The formula to defeating the Kansas City Chiefs starts with winning a shootout. Settling for field goals won't get it done.
The Buffalo Bills know this fact, which is why the decision to kick field goals inside the red zone hurt as Sean McDermott's club fell in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, 38-24.
The Bills went 2 of 5 in the red zone, kicking two chip-shot field goals and Josh Allen throwing an interception. One of those successful red-zone drives started at the 3-yard line following an early muffed punt. After taking the 9-0 lead, it was all a steep downhill for the Bills.
After the loss, Allen said settling for field goals wasn't his choice but placed the blame on his shoulders for not punching the ball in before those decisions came into play.
"That's coach's decision," Allen said. "We had three downs to get in there prior, and we didn't do our job. Like I said, lack of communication, lack of execution down there falls on my shoulders."
Twice inside the 10-yard line, McDermott settled for field goals instead of going for a TD on fourth down. Near the end of the first half, he kicked from the 2-yard line. On the first possession of the third quarter, on a 4th-and-3 from the 8-yard line, McDermott elected for another chippy despite the fact that doing so did little to threaten the Chiefs' two-score lead.
McDermott was asked after the loss if he considered going for it on either occasion.
"I did. Thought about it on both occasions, really," he said. "Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would've went for maybe one of 'em. But the one before the half, for sure, I wanted to get points. We were having trouble coming up with points and I wanted to at least have something to show for it going into half, especially knowing they were getting the ball after half. I'll look back at that and I'll go back and re-evalute that, especially the one after half there. As an entire team, we'll learn from this experience."
Allen took responsibility for the up-and-down offensive play and red-zone struggles, knowing he needed to play better to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs.
"I didn't perform well enough to help this team win tonight," Allen said. "To score 24 points against this team usually doesn't do it. ... We moved the ball well enough. We got down to the red zone, but we couldn't get the ball in the end zone. A couple bad decisions on my part,"
Allen finished 28-of-48 passing for 287 yards, two TDs and 1 INT.
An awesome season for Allen ended in a bad day at the office for the young QB.
"We didn't execute, I didn't execute how I should've," Allen reiterated. "I didn't perform well enough for this team. When you're going against the reigning Super Bowl Champs who are [14-2] and the No. 1 seed, at Arrowhead and you don't have your A-game, you're not gonna win the game. And that's what it was, just a couple decisions early on, trying to press. I think in the second half, we kinda got things going a little bit better, but our red zone efficiency, settle for field goals when you got to score touchdowns against these guys. That's basically it."
The Bills didn't score enough TDs.
There is promise for the future in Buffalo, starting with Allen. Next time the Bills just need to punch the ball into the end zone and not settle for field goals.