Instead, after embracing Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes moments after he had thrown the game-winning score Sunday night, Allen took his time and let his eyes linger. He looked around Arrowhead Stadium, watching Kansas City fans and players celebrate another postseason win and a berth in their fourth straight home AFC Championship Game.
“It was tough to be in that moment,” Allen said. “Holding on to that feeling and making sure that we don’t feel like this again. And like I said, back-to-back years in the same spot. It’s tough to take in, but it’s part of the game. It’s part of the learning process. …
“We got to use this and figure out how we can be better and how we can accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
The 42-36 loss to the Chiefs in overtime marked a second straight year the Bills’ season has come to an end against Kansas City. Buffalo has yet to win a road playoff game under coach Sean McDermott (0-4).
Their goal of reaching the Super Bowl — and of getting past the Chiefs — will have to wait at least another year. The Bills spent the offseason preparing to beat Kansas City after losing in last year’s AFC title game at Arrowhead.
This time, the game ended in devastating fashion on the first drive of overtime after the teams scored four times in the final two minutes of regulation.
“We just ended up on the wrong side of maybe one of the greatest games in postseason history,” center Mitch Morse said.
Wide receiver Gabriel Davis had a breakout performance Sunday night, becoming the first player in postseason history to catch four touchdown passes. He finished with eight receptions for 201 yards.
“Gabe had his opportunity tonight and he made some outstanding plays,” Allen said.
Despite the offense’s heroics, the Bills’ defense came up short when it was needed most. Trailing 36-33, the Chiefs got the ball back with just 13 seconds left before marching downfield in two plays, and Harrison Butker kicked a 49-yard game-tying field goal.
The 25 points scored in the last two minutes of regulation are the second most of regulation of any game in the Super Bowl era, per Elias Sports Bureau research.
“We talked about a lot of things,” McDermott said of the team’s approach to the end of the game. “I’m just gonna leave it at the execution. And that starts with me.”
The league’s No. 1 pass defense fell apart in overtime, allowing Mahomes to complete 6 of 6 passes, including the winning score to tight end Travis Kelce.
After an offseason partially built around addressing problems that came up last postseason against the Chiefs, especially the pass rush, the Bills have to get back to work on finding ways to get past Kansas City, something that will be no easy feat.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Kelce again had big games against the Bills, combining for 246 yards on 19 receptions and two touchdowns. Mahomes finished with 378 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs were able to take wide receiver Stefon Diggs out of the game. He finished with three receptions on six targets for 7 yards and a successful 2-point conversion.
“[Diggs is] obviously one of our best players and we’ve got to make sure we’re getting him the ball,” McDermott said. “But at the end of the day, we scored to take the lead with 13 seconds left. So, there’s a lot we can talk about, but we put ourselves in a position to win the game.”
The Bills will now head into an offseason with limited cap room and changes on the way in the front office and potentially the coaching staff. Much of the team will be returning, although there are some key veteran decisions on the way, for yet another run at finding their way back to the big game.
Describe the game in two words: Heartbreaking end. The Bills’ No. 1 defense fell just short when the team needed stops with a trip to the AFC Championship Game at stake.
QB breakdown: Allen continued his postseason magic, completing 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 68 yards on 11 carries and had six rushing first downs, the most by a quarterback in the past two postseasons.
Allen finished the postseason with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. It wasn’t enough to come away with the win Sunday night, but Allen had some of his best performances of the season in the playoffs. He became the first player with four passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in back-to-back games in postseason history.
“[No.] 17 is always going to make a play with the ball in his hand — we got a lot of trust and faith in him,” Davis said. “He’s the best quarterback in the NFL and I stand by that, and I know that when it’s time to make plays, I know he’s gonna be there to make them.”