BUFFALO, N.Y. — The ending of the Buffalo Bills’ playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs is not one that will quickly be forgotten.
For Bills’ fans, it will go down as one of the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history, finding a spot among the four straight Super Bowl losses (Wide Right) and the Music City Miracle.
Coach Sean McDermott is among those who will have a hard time not revisiting and thinking about the final 13 seconds and brief overtime of the 42-36 loss.
“I watched it on video and I watched it over and over in my head a million times, in my stomach a million more,” McDermott said Tuesday during his end-of-season news conference. “It’s my livelihood and I’m super competitive as well. I want the best for our football team and this organization and our fans, quite honestly. So I’ll continue to watch it in my mind and in my gut for years … but when we get to where we’re trying to get to, I believe that’ll make it that much more enjoyable in that moment.”
For now, the feelings from the loss will linger as the Bills’ offseason begins. After returning much of the roster from the 2020 season, losing to the same opponent at the same venue a year later (the Chiefs defeated the Bills in last year’s AFC Championship Game) shouldn’t sit well with a team.
The game was the first in playoff history with four go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime and second of all games in the Super Bowl era (Vikings-Ravens in 2013), per the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Bills had gone up 36-33 thanks to a historic fourth touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Gabriel Davis, which left just 13 seconds on the clock for the Chiefs to try and kick a tying field goal. They did just that.
Led by Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City marched quickly down the field to set up a successful 49-yard field goal by Harrison Butker.
“I’m thinking it’s Pat Mahomes on the other side,” Allen said of his thoughts after taking the lead. “They made some good plays there at the end, and unfortunately the coin toss went the way it went. But I mean, again, scoring with 13 seconds left, it was an unbelievable play by him.”
Following the game, many questioned the decision by McDermott to kick the ball into the end zone on the kickoff, not taking time off the clock with a squib kick or one that bounced short of the end zone. While the coach declined to get into the specifics of the thought process or if that was the play called, he pointed to the execution of the situation.
“It comes down to execution,” McDermott said. “[It’s] disappointing because we pride ourselves on detail. We pride ourselves on execution and being great in situational football. And we practiced that tirelessly here. I mean, nonstop. … It’s even more disappointing knowing that we prepare and practice those situations a ton here in Buffalo. That’s where I come back to you gotta face it and we’re not gonna run from it. I believe in that.” In terms of a potential miscommunication on the playcall on the kickoff or if kicker Tyler Bass was supposed to kick it shorter than he did to take more time off the game clock, McDermott declined to get into the specifics, saying, “I’m not going to get into the weeds on that.”
The coach also acknowledged that drawing a penalty to take time off the clock was considered as well as taking a timeout during overtime as Mahomes went 6-of-6 passing and took the Chiefs downfield for a game-winning touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce, but didn’t want to explain further what played out defensively on the field.
“We executed,” linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said on the final 13 seconds. “It’s just an unfortunate situation that we were in, that things didn’t go our way.”
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