Bills’ decision to serve up touchback gave Chiefs more time to force OT

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
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There’s an important P.S. to Sunday night’s epic game between the Bills and Chiefs. After Buffalo took a 36-33 lead and before the road team allowed Kansas City to get into field-goal range after only two plays, the Bills opted to kick the ball into the end zone.

That gave Patrick Mahomes the ball at his own 25, without a single one of the remaining 13 seconds evaporating from the clock.

If the Chiefs had been required to return the kick, how much time would have elapsed? Would they have been able to run two plays before the game-tying field goal?

In his Football Morning in America column, Peter King shares a text he received from a coach regarding Buffalo’s decision to kick away: “No! The Bills should have made the Chiefs return the ball and start the drive with only eight or nine seconds left. That way, they’d have had one play, not two, to get into field-goal position.”

Instead, the Chiefs gained 19 on the first play (thanks to Mahomes connecting with Tyreek Hill) and 25 on the next (thanks to Mahomes finding Travis Kelce). Armed with a full complement of timeouts, the Chiefs didn’t need to try to spike the ball or do anything fancy.

That said, the Chiefs could have returned the kickoff for a touchdown. If they had, would anyone have accepted the argument that a touchback would have given Mahomes two plays to get in field-goal range, and that he would have?

If anyone playing against Mahomes in the future is ever in that same position, no one will say that Mahomes couldn’t have pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Or elsewhere.

48 responses to “Bills’ decision to serve up touchback gave Chiefs more time to force OT

  1. Everyone in America was simultaneously thinking squib kick or air ball to the 5 yd line – make em field it – except Sean MacDermott – that was a First Team All Pro Coaching Blunder

  2. if you kick it high up then the kick return team would get down there in time to cover it. these kickers are showing off tricks like kicking a ball into a garbage can from 40 yards away. you cant tell me bass couldnt design a kick to land between the 5 and 15 yard line that is high enough to let his coverage team get to the returner.
    also, actually play defense, and cover the 2 most likely targets.

  3. As long as he’s their headcoah, they’re not going to win anything other than playoffs and done.

  4. I remember years ago, I think it was Matt Ryan’s rookie year the Bears tried this with 11 seconds left. Needless to say they squibbed it, Atlanta got the ball further out than if they kicked a touchback, one big passing play and then kicked a game winning field goal.

  5. Sorry but when you score and leave 14 seconds on the clock, you have to believe that you have won. Everyone that watches football thought that game was over. And until last night, they were all correct. The Bills just got Mahomed last night. After the first pass down the middle of the field, the Bills D might have noticed that they should cover ALL the receivers. They didn’t. And the rest is history.

  6. Tremaine Edmunds is out there lost in space and confused by Reid and Mahomes two years in a row.

  7. The Bills should have squib kicked. For these reasons. 1) Time comes off the clock. 2) If the ball gets back to the returner, he is in an unnatural position. The returner is used to looking up to catch the kickoff, in this case he has to field a bouncing ball, which means his eyes are down. 3) It’s possible one of the players up from the returner tries to play hero, and bobbles the ball; again it is not a natural move to field a bouncing ball. 4) if bobbled the Bills could take possession.

  8. I always wonder why defenders tackle players in the middle of the field when the clock is running out. Defend the sidelines to keep them inbounds, hold them up and keep their progress forward, or let them catch it and hit the ground untouched until the clock expires. Players only give themselves up when they slide.

  9. Rex Ryan was adamant this morning that the Bills should have squib-kicked it. He even went so far as to say that Sean McDermott’s answer to a question about it made him wonder if that had been McDermott’s plan, but somehow the kicker didn’t get the message.

  10. Bills let Kelce run a simple seam pattern, nobody even close to him. That was horrible. At least make him earn it, there was only 8 seconds left.

    Bills coaching lost that game

    Can Edmunds cover anyone? Guy is always out of position or a step behind.

  11. I always wonder why defenders tackle players in the middle of the field when the clock is running out. Defend the sidelines to keep them inbounds, hold them up and keep their progress forward, or let them catch it and hit the ground untouched until the clock expires. Players only give themselves up when they slide.

    If a player is untouched but goes to a knee the clock will stop. Have you ever watched a kickoff return where the up man goes down immediately untouched and the clock stops?

  12. Squib kick, then just tackle all the receivers at the line of scrimmage or on their route. No way you can let them get behind you in that situation.

