ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After “Wide Right” and “Music City Miracle,” the Buffalo Bills begin the offseason adding a new entry into their history of playoff heartbreak: “13 Seconds.”
That’s how much time separated the Bills from securing the next step in their Super Bowl aspirations. Instead came a stunning 42-36 overtime loss at Kansas City in a divisional playoff game on Sunday.
While some on Buffalo’s sideline were spotted laughing after Josh Allen completed his fourth touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis — an NFL playoff record — to go ahead 36-33 with 13 seconds remaining, the quarterback sat in stone-faced silence knowing the game was far from over.
“I’m thinking it’s Pat Mahomes on the other side,” Allen said.
Sure enough, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a near-improbable victory in a showdown of two of the league’s top quarterbacks, sending the Bills packing following yet another one of the franchise’s infamous collapses.
Wide Right earned its name when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt with 4 seconds left in a 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in the 1991 Super Bowl. The Music City Miracle — or “Home-run Throw Forward,” as it’s known in Buffalo — was the result of Frank Wychek’s video-reviewed lateral, setting up Kevin Dyson’s 75-yard kickoff return in the final seconds of Tennessee’s 22-16 win in an AFC wild-card playoff on Jan. 8, 2000.
It didn’t take long following the loss to the Chiefs for the second-guessing to begin.
One question was whether the Bills should have kicked off into the end zone and instead force the Chiefs to return the ball to potentially eat up some of the remaining seconds. A bigger concern focused on how the NFL’s top-ranked defense turned into a sieve in allowing the Chiefs to score twice in the final 1:54 in regulation before losing on the opening drive of overtime.
An emotionally drained coach Sean McDermott declined to get into specifics by saying: “There’s things we talked about, and we can just execute better, and that starts with me and goes all the way around.”
While center Mitch Morse declined to point fingers, safety Jordan Poyer accepted responsibility.
“Man, offense did everything they had to do,” Poyer said. “Defense, we had to go out there and make a stop, weren’t able to do it. It’s just a tough feeling.”
It’s also not the first time Poyer and the defense came up short in a season in which it became abundantly clear the unit padded its production against subpar opponents.
In finishing 12-7, Buffalo went a combined 3-5 against opponents who made the playoffs, with two of those wins against rookie Mac Jones and the New England Patriots.
In seven losses, Buffalo combined to allow 196 points, forced three turnovers and generated just eight sacks. In 12 wins, Buffalo allowed a combined 142 points, forced 29 turnovers and generated 39 sacks.
And the loss to the Chiefs highlighted an inability to win close games, with Buffalo finishing 0-6 in one-score outings, a year after going 6-1.