Reality bites the Bills

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s time to pump the brakes. Actually, forget pumping them. Just jump up and mash on the brakes with both feet.

This team just isn’t ready. They aren’t ready to play ball with the AFC’s best.

All the dreams of 1-seeds and bye weeks and a Super Bowl will have to remain dreams, for now. They have been much more nightmares the last two weeks.

The Josh Allen MVP talk? Let’s fold it up, lock it away in a box and slide the box into that basement drawer with the pictures of great-great-grandma.

The Bills have been weighed and measured the last two games by, possibly, the best two teams in the AFC and they have been found wanting in far too many areas.

That starts with Allen, who missed his first two passes badly and never looked comfortable. His 122 yards were the second fewest in his career during a game where he played all 60 minutes.

MORE | Bills lose to Chiefs 26-17 at home, fall to 4-2 after loss against defending Super Bowl champions

Outside the TD throw to Stefon Diggs, there weren’t any of the wow throws we saw the first four weeks. Allen was missing layups, too. He was wide to Cole Beasley in the 3rd quarter with the Bills still down three on a third down throw that would have easily converted. Buffalo punted and, a few minutes later, the Chiefs were in the end zone for a ten point lead. Buffalo was chasing the game the rest of the way.

Allen said after the game that, “we can’t afford if I play poorly.” He’s right. A good roster and poor quarterback play only got Buffalo to the Wild Card round last year. They got eliminated by a lesser roster and great quarterback play. We’ve seen “great” Allen a few times this year, but he’s disappeared the last two weeks in Buffalo’s two toughest games.

The quarterback wasn’t the only problem. Tyler Bass looked like a rookie unable to handle the spotlight at the end of the first half. KC had given Buffalo a gift with a fumble and a braincramp on the following snap. Good teams and good kickers turn gifts into points. Instead, Bass fanned a 52 yard try like a 20-handicapper fans a 4-iron. That field goal would have come in pretty handy in the fourth quarter.

I think Sean McDermott deserves some flak for not trying a two point conversion after the Bills second TD. Down 7 with six minutes to play, a two pointer gets Buffalo within 5 and denies KC a chance to bury the game with a field goal. Which is exactly what they did.

McDermott said going for two is always discussed and he doesn’t have a crystal ball to predict game outcomes. Funny, because I saw that Chiefs field goal drive coming a mile away. Considering the Twitter chatter about the two point discussion after the game, I wasn’t the only one.

Compare those two points with the Titans. They have a kicker in Stephen Gostkowski that’s won Super Bowls and can perform in big spots. He’s made late game winners in three games and hit a tying PAT at the buzzer this weekend. The Titans also have a coach in Mike Vrabel that probably saved his team a win Sunday by taking an intentional 12 men on the field penalty. It’s the second time he’s done it.

I was ready to line the Bills defense up right next to the above guilty parties, but I actually don’t think they had a bad night.

McDermott mentioned multiple times post game about “picking your poison” with the Chiefs. Micah Hyde said the Chiefs explosive passing game was a catalyst for Buffalo allowing so much on the ground. Reading between the lines, I think the Bills decided letting Andy Reid run all over them was preferable to the alternative. Sitting Trent Murphy and Harrison Phillips down is further confirmation.

As a result, I think the Bills left that game fairly happy with how the defense played. Of course, there’s no way on God’s Green Earth allowing KC to romp for 245 rushing yards was in the game plan. On the other hand, Bills fans would have happily signed up for any of the following stats before the game started:

  • Mahomes passing for 225 yards
  • Three catches for Tyreek Hill
  • Demarcus Robinson leading KC with 69 yards receiving
  • 26 Chiefs points

McDermott pointed out that other teams get buried by the Chiefs because balls are flying over their heads and it’s 40-17 instead of 23-17 late. Despite all those run play snaps for six, seven, eight yards, the Bills were one stop away from having a chance to win. They were a millimeter away from getting that stop on the near Justin Zimmer forced fumble.

What Western New York saw as a defensive failure, the NFL might see as a defensive blueprint.

That brings us back to a somewhat distressing spot: A big game where the defense does its job, but the offense is mediocre. It’s peak 2019 Bills.

Allen has still become a legit franchise QB, but perhaps the victory lap from Bills fans regarding his first four weeks was a touch premature. The leap that has already happened this year does not preclude needing another before the Bills become the AFC contender they appeared to be in September.

The good news is Allen and the Bills are going to get plenty more chances at the best of the best and most of them will be home. Seattle and Pittsburgh will be in Orchard Park over the next two months. Plus, the two battles with the Patriots might even count as “big” games.

Buffalo is also still a first place team. They have a one game lead in the AFC East and have already beaten their closest competitor on the road (Miami). A split with the Patriots seems a good bet to keep New England in the rearview all year. There is plenty of reason to think the Bills will be a playoff team and, at least, open the playoffs at home. They will get another shot at the Kansas City’s and the Tennessee’s of the world come January.

It’s a good thing, too, because Buffalo clearly isn’t ready to handle them right now.

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