  13. Is Scott Farkus still employed this morning after the greatest coaching blunder in postseason history?

  14. When you have to PRESS coverage, even if you have to hold the receivers at the line, then DO it …

  15. I wouldn’t have argued at all had they squibbed it; but a ‘really high’ kick would have been fair-caught; it also would have allowed the possibility of a long return, even though time would have run off the clock. Face it: everyone (including Chiefs fans) thought the game was over, since we’ve never seen 13 seconds used that efficiently like, you know, ever. It wasn’t a bad decision by the Bills; they believed their defense could stop KC from going 50 yards in 2 plays and there’s no reason to think that was obviously wrong. Just turned out crazy.

  16. And here I thought Aaron Rodgers’ 37 second drive against the 49’ers earlier this year was miraculous. 13 seconds. Mahomes is the Grim Reaper.

  17. A squib kick is the wrong approach, also. The move was to kick high to the 5 yd. line. Make the Bills return the ball – but from deep. We see teams do this all the time. That would have EASILY taken 6 seconds off the clock. Even if the return comes out to the 35 there’s no way to get off a play to get in FG range and also have time left. Squib kicks sometimes get covered by an up-man, and when he gives himself up the clock stops. You want a player running with ball — and the clock running.

    Time management – specially lack of it — continues to be the most glaring issue among NFL coaches and players.

  18. Anyone who doesn’t think they should have just kicked a very high kickoff that lands at the 10-15 is flat out wrong. Either you get 4-5 seconds off the clock or if they fair catch you get 10-15 yards of field position. No brainer!

  19. touchback6 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 9:53 am
    LOL!

    Bills with an time classic choke job

    ———-

    And to think this same Bills team throttled the Patriots just one week before. Another in a long line of BB postseason defensive meltdowns

  20. Generally agree on the squib kick. But KC’s return guys are fast, like real fast. And better hope it doesn’t bounce out of bounds or they start at the 40. Still, probably should have tried to squib it

  21. nhpats2011 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 10:52 am
    touchback6 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 9:53 am
    LOL!

    Bills with an time classic choke job

    ———-

    And to think this same Bills team throttled the Patriots just one week before. Another in a long line of BB postseason defensive meltdowns


    The very same defense that held your boy Brady to a 70 passer rating in one of the biggest regular season games of his life.

    If the Patriots defense is bad then that doesn’t say anything positive about Tommy now does it. 🙂

  22. 99% of the QBs in the league couldn’t move a team 40+ yds in 13 sec, even w/ timeouts. Having said that, if Im Buff, I am squibbing the kick down the field, hopefully to the 10 yd line. If a guy carries it, its 3-4 sec off clock. If he kneels, at least they have more than 40 yds to go. Either way, I would tend to believe that 99% of fans out there felt that Buff had the game won.

  23. Stop listening to Romo that kickoff didn’t lose the game. The Bills defense sticking with the scheme playing off in a a two high safety scheme that Mahomes ate up was the reason they lost.

  24. Squib kick…it would take up at least 5 seconds. If they knee it, it’s inside their own 20. Guarantee Belichick squibs kicks in the situation.

  25. Should of squibbed it for sure but I was more thrown off by some of the Bills coverage choices late. They not only left Kelce all alone on a seam route but on another 3rd and short they had nobody across from him and just let him run 8 yards and turn and catch it. Literally just conceded the first down if the Chiefs were going to throw him the ball. You’d have thought he was some total unknown the way they were ignoring him.

  26. You can debate the kick off, but the Bills lost this game with STUPID coverage on the two throws, handing the FG to the Chiefs on a platter. No Mahomes “magic” there, just stupid coverage and wide open receivers. Good grief…

  27. There in no way that the Bills or any other team doesn’t practice covering all different kinds of kick returns so they should have burned some clock and kicked it to be returned. As others have mentioned the other strategy of taking a holding call at the line for all eligible receivers would also work. Give them 5 yards and a first down in return for 6 seconds. Do it twice if needed. I game can’t end on a defensive penalty but I like their chances when a hail Mary is from 60 to 70 yards away.

  28. prophessor4 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 9:30 am
    if you kick it high up then the kick return team would get down there in time to cover it. these kickers are showing off tricks like kicking a ball into a garbage can from 40 yards away. you cant tell me bass couldnt design a kick to land between the 5 and 15 yard line that is high enough to let his coverage team get to the returner.
    also, actually play defense, and cover the 2 most likely targets.

