Saturday, February 24, 2024

Bills add to haunted history of playoff woes with ‘Wide Right, Part 2,’ but here’s who’s really to blame

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Wide Right, Part 2. That’s what this game will be known as in Buffalo forever. 

But like Scott Norwood after Super Bowl XXV, Bills kicker Tyler Bass didn’t dodge the media after his miss that essentially ended the game. 

“It’s disappointing, I’m hurt now, having this feeling going into the offseason,” Bass said at his locker after the game. “I have to do whatever I can to improve.”

When asked about his confidence after a miss and blocked kick in the wild-card round, Bass said, “My confidence was high. I had a great week of practice, made some adjustments, felt good going into the game, but the results didn’t work out.”

Bass too commented on the support he’d gotten from his teammates immediately following the loss, and those sentiments were echoed by Bills quarterback Josh Allen

“I wish it wouldn’t have been put in that situation,” Allen said. “You win as a team you lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a game, doesn’t define a season.”

Bills head coach Sean McDermott said “we have full confidence in Tyler” at his postgame press conference. 

Now, showing such support isn’t surprising, but it’s still noteworthy. And while Bass’ kick did all but officially seal the victory for the Chiefs, who’ll remarkably head to their sixth-consecutive AFC Championship Game, Buffalo’s banged-up defense simply couldn’t get Kansas City into 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long scenarios. The Chiefs ran 62 offensive plays in the victory and only got to third down five times. Incredible. 

Also, the Chiefs averaged a whopping 7.7 yards per play after averaging 5.6 yards per play in the December loss to the Bills inside Arrowhead Stadium. 

For the third time in his career, Mahomes shredded the Bills defense in the playoffs. This loss for Buffalo was a recurring nightmare from that perspective too. 

“It starts with me,” McDermott said. “And I take full responsibility. We didn’t do enough to win the game. We didn’t do enough to impact the game defensively.”

Beyond Bass’ miss and the Bills defense finally cracking amidst the vast injuries it endures, on Buffalo’s final drive of the season, inside the Chiefs’ 30-yard-line, Allen got a rusher in his face which didn’t allow him to step into a throw that would’ve hit an open Khalil Shakir in the end zone to take the lead. The pass hit the turf a yard or two short. 

Hinting at inevitable season-to-season changes, Bills center Mitch Morse said, “This week was like a celebration out there at practice. My thought isn’t who we lost to, it’s that this team won’t have an opportunity to play together again, and that’s a shame.”

Against what many would agree is a Chiefs team not as dynamic as its normally been during the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid era, surrendering nearly eight yards per play is not a recipe for success. Add in a squandered potential go-ahead touchdown on the last drive and a missed fourth-quarter field goal, and there you have it, another devastating Bills loss in the playoffs. 

It’s haunting for the Bills and their fans because it happened on a kick that missed wide right … again. 

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