KANSAS CITY (WIVB) – Coming into this game with Kansas City, the Bills defense had been playing lights out and leading the league or near the top of multiple defensive statistics not to mention came up with two shutouts in three games.
Here comes the but…
…BUT they also didn’t exactly face playoff caliber offenses or quarterbacks playing Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke and Davis Mills the past three weeks. So this in some ways was kind of a measuring stick game for the Bills defense to see where they really are going against not only a good offense but one of the best in the league with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
And the Bills proved their play was no fluke. This defense is for real as it dominated the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in a 38-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
Mahomes is known for making explosive plays downfield and the Bills defense did a tremendous job limiting those, in fact Mahomes’ longest pass play was to Mecole Hardman for 26 yards.
“What 15’s able to do after he drops back and nobody’s open right away, you know the way he buys time is one of the best in the league so we knew once he did that we had to find the receivers. Nobody real came out of coverage and just lock to the receivers,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said.
And they set the tone early. The Chiefs took their opening drive 56 yards on 17 plays in six minutes and 29 seconds but the Bills held them to just a field goal. That was a prime example of the way they want opposing offenses, especially this one, to “nickel and dime” their way down the field and not get those chunk plays.
That’s why Mahomes’ favorite target, Tyreek Hill wasn’t nearly as productive as he can be. The Bills held Hill to just seven catches for 63 yards. A big reason for that is the job Taron Johnson did in coverage on Hill most of the night. Johnson led the Bills with 12 tackles and a pass breakup, fresh off signing a three-year contract extension over the weekend.
The Bills were also able to limit Travis Kelce’s production holding him to just six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
As if containing those two wasn’t enough, then there’s the takeaways. I said this on Buffalo Kickoff Live, continuing to force turnovers was going to be a big key in this game, as it is every week, but maybe even more so against Mahomes and company. Coming into this week, the Bills led the league in takeaways with 11 while the Chiefs had the third most giveaways with seven (and six of those came in their two losses combined).
In the first quarter, Siran Neal forced a fumble on Byron Pringle as he was returning a kickoff and Andre Smith recovered. Then the other three takeaways came in the second half as Hyde had a pick-six then the very next series Greg Rousseau tipped a pass to himself and came down with his first career interception.
“Hands up was a huge thing throughout the week and Greg, he’s big as hell, he was able to get his hand up and make a play, a huge play, huge play,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.
On the Chiefs’ last drive, Mahomes fumbled and Tre’Davious White was there to recover and seal the win.
Not only were those takeaways big for obvious reasons, but also because the Bills led 24-13 at halftime, which we know could dwindle quickly if Mahomes and the Chiefs offense got going, especially after having over an hour during a weather delay to make any kind of adjustments.
“We had some big takeaways in that second half, that’s really what took it over the edge but we knew they were gonna come out there and keep fighting,” Hyde said.
So the Bills get their revenge from that AFC title game loss last year at Arrowhead (even though they won’t admit it was actually revenge) and now Buffalo is the team to beat in the AFC, probably even the entire NFL. The Bills are in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting that number one seed and putting themselves in position to host the AFC Championship game, but that’s way down the line.
“I’ve been in this league long enough to understand that stuff, you know head to head late in the season, it’s huge. But it’s week five we’re not throwing all our marbles into this game. We understand it’s a good road win for us, any game, any win is a huge win and we’re thankful we got that today,” Hyde explained.
“It’s week five, it’s still early in the season obviously it’s a big road win for us. There’s still some mistakes out there we can learn from and it’s still early in the season,” Poyer echoed.