For the Buffalo Bills, the game against the Kansas City Chiefs was a must-win. While not a playoff game, a loss would have left the Bills with about a 5% chance of making the postseason. It would have been a loss to a conference opponent and a loss to a common opponent of a myriad of teams scrambling to have a better resume than the other guys. It would have been a jagged pill to swallow. Buffalo did what they hadn’t done all year; find a way to win a tough road game against an equally matched team.
Here are four takeaways from a gritty win in the heartland.
Buffalo Bills Week 14 Ends With a Win
Maybe Messy Wins are the Way to Go
Everyone wants finesse, fancy, and flawless. Some of the great teams seemed to make it look easy and effortless, complete with nicknames like “The Greatest Show on Turf”, “The Steel Curtain”, “Legion of Boom”, “The Cardiac Kids,” and so on. Not sure the Buffalo Bills have done enough to earn a nickname, at least not a catchy one. But, on this Sunday afternoon in Missouri, they earned a hard-fought win by doing just enough to squeeze past a reeling Chiefs team. They won ugly; messy. If that’s what it takes, then so be it. No one in Western New York is going to mind.
The Bills managed to put up only six points in the second half of the game. KC put up only 10. This stat line was a combination of pallid offenses and effectively boring defenses. This game was not exactly exciting nor was a shootout, but it was a definitive look at who the Bills and Chiefs are as of now. The Bills are scraping and clawing to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, while the Chiefs are watching any hope of securing the number-one seed in the playoffs slip away, along with any swagger and fear factor that they had had on other teams. It was a messy win for the Bills and a messy loss for the Chiefs.
Buffalo’s Defense is turning a Corner
The Bills defense has always looked good on paper and even performed well enough on the field. The rub has been that they can’t close the deal, and it has been a true assessment. Injuries, too many men on the field, porous secondary play inside two minutes left in a game… when it mattered most, the defense was not producing the desired results. In Kansas City, the defense wasn’t blinded by the bright lights or the star appearances. They didn’t care about the banners hung or the rings on their opponent’s fingers. The defense got it done.
If there is a slightly shining silver lining in the win at KC, it was that the defense came through, and not just against a team like the Jets or Raiders, but against the team that has a former MVP, Superbowl-winning quarterback and commercial star on their side. Add to the mix the fact that the defense is hoping to get some players back like Elam, Benford and maybe even Milano, and suddenly the Buffalo defense is a problem. If the Bills make the playoffs, this defense may just win them a messy game again, and we all know what a great defense means in big games.
Josh Allen has Settled into Not Settling
Yes, Josh Allen threw another interception on a bad read. Bills Mafia doesn’t have to like it, but they are going to have to live with it. Josh Allen is not going to settle for throwing the ball away or eating it by running for one yard. The difference at this point in the season is that ‘settling’ for Allen now means finding the running back in the flat, checking down to his new favorite toy Dalton Kincaid, or extending the play long enough to find a receiver. This is in contrast to ‘settling’ early on in the season, which meant forcing a ball into a closing window or zinging a deep ball to a covered Wideout, which resulted in incompletions and picks.
Allen is running with the same amount of aggression and chutzpa as ever, but now he has added an element of savvy and smarts to his angry runs. That touchdown run doesn’t happen if Josh Allen settles and just goes down. His decisions in the pocket are also showing an improved level of understanding, game management, and just plain will to win. Allen still doesn’t have to do it all, but what he is doing lately tells you all you need to know about the motor and motivation of this superstar.
Cringe alert! What were Mahomes and Reid doing After the Game?
Respect is earned, and often the hard way. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are two of the most respected figures in the NFL, and with good reason. Reid is a shoo-in at Canton once he retires. Mahomes is a generational talent and a marketing goldmine. They do things the right way. So, seeing them both behave, well, let’s be frank, immature and spoiled, was a head-scratching and awkward time.
It’d be easy to say that the NFL and the media treat all players and coaches the same. After we all laughed too much, it’d have to be taken it back. If Josh Allen and Sean McDermott had acted this way, journalists and pundits would be having a field day and vilifying the pair with extreme prejudice. Mahomes and Reid may have earned respect, but they certainly lost some with their selfish and senseless tirades. It was whining and witless, and Matt Hasselback put it simply on SportsCenter: “They’re wrong.”
It is a joke that these two complain about a call when the entire season has been full of bad calls and missed infractions, and when the officials actually get it right, these guys throw up their hands and try to play the victim. It was embarrassing and completely unnecessary. Usually, the embarrassment is on the officials. Instead, a perfectly sad example of poor sportsmanship was on full display in KC, and it came from the most unlikely place. It was and still is a bad look for the Chiefs, Mahomes, and Reid.
Main Image: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports