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Bills 24, Chiefs 20: Five things we learned

The Bills sit atop the AFC after their last-minute win at Arrowhead Stadium

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

Following a rousing, come-from-behind, 24-20 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs this afternoon, the Buffalo Bills enter a much-needed bye week at 5-1 and alone atop the AFC standings.

It’s the Bills’ second come-from-behind road win over an expected AFC playoff contender in the past three weeks, and serves to cement Buffalo’s status as a bona fide Super Bowl contender for the remainder of the season. Here are five things we learned—or reaffirmed—while watching this big win.

Allen-to-Diggs revival in KC

Josh Allen completed 27-of-40 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning 14-yard strike to tight end Dawson Knox with just over a minute remaining in regulation. This was a continuation of Allen’s excellent play in Kansas City, and while not something that should be taken for granted, still relatively expected output for the MVP front runner.

His connection with top wideout Stefon Diggs, however, is worth pointing out. Diggs, you may recall, was nearly shut out of the Bills’ divisional-round playoff loss to the Chiefs back in January, catching three balls for seven yards in that loss. Wide receiver Gabe Davis more than made up the difference that day, but you can bet Diggs was interested in flipping that script—and he took advantage of a banged-up Chiefs secondary to do so. Diggs finished the day with 10 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown, and when Allen needed a security blanket as the going got tough in the second and third quarters, it was Diggs who rose to the occasion.

Singletary starts the motor

For just the second time this season, Allen did not pace the Bills in rushing yardage—though he did posterize another Chiefs defensive back with a timely hurdle toting the rock in the waning moments of the game. That’s because the Bills were finally able to establish the run early in this contest, taking advantage of some conservative Chiefs safety alignments to get Devin Singletary going.

Singletary carried 17 times for 85 yards; that’s the highest single-game rushing output from him since a Week 18 win over the New York Jets last January while the Bills were gearing up for the postseason. He also caught four passes for 22 yards, finishing second on the team behind Diggs in receptions. The Bills needed a chain-mover in this contest, and while Diggs did his fair share of that, Singletary chipped in in a big way—particularly early on.

Miller closes

I spent a good deal of time after the Bills closed out this game thinking about defensive end Jerry Hughes, and the near-sack of quarterback Patrick Mahomes in that aforementioned playoff loss that came oh-so-close to changing that game’s outcome.

The Bills, of course, overhauled their defensive line this offseason, with the signing of elite pass rusher Von Miller spearheading that effort, and it’s hard not to imagine General manager Brandon Beane daydreaming about the exact scenario that played out on the Chiefs’ final drive after Miller put pen to paper.

Buffalo has its closer. On the play that cornerback Taron Johnson secured the game-clinching interception of Mahomes, it was Miller who split a double-team off of right tackle and flushed Mahomes out of the pocket. A spying Matt Milano then applied pressure, Johnson pounced on the off-platform throw, and the rest is history.

The Bills can win imperfectly

As was the case in Baltimore, the Bills overcame some sloppy early play—on the road, against a high-quality opponent—and won. The Bills are known for winning by blowout, and while that serves their fans’ health well, it also has to be incredibly heartening to know that the team doesn’t have a razor-thin margin against an elite team. They can overcome. They’re that good.

Thankfully, the team didn’t have to overcome quite as much in Kansas City as they did in Baltimore. Allen pitched backwards to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie on a play call doomed from the start, and the Chiefs pounced on the fumble for an opening-drive turnover. Mahomes returned the favor in kind on the ensuing possession, forcing a red zone throw on the move that was intercepted by cornerback Kaiir Elam. The Bills then opened the scoring a drive later with a Tyler Bass field goal.

The Bills also overcame a brief inability to figure out Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz schemes in the second quarter to end their half with a touchdown toss to Davis. That put the Bills up 10-7. (We can forget about what happened in the ensuing 16 seconds.)

That narrative is mega-dead

Talking heads continued to bring up the Bills’ 2021 streak of bad luck in one-score games this week—ridiculously applying it to Allen in some cases, as if Allen hadn’t brought the Bills back from the brink twice in that playoff game that they still ultimately lost.

Even for those highly paid personalities so unobservant as to do basic research—Allen has, and had, more come-from-behind victories to his name than Mahomes entering this contest—they’ll need to try to walk that rhetoric back after watching Allen engineer yet another last-minute touchdown drive at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Bills are now 2-1 in one-score games this year. All three of those games were played on the road against playoff contenders. Their bad luck streak is over, and they’re starting to stack some character-building wins as a result.