An ugly second half against the defending champions doomed the Buffalo Bills on a rainy night in Orchard Park.
The Buffalo Bills managed to keep Patrick Mahomes mostly in check on a rainy Monday night, but it still wasn’t enough to take down the defending Super Bowl champions.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire put up an infantile career-best 161 rushing yards, pacing the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense on a cold overcast night at Bills Stadium en route to a 26-17 victory in Monday night’s showdown between AFC divisional leaders. Mahomes did contribute to the Kansas City (5-1) cause with two touchdown passes, each to Travis Kelce.
Buffalo (4-2) has now lost consecutive regular season games while at full strength for the first time since 2018 (not counting the season-ending losses at the end of last season, when the Bills played mostly backups in their unsuccessful Week 17 game against the New York Jets).
ESM looks back on the four plays, one from each quarter, that determined Buffalo’s fate on Monday night…
— NFL (@NFL) October 19, 2020
1st Quarter: Matt Milanooooo
If this is the way the Bills’ defense looks without Matt Milano, it might be time to give the veteran linebacker some MVP consideration in absentia.
The Bills knew it would be a tall task dealing with Kelce with or without Milano, but his prescience might’ve at least made things more difficult in the red zone. His physicality and coverage prowess were particularly missed on the Bills’ second defensive drive when Kelce outworked Tremaine Edmunds (whose still working off the effects of a shoulder injury) to score the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the game. It echoed the success Tennessee was able to earn from the tight end spot on Tuesday, as Kelce was able to match Jonnu Smith’s two touchdowns scored in Nashville.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 19, 2020
2nd Quarter: Walk the Klein
Kelce had three receptions in the first half, each of them playing a major role in the game’s timeline. He scored another touchdown in the second quarter (one that wound up giving Kansas City the lead permanently) and seemed poised for a chance to get another when the Chiefs got the ball back with just a minute to go and all their timeouts on the board. Stationed at the Kansas City 32, Kelce took a Mahomes pass to just about midfield, where he was stripped of the ball by A.J. Klein. Josh Norman was able to pounce on it, giving Buffalo a chance to try a potential tying field before the halftime gun.
While Tyler Bass missed the 52-yard attempt, the play was part of a strong stretch for the Buffalo defense. Not only did the turnover keep things at three points going into the locker room, but they also forced another Kansas City punt on their next drive. What could’ve been a 23-10 deficit remained stagnant at 13-10. For a team facing the mighty defending champions’ high-octane offense on short rest, that’s one of several moral victories gained against a brutal opponent.
Darrel Williams finds the end zone on 4th down!@Chiefs lead 20-10 with 1:18 left in the third.
— NFL (@NFL) October 19, 2020
3rd Quarter: Run All Night
With 11:22 to go in the second quarter, the Bills took a 10-7 lead through a 13-play, 75-yard masterpiece that was capped off by a Stefon Diggs touchdown grab. It was a drive that took 6:43 off the game clock…nearly seven minutes without Mahomes, Kelce, Edwards-Helaire, etc. on the field.
But over their next three possessions, Buffalo ran just 14 plays, tallying only 53 yards, and 5:18 on the time of possession clock. Kansas City noticed, taking advantage by showcasing their run game. In addition to Edwards-Helaire’s breakout effort, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson united for 43 yards in relief. Williams dealt a crushing blow to a tired Buffalo defense, busting loose for a 13-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-one.
Each of Kansas City’s eight regular-season losses in the Mahomes era has come in games where they lost the time of possession battle. Buffalo failed to fulfill that requirement on Monday, as the offense was on the field for only 22:15.
4th Quarter: One-Hit Blunder
Penalties have been a bit of an issue (6.6 per game) for the Bills despite their success in the early going. They did manage to play a mostly clean game with only four flags on Monday, including none in the first half.
However, one of them was an unforced error of drastic proportions, a show of frustration that was almost…Jets-ian in nature.
With the Bills down 20-10, Poyer was able to briefly neutralize Edwards-Helaire by stopping him on a screen pass for a loss of two. Had Poyer let go once Edwards-Helaire was forced out of bounds, the Chiefs would’ve faced a third down with seven to go at circa midfield. Alas, Poyer forced Edwards-Helaire out of bounds and slammed him to the ground, drawing a 15-yard penalty and a first down. Kansas City would go on to earn a Harrison Butker field goal, more or less settling things at a two-possession game.
Penalties are going to be an issue if the Bills have any hopes of recovering and moving forward. Their currently per game tally is eighth-worst in football.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags