The Buffalo Bills defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, winning a 38-20 contest that showed just how far the Bills have come since last season. Whereas they were unable to keep up with Kansas City’s high-powered offense in 2020, the Bills were able to do plenty on defense to make sure that they came out victorious.
Nobody goes into Arrowhead Stadium and completely shuts down the Chiefs, but the Bills were able to go in and have their way with the presumptive favorites in the AFC. Here’s how they contained our Kansas City players to watch.
QB Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City’s all-world signal-caller was not sharp on Sunday. While Cris Collinsworth might have wanted to chalk it up to a bad night, there’s a simpler solution: Buffalo’s defense is really, really good. They mixed coverages on Mahomes while setting the edge and containing him in the pocket with just four rushers. Since he was stuck in the pocket, Mahomes couldn’t make the big-time backyard plays he’s made routinely over the last four years. Mahomes completed a healthy number of passes, hitting on 33-of-54 attempts overall, but his longest pass gained just 26 yards. He threw two touchdowns passes—one was a shovel-pass to tight end Travis Kelce, and another went to Byron Pringle after the Chiefs played an asinine game of musical quarterbacks before the snap—but he also threw two interceptions, including one that Micah Hyde returned for a touchdown. It wasn’t a banner day for Mahomes, and the Bills’ defense silenced an awful lot of critics in making him look mortal.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
The young runner shredded Buffalo last year but, this time around, he wasn’t able to find his footing. CEH ran for just 13 yards on seven carries. He added one reception==a screen pass that he took for 11 yards. However, his left leg bent awkwardly underneath him when he was tackled at the end of that play, and he missed the rest of the game thanks to what we now know is an MCL sprain. Edwards-Helaire will miss some time as a result.
WR Tyreek Hill
The speedy wideout’s biggest play was one that he didn’t make, as it was Hill who dropped the pass that sailed into Micah Hyde’s arms and led to Buffalo’s fourth touchdown of the evening. Hill was a one-man wrecking crew in January, but this time around, Buffalo had a plan and executed it perfectly. Buffalo’s safeties were always waiting over the top when Hill went long, and they mixed zone coverages and bracket man looks enough that the Chiefs were just a bit off balance. They held Hill to seven catches for 63 yards on a game-high 13 targets. His yardage and reception totals were both second on the Chiefs to Mecole Hardman. Hill also ran once for a 15-yard gain.
TE Travis Kelce
The second wrecking-ball in Kansas City’s offense was also held in check on Sunday. What’s even better is that Buffalo was short-handed, as linebacker Matt Milano was out with a hamstring injury, so Kelce found himself working on A.J. Klein more often than the Bills would want. Kelce caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown on ten targets. The final target he saw came in the fourth quarter, and he laid out to try to make a catch. Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer dove and hit Kelce in the head, and the big tight end suffered a stinger. It was a scary play for sure, and while I’m certain there was no intent to injure there, I’m also glad that nothing worse happened to Kelce.
DE Frank Clark
As we expected, defensive lineman Chris Jones did not play due to his wrist injury. As we expected, the Bills were able to contain Frank Clark for most of the night, as well. Clark made just two tackles, and his most impactful play is one that I’m sure Skarekrow will write all about later this week. With the Bills facing a 3d & 17 in the fourth quarter, Clark was called for roughing the passer on the same play that quarterback Josh Allen had just thrown an interception. It was a “letter-of-the-law” call, and referee Carl Cheffers’s crew was flag-happy all night. Pretending that one call was both the only borderline call or the most egregious of the night is about as crazy as insinuating that the officials didn’t blow any calls that harmed Buffalo during the 60 minutes both teams played. Clark, like most of his defensive teammates, was a nonfactor in the game.