Buffalo's dreams of a first Super Bowl appearance since the 1993 season ended with a 38-24 loss to the defending NFL champions, as only one team in the matchup of the league's top two offenses seemed prepared for a shootout. Bills coach Sean McDermott's decision-making drew questions after the game, particularly about a pair of field goals Buffalo attempted within the Chiefs' 10-yard line.
Rookie Tyler Bass' 20-yard field goal just before halftime and 27-yard field goal in the third quarter were each attempted with the Bills trailing by multiple scores. Although Bass made both attempts, McDermott was asked why he didn't opt to go for it on fourth down from the 2-yard line and the 8-yard line, respectively.
"I thought about going for it on both occasions. Maybe if I had to do it over again, I would have went for maybe one of them," McDermott said. "But the one before the half, 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 the half, especially knowing they were getting the ball after half. I'll look back at that and reevaluate that, especially the one after half there, and as an entire team, we'll learn from the experience."
Emphasizing the problem for Buffalo was that both field goals came in the midst of a 24-6 Kansas City run in the second and third quarters. While the Bills settled for points, the Chiefs answered by scoring a touchdown on five of their eight possessions from the second quarter on, with one field goal and Mahomes taking a knee at the end of the second and fourth quarters.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who threw for 287 yards, two touchdowns and his first career red zone interception, said settling for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone was part of the reason Buffalo lost Sunday -- but also took responsibility for putting McDermott in position to decide between going for it on fourth down and kicking a field goal.
"That's coach's decision," Allen said of the field goals. "We had three downs to get in there prior and we didn't do our job. Lack of communication, lack of execution down there falls on my shoulders."
The Bills should have gone for it on both occasions, according to ESPN's win probability model. On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line at the end of the first half, Buffalo needed a 36% chance to convert to justify going for it, and a league average offense converts there 45% of the time. The decision cost them 1.4 percentage points of win probability.
The Bills needed a 35% conversion chance to justify going for it on fourth-and-3 from the 8-yard line, and league average is 41%. That decision not to go for it cost them 0.7 percentage points of win probability.