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Opinion: For a team built on scoring in 2020, Buffalo Bills had problems with that in AFC Championship

Some shootout.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

After last season, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the team needed to score more points. Then he put his money where his mouth is and went out and traded for Stefon Diggs and spent draft picks on another running back and two receivers and added players on the offensive line. In Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, that scoring offense let down the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo had a decent opening drive, getting three points on a 51-yard field goal after two incomplete passes stalled things. Buffalo had 2nd-and-3 but couldn’t pick up the new set of downs.

A 15-yard sack ended the team’s second drive but a muffed punt gave the Bills the ball at the 3 and they punched it in to go up 9-0. Great success! The scoring fizzled out after that point.

A five-play, 11-yard drive was followed by a three-and-out and Buffalo was down 21-9 in no time. While the Kansas City Chiefs were scoring three touchdowns on long drives of more than 70 yards, Buffalo’s offense couldn’t even managed first downs.

To end the first half, the Bills engineered a solid drive of 73 yards only to stall out at the 2. Instead of trying for a 4th-and-goal touchdown, the Bills elected to kick a field goal. The points made it a 21-12 game, but we’ve seen it over and over again from the other side; field goals don’t win games against good offenses.

Another field goal from inside Kansas City’s 10-yard line really hurt. Buffalo gained six yards on 1st-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 15. A second-down gain of one yard followed by an incomplete pass left 4th-and-4 down 24-12 to a team that had scored on their last four possessions. Buffalo’s defense couldn’t get a stop. You know it’s not enough to just keep putting points on the board, you need to outscore the Chiefs down the stretch to come from behind. That entire drive should have been touchdown-or-bust. When the kick sailed through, Buffalo was still down two scores.

After 55 yards, an interception stopped their next drive. When the fourth quarter began, they had just 15 points. Buffalo hadn’t entered the fourth quarter of a game with fewer than 17 points since Week 8. The team built on scoring, couldn’t score.

The Bills added ten points in garbage time. Kansas City scored on six straight possessions following their opening-drive punt. Buffalo had three punts and an interception to go along with their field goals and gift-wrapped touchdown.

The Chiefs were tenth in scoring defense and 20th in passing touchdowns allowed in 2020. The Bills had shredded top passing defenses this year, putting up points on the Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots, who all finished ahead of Kansas City in scoring defense. The Denver Broncos allowed just 21 passing touchdowns in 2020 and Josh Allen went for 259 yards and two touchdowns on them. The Bills couldn’t solve the puzzle in their biggest game of the year, though.

All week, we had been talking about how much fun this game was going to be with shootout potential. Buffalo barely even got the gun out of the holster.