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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from the Bills vs. Chiefs | AFC Divisional Round


The Bills' season came to a heartbreaking end Sunday night with a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round. Buffalo finishes the 2023-24 season with a 12-7 record as they head to the offseason.

Here's what we learned from the Bills' latest playoff loss:

1 — Buffalo's 4th quarter miscues 

During their six-game win streak, the Bills rose to the occasion several times in the fourth quarter, including earlier this year in Kansas City. It was only fitting that their season once again came down to fourth quarter execution, only this time things didn't go their way.

In the early stages of the fourth quarter, the Bills squandered their lead and couldn't convert a fake punt within a two-minute span. Then, with the game on the line at the two minute warning, the Bills didn't gain a yard on their final two plays and missed a game-tying field goal. 

"Sucks. Losing sucks. Losing to them, losing to anybody at home sucks," QB Josh Allen said.

The Bills went into the fourth quarter holding a 24-20 lead but the Chiefs were driving in the red zone. Patrick Mahomes found WR Rashee Rice for an 8-yard gain, then RB Isiah Pacheco punched it in from 4 yards out to take a 27-24 lead. 

Buffalo got the ball back and went three-and-out. Head coach Sean McDermott opted to be aggressive on 4th and 5 — just in a surprising way. The Bills ran a fake punt from their own 30-yard line and were stuffed several yards short for a turnover on downs.

"I just felt like we were having a hard time stopping (Kansas City)," McDermott said. They were up three at the time I believe it was and wanted to be aggressive. You only get one chance. Obviously, it didn't work, but it's a decision I made and you live with it."

McDermott said he thought about leaving the offense out to pick it up, but felt a fake had a better chance to succeed.

"It's just where we were on the field in relation to the elements of surprise in that situation. Obviously, we didn't execute. We didn't get it done there. But just going to be aggressive," he said.

The Bills luckily got the ball back on a wild sequence where Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman fumbled the ball through the end zone, though both teams traded punts after that.

Still trailing 24-20 with 8:23 to play, Allen and the offense went on a clock-chewing drive and worked the ball all the way to the KC 27 yard line at the two minute warning. On a second down play, Allen was pressured and threw to the end zone to Khalil Shakir, but the ball landed in front of the feet of the wide receiver.

"I wanted to go there. I didn't have great pocket movement. Just couldn't get into the throw," Allen said.

After another incompletion that Allen was pressured on, the Bills opted for a 44-yard field goal to potentially tie the game. Instead, Tyler Bass' field goal sailed wide right. The Chiefs got a first down two plays later and iced the game.

Allen said he feels for Bass in that moment because the offense should have been able to score a touchdown.

"We got to be there for him because again, we execute a couple of plays prior, probably singing a different tune right now," he said.

Bass said the missed kick ultimately falls on him in that situation. It was Bass' third miss of the postseason.

"It's completely on me," he said. "I've got to do a better job of getting through to my target. I've got to do a better job of playing it a little bit more left when you have a left to right (wind). I've been here long enough to know that you have to do that."

The Bills' final three offensive drives of the game (all in 4Q) : turnover on downs, punt, missed FG.

2 — KC finds weakness in Bills' defense

It was a tough night for the Buffalo defense as it surrendered an average of 7.7 yards per play to a Chiefs unit that came in averaging 5.7 YPP. The Bills didn't record a sack and had just two tackles for a loss.

McDermott said postgame that he didn't do enough as the head coach and defensive play caller to put the defense in the best position to success against Mahomes and their offense

"It starts with me and I take full responsibility. That's how I feel about it. That's how I feel about it 100%. We didn't do enough to win the game," he said.

The Chiefs found vulnerabilities in the Bills depleted defense, attacking the middle of the field, particularly on Travis Kelce's first touchdown which came in the second quarter. On the ground, Kansas City was able to generate explosive runs and had seven rushes for 8 yards or more.

Mahomes also had success throwing downfield as he completed three of his deep passes for 84 yards, his most deep completions in a game this season.

Those chunk gains through the air and on the ground kept the Chiefs from facing many third downs. They ran just five third down plays, compared to 14 by the Bills.

"I just think overall, when we were able to get them into a third down, we were able to win those situations, but we couldn't get them into third down enough," McDermott said.

He added: "Just, usually starts up front and the line of scrimmage and I didn't think we did enough there. And then because of that it starts - it becomes a two dimensional game where they're winning too many first downs, staying on schedule, in particular in the run game, and then you're having to defend the run and the pass at the same time, which gets difficult."

3 — Allen gives heroic effort despite loss

Josh Allen played about as well as any quarterback could play in a losing effort. The Bills QB threw for 189 yards, completed 26 of 39 passes (67%), added 72 yards on the ground and accounted for all of Buffalo's touchdowns (two rush, one pass).

With two first half rushing touchdowns, Allen moved into second place all time for most rushing yards by a quarterback in playoff history (563).

Buffalo led 17-13 at half and the Chiefs came back swinging to take a 20-17 advantage.

Allen answered with one of his best throws of the year, a 13-yard strike on third down to Shakir who made an equally as impressive catch, tip-toeing the end zone to stay in bounds for a touchdown. According to Next Gen Stats, Shakir was 0.3 yards from the sideline when he made the reception and had only a 26% chance of making the catch in bounds.

Even with his impressive effort, Allen still wished he could have done more in the closing stages of the game. He credited Kansas City's defensive plan which was to limit Buffalo's explosive plays down field. Allen completed 16 passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, tied for the most of his career.

"Trying to take what the defense gives us. Gotta score touchdowns. I didn't think we played bad, I didn't think our team played bad. We gotta make one more play and we didn't," he said.

Check out the best game photos from Sunday's playoff clash with the Kansas City Chiefs. This gallery is presented by Gabe's Collision.

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