HomeFootball DirtBills and coach Sean McDermott defy weaknesses to defeat Chiefs and stay...

Bills and coach Sean McDermott defy weaknesses to defeat Chiefs and stay competitive in playoff race

Published on

spot_img

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — A new week has dawned with Sean McDermott still coaching the Buffalo Bills and, in turn, his team still afloat for a playoff spot.

Whether or not it’s fair to suggest one game represents a referendum on the coach or his players’ support for him, it’s apparent that McDermott and the Bills persevered through a tumultuous week.

What also became clear as the Bills hung on beat the Chiefs 20-17 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday was how similar the coach and his team really are.

On Friday, an emotional McDermott acknowledged his flaws as he apologized for a clumsy anecdote he shared with his players more than four years ago, when he credited the 9/11 hijackers for their near-perfect execution of an attack that left nearly 3,000 Americans dead. The story — revealed in a lengthy article citing numerous unnamed sources and posted on the Substack page of NFL writer Tyler Dunne — fueled a fresh round of criticism of McDermott by Bills fans.

On Sunday, a team with an injury-depleted defense and a dynamic but turnover-prone quarterback overcame its own flaws to defeat a conference rival, which wound up making one more mistake than Buffalo.

For once, the Bills (7-6), who have lost four times in the final minute or overtime this season, weren’t lamenting one that got away. This time, it was the Chiefs (8-5) who unraveled after a go-ahead touchdown was negated by an offensive offside penalty against receiver Kadarius Toney.

The Chiefs’ gaffe doesn’t erase how the Bills coughed up a game against Denver last month, when Broncos kicker Wil Lutz hit a 36-yard field goal as time expired after a penalty negated his miss from 41 yards. And it doesn’t excuse the Bills’ defense for allowing Mac Jones to engineer an eight-play, 75-yard TD drive in the final two minutes to secure New England’s victory in Week 7.

Either of those losses could stand as the difference in Buffalo missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

The win over the Chiefs, however, could be the spark the Bills need for their playoff push. They likely need to win three of their last four games, and the schedule doesn’t get easier with Dallas up next and a season finale at Miami.

Josh Allen was spectacular at times. He threw for a touchdown and ran for one, and he extended a drive to set up Tyler Bass’ eventual 39-yard field goal with 1:54 left. But he also threw an interception — his 14th overall and 10th in nine games — that set up the Chiefs’ first touchdown late in the first half.

Buffalo’s defense was missing three regulars and lost starting safety Micah Hyde to a stinger. Yet it was successful in pressuring Mahomes to keep him off balance.

McDermott tweaked his approach after frequently being criticized for conservative calls late in games. The coach made the change after spending the bye week studying what had gone wrong in Buffalo’s previous last-minute losses.

“I wanted to be be aggressive. That’s how we practiced it during the week,” McDermott said. “It paid off.”

The win at the very least served as a reprieve, and represented a potential turning point for a team and coach in a time of crisis. General manager Brandon Beane awarded McDermott a game ball in a video posted on the team’s social media account.

“Hey, we got this man’s back. Tough … week,” Beane said, punctuating his comments with a profanity, before embracing a smiling McDermott in a warm hug, and with owner Terry Pegula clapping in the background.

WHAT’S WORKING

Allen’s innovativeness. The quarterback extended Buffalo’s game-winning drive by converting two third-down chances, the first with a 25-yard completion to Deonte Harty, and the second with a 5-yard scamper.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Allen’s sloppiness. With Buffalo ahead 14-0, Allen’s attempt to squeeze a pass over the middle to Trent Shefield was easily intercepted by Chamarri Conner at midfield, leading to Jerick McKinnon scoring on a 1-yard run nine plays later.

STOCK UP

RB James Cook. The second-year player had a career-best and team-leading 83 yards receiving with a TD and added 58 yards rushing on 10 carries. Cook topped 100 yards from scrimmage for the fourth straight game.

STOCK DOWN

WR Stefon Diggs. The Bills’ top receiver had several drops and finished with four catches for 24 yards while being targeted 11 times.

INJURIES

DE A.J. Epenesa is listed week to week with a rib injury. … Hyde is listed week to week after aggravating a neck injury. … TE Dalton Kincaid (shoulder) is listed day to day.

KEY NUMBER

7-0 — The Bills’ record under McDermott after a bye.

NEXT STEPS

The Bills host Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, who led the league with 421 points entering Monday night’s games. Dallas has been much better at home, though — scoring 279 points in seven home games and 142 in six on the road.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

Latest articles

Why athletes choose to wear them instead of helmets

Welcome to FTW Explains, a guide...

New Addition to Saints Staff: Dave Ziegler Joins Team

Brought in to advise the Saints before the draft, Dave Ziegler has secured a...

Alvin Kamara Discusses Contract Negotiations

Being the NFL's standard bearers for organizational restructure for years, the Saints have not...

Quarterback Updates: Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, JT Daniels, and the Pittsburgh Steelers

Tua Tagovailoa is standing out by not holding in, distinguishing himself from the Dolphins'...

More like this

Why athletes choose to wear them instead of helmets

Welcome to FTW Explains, a guide...

New Addition to Saints Staff: Dave Ziegler Joins Team

Brought in to advise the Saints before the draft, Dave Ziegler has secured a...

Alvin Kamara Discusses Contract Negotiations

Being the NFL's standard bearers for organizational restructure for years, the Saints have not...