3.4 average. Pacheco really took the pressure off Mahomes, while Allen basically had to do it all himself.

He almost pulled it off. Anybody that nit picks Allen’s performance, IMO, didn’t see the game.

While Allen wasn’t perfect – he did fumble once but luckily the Bills recovered – he resisted the “hero ball” his detractors accuse him of. But he could have used some help. Khalil Shakir was terrific, and the TD he caught from a scrambling Allen in the 3rd quarter was amazing. From the 13, Allen was forced left, and waiting until the last moment, he threw across his body to hit Shakir near the pylon. Rookie TE Dalton Kincaid chipped in with 5 catches for 45 yards, but Stefon Diggs was barely a factor. Allen eventually did uncork a couple bombs, and even though both were thrown perfectly, Trent Sherfield and later Diggs couldn’t finish. Allen threw the ball 64 yards in the air on the Diggs play in the 4th quarter, and put it exactly where it needed to be. Diggs dropped it. Yes, a catch would have been a great one, but that’s why he’s getting the big bucks. Diggs had 3 catches for 21 yards, no TDs and fumbled once. He didn’t bother to talk to the media after the game, which is no big surprise. Von Miller, who actually made a couple nice plays, also went AWOL. These are your leaders? Even Bass was accountable and accepted blame for the miss.

I guess the Bills current status depends on whether or not you’re a glass half full or half empty person.

My view is that the Bills SB window is very much alive with Allen turning 28 next season. The Bills are still an elite team when healthy, which is a problem most teams deal with. Sean McDermott has brought this group to the brink of a championship by keeping the culture intact. He’s made mistakes. A fake punt on 4th and 5 from their own 30 in the 4th quarter was a disaster. The Chiefs only had 10 players on the field, and McDermott called for Damar Hamlin to take a direct snap with a blocking numbers advantage. But the play was stuffed.

Fans are quick to call out the stupidity of the play because it didn’t work. Want your coach to be aggressive? It didn’t work. But the big picture to me, is what happens next. GM Brandon Beane will be extremely busy in the offseason. Will Diggs still be the priority #1 receiver at 30? Fair questions. Von Miller? Gabe Davis. Both safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are in their 30’s.

The Dline has been a priority in recent drafts, yet a year ago against Joe Burrow and the Bengals and now with Mahomes and KC, they just didn’t get it done. The Bills only had one sack in two playoff games.

The obvious need offensively, is to add a true #2 receiver that may even be a one. They can probably get that early in the draft, although some free agents may become available. Cap space is a real issue, but Beane has been a marvelous manipulator in that area.

Final conclusion: this is a very, very good Bills team, especially with Allen to build around. The Chiefs turned their defense around in one draft, and the Bills could too. McDermott, considering the injuries, did an outstanding job doubling as the DC, and there’s no doubt in my mind OC Joe Brady will have the interim tag removed.

Going from 6-6 to 11-6 and a playoff win and tight loss to the defending SB champs is something to build on, and not tear apart. The core group is here, and management and coaching staff are in place.

It stings now, but the Bills are far from finished.

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

Editor’s babble: We thank Ed Kilgore for his terrific posts throughout the season. You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed. is sponsored by 26 Shirts

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