The Chiefs’ Offense Fails to Execute in Critical Situations and Dooms Them in 4 Point Loss to the Bills

Late in the fourth quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs held a 20-17 lead over the Buffalo Bills. Getting the ball back they failed to execute with a chance to put Buffalo away late. This was the theme of the day, and just one of the multiple failed attempts that the Chiefs had to secure a game that they would eventually let slip away.

This week all I have heard around various media outlets and from fellow Chiefs fans is “well we played them close”, “We will see them again in January”, “wait till our guys are healthy”, and so on down the line of lame excuses. In the words of the late great Dennis Green “They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook”.

There is no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL, only wins and losses, and among the wins and losses some mean a little more than others. This one meant a lot. Not for the TV ratings, not for the Mahomes vs Allen rivalry, not for revenge, not even for the number one seed in the AFC. Those are all incredibly valid reasons for why this was such an important game, and why it meant so much for each team to win, but the real reason it meant a lot for the Chiefs to lose in the fashion that they did was that they had a million missed chances, left a ton of points on the field, and couldn’t close a critical game at home, one that they had every chance to win.

Getting the ball back UP three in the fourth quarter the Chiefs needed to put together a drive if to nothing else eat the clock up, but they needed a clutch drive downfield. The Chiefs proceeded to throw a three-yard pass to Kelce, a one-yard run with Jerrick McKinnon, and then Mahomes was sacked by Von Miller. A closer look back at the play reveals that Mahomes had a man open downfield, but was skittish in the pocket due to constant pressure from the Bill’s defensive line.

The Chiefs gave the slide protection to the left and a chip block to Orlando Brown while leaving Wylie isolated one-on-one with Von Miller is somewhat telling of how much confidence the team has in their left tackle, or the lack thereof. Letting Travis Kelce deliver the chip worked to help in the protection, but it did not help him get off the line quickly and initially took him out of the play. Mahomes had a chance to step up, but some pressure up the middle throughout the game had him hesitate to move up. Miller was in full anticipation of Mahomes getting ready to scramble so he made sure to cut down on his angle after beating Wylie around the edge, effectively taking away any chance of Mahomes rolling out to potentially find Kelce on the run.

Skyy Moore also had beaten his man off the ball and Mahomes appeared to be looking that way ready to go, but a combination of Miller and the high safety coming down fast caused a delay. Nobody else was open on the play. The Bills would score the game-winning touchdown with their next drive.

The mistakes didn’t just happen in the fourth quarter, it was an all-game affair. This third and two play would get glossed over since the Chiefs would convert on the fourth, but Jerrick McKinnon would have a chance to score if he hit the correct hole. The run game was non-existent, the Bills expected to see zone and they were in position nearly every play to take it away. McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Isiah Pacheco combined for just 43 yards on 14 handoffs.

On the third down and long play above Buffalo was able to create pressure with four, once again taking advantage of the Chiefs’ need to use a chip block to help their tackles. The right side edge allows himself to be chipped down by JuJu Smith-Schuster, but this is because he is getting ready to loop back to the A gap while the three-technique fires through the B gap catching Wylie off guard. The wide rush from Von Miller is deep enough to get around Orlando Brown Jr., but the penetrator in the B gap is there immediately once Mahomes stepped up. This doesn’t allow him to take a look down the field and turns this play into a mad scramble of sorts, instead of controlled chaos.

The Chiefs’ offense was badly out-coached, going just four of eleven on third down and failing to convert, one of which would lead to a missed field goal. The Bills used a combination of walk-up players and unique rush combinations to beat the Chiefs, but this time it was about what they showed that forced a quick check down of Mahomes’ hands. Teams have not been afraid to bring pressure this season, which has at times made Mahomes reliant on some check downs to his running backs.

These plays have worked well for the Chiefs, but this time Buffalo was ready. When the defensive backs drop they immediately headed to the first down marker. It looks inviting for Mahomes to take the easy check, but it was a part of the trap. Smith-Schuster actually appeared to have found an opening around the first down marker, but the dropping players might have made him hesitant to throw into traffic.

Even when the Bills would go down to take the lead the Chiefs would still have a chance, but a late-game interception by an under-pressure Mahomes would seal the win for Buffalo. Demons of playoff frustrations were exercised by Buffalo, while Kansas City was left with their second loss of the season.

“It’s ok, we will see them again in the playoffs”.

Will the Chiefs see them again? That will be up to both of these teams as well as some luck. Nothing ever plays out the way it is supposed to in the NFL and a rematch while we have seen it two seasons in a row is still highly unlikely. Moral victories are for the Disney Channel, the results of NFL games are black and white. You either won or you lost. In Kansas City the standard is winning, no matter the opponent. I think a lot of people have forgotten that this week.

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