    ————————————-

    I know nothing about being a kicker. But if it were that easy, wouldn’t that be the preferred kickoff method for *every* kickoff? Kick it high, aim for the 10 yd line?

    They just had a kick returned a long way on them. They felt that the likelihood they could run two semi-deep plays in 13 seconds successfully to get into FG range was small enough to be safer than risking a kick possibly returned for a TD. It’s easy to say NOW what the right answer was.

  29. jimmbrown44 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 11:05 am
    Squib kick…it would take up at least 5 seconds. If they knee it, it’s inside their own 20. Guarantee Belichick squibs kicks in the situation.

    I’m sure he would at least get his team to practice all those situations.

  30. godkingskovald says:
    January 24, 2022 at 9:41 am
    Tremaine Edmunds is out there lost in space and confused by Reid and Mahomes two years in a row.
    ——————————————–
    This. He’s not entirely to blame obviously, but for as good as his draft year teammate Josh Allen is, Edmunds is only average at best. He has absolutely zero football instincts.

  31. There is risk involved with each choice. Kick to the 5 and risk Mahomes at the 40 with 10 seconds. Kick out the end zone and risk giving Mahomes 14 seconds at the 25. Squib kick and see Mahomes at the 50 with 7-9 seconds. The touchback prevents a return for a TD but gives Mahomes 13 seconds to score a TD. Mahomes got 44 yards in less than 14 seconds is there any real doubt that he wasn’t getting 25 if they squib kicked and he was at the 45? The margin on this game was thin that had the Bills called for a run instead of a incomplete pass they would have won. Had Buffalo bled the clock a second on each play on the last drive they likely win. Razor thin margin

  32. hankster1019 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 11:11 am
    You can debate the kick off, but the Bills lost this game with STUPID coverage on the two throws, handing the FG to the Chiefs on a platter. No Mahomes “magic” there, just stupid coverage and wide open receivers. Good grief…


    This. Mahomes understood the situation and knew if he ate them up underneath which he did then his kicker would have a shot.

  33. remizak says:
    January 24, 2022 at 10:05 am
    Rex Ryan was adamant this morning that the Bills should have squib-kicked it. He even went so far as to say that Sean McDermott’s answer to a question about it made him wonder if that had been McDermott’s plan, but somehow the kicker didn’t get the message.
    ___________

    You could probably find a better authority to site other than Rex.

  34. This is why the overtime rule doesn’t bother me. It wasn’t one moment in OT that won the game for the Chiefs – it was a series of plays and decisions, like this one, that did it.

    The game going to overtime at all was something the Bills had the ability to prevent. They had the lead and 13 seconds left.

    If they allowed the Chiefs to march down the field and score in 13 seconds, then didn’t stop a TD drive in OT, why would they deserve an additional chance to win?

  35. This is what cost Buffalo the game, not a coin flip in OT. I feel badly for Josh Allen. He played the game of his life, and one boneheaded coaching decision ruined it. I believe that Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes should be the league MVP, forget Rodgers.

  36. jimmbrown44 says:
    January 24, 2022 at 11:05 am
    Squib kick…it would take up at least 5 seconds. If they knee it, it’s inside their own 20. Guarantee Belichick squibs kicks in the situation.

    5 4 Rate This

    —————-

    Or, he does the high kick inside the 10 and risks it rolling into the end zone. Either way, you try one or the other even if you just take even 2-3 seconds off. The player has to field it, so that’s at least 1 second, if not 2 by the time they kneel down and the whistle blows.

    McDermott seems to be evading criticism today for some odd reason.

    Between that and the defensive collapse. The Bills were all celebrating, too. LOL!

  37. patsfan4lifedynasty says:
    January 24, 2022 at 11:10 am
    Can Josh Allen get over the hump and win a big game? We have yet to see it.

    ————

    Glad to see you don’t count last weeks game against your pats a big game. At least you know they are irrelevant now.

  38. All the Bills defense needed to do was literally hold all of the eligible receivers so that time would have run out and the most yardage gained would have been the 5 yard penalty. Then there would have been an untimed down from the 30 or 35 depending on how many plays were ran. Then all the defense had to do was defend a 70+ yard touchdown.

  39. Looking at YOU Sean. Funny, you always talk to people about football like it’s the most complex mousetrap ever, and YOU invented it. But the simple things have always eluded you.

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