Defense struggles to stop potent Kansas City offense

Buffalo Bills

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) scores on a 1-yard touchdown reception during the second half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – They knew who the Chiefs were. They knew what the Chiefs could do on offense. Still, Sunday night was a struggle for the Bills defense, as they failed to stop Kansas City for most of the game, allowing 38 points to the defending Super Bowl champions.

“This is a tough one to swallow because we got to where we were so close, climbing that mountain and to be so close and to get knocked down sucks, but we’ve got a great group of guys in the locker room,” defensive lineman Jerry Hughes said.

Buffalo stopped Kansas City on their first offensive possession, holding the Chiefs to a three and out. From there, things got tough for the defense. Kansas City scored on every possession except for two for the rest of the game. The two possessions that didn’t result in points were at the end of the first half when they kneeled to run out the clock, and at the end of the game…when they kneeled to run out the clock.

“I think for us we were just trying to find ways to stop the bleeding,” Hughes said. “It’s a high-powered offense, a well-coached team, they’ve got a great head coach and a great offensive coordinator so for us we just tip our hats to them. They came out and they played well. They were the better team tonight.”

“I wouldn’t say we weren’t prepared,” linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “Anytime you play an offense like that, obviously they’re going to throw you some things that may be the first time you’ve seen it, but we all know that’s a good offense, but at the end of the day we have to do a better job of executing defensively and just finding ways to get off the field, finding ways to get stops.”

“I think us playing a little bit more aggressively, putting more guys in the box, I think that helped a little bit, but at the end of the day they made more plays than us, whether that was running the ball or passing the ball,” safety Jordan Poyer said.

Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill did a number on the stat sheet. Kelce had 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s kind of like freestyle ball they was playing out there,” Edmunds said. “They had a good game plan, just finding ways to get him open and a lot of times we didn’t execute as good as we could have executed. You can’t make excuses for it. They had a good plan and executed well, we just had to make more plays defensively.”

Hill had nine catches for 172 yards. He and Kelce combined for 22 catches and 290 yards through the air.

“They’re a great football team for a reason,” safety Micah Hyde said. “They’re defending champs for a reason. They’ve got weapons all over the field. Obviously a lot of people try to limit them from giving up explosive plays up top, so they just run the ball. Then you try to stop the run, they’ve got guys on the outside, 87 [Travis Kelce] and 10 [Tyreek Hill] that can kill you. You saw tonight, 87 was open, 10 was just catching these little short balls or whatever and going off so it’s difficult. They’re a difficult team to play. Like I said we feel like we came in with a good gameplan and then we just couldn’t stop the bleeding once it started going…”

“They were able to make some plays, create some plays like they’ve done all season long,” Poyer said. “Smart football players, Travis Kelce’s been playing a long time so he understands leverages, he understands soft spots in the zone. They called all the right plays today and we weren’t able to handle them.”

Hughes said he was personally disappointed in his own performance on some of the plays. He gave a lot of credit to the Bills offense, but felt the defense could have played better to help out the other side of the ball.

“Our offense went out there and played well,” Hughes said. “We’ve got to show up especially in that second quarter and in that third quarter. We talked about we just need to find a way to get two stops for them so they can get the ball back in their hands. Our special teams did a fantastic job of recovering the onside kick late in the game to give us some life. It’s just up to us. When you’re on the road in a hostile environment, the defense we’ve got to show up. There’s a couple of times where myself personally there was some plays I saw. I studied film well I saw some intel I’ve got to do a better job as a leader to put myself in position to make those plays so we can be on the winning side.”

This defense has showed up several times throughout the year when people doubted them, but Sunday’s AFC Championship didn’t work out the way they wanted. It’s a disappointing end to a season filled with Super Bowl dreams.

“Obviously everybody’s upset, being one game away from the Super Bowl,” Edmunds said. “It definitely hurts. Like you said, I think everybody can agree to how we prepared for this. We gave it our all. Preparation throughout the week was top tier so it’s nothing to put our heads down. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want it to go and we’ve just got to keep our heads up.”

“I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish this year,” Hyde said. “I’m proud of the guys in that locker room.”

“It sucks, man,” Poyer said. “Like you said, you put in so much work. It’s special, with the guys you grinded with every day and to fall short, you know it’s hard to explain man. We had such a close bond with the guys in our locker room. There’s a lot of emotions. Nobody wanted to go home today. It’s just tough man.”

Hughes said this is a tough loss, but it could be the fuel they need for next season.

“We fell short tonight, the Chiefs played tremendous ball, we didn’t bring our A-game and so the results stand as they were, but I feel like this feeling we’re going to remember this feeling in the offseason,” Hughes said. “It’s something that’ll carry us through.”

“Everybody’s still motivated,” Edmunds said. “Everybody’s talking about getting back to work already. We know we’ve got a lot more work to do. We still have a lot of room for growth so we’ve just got to get back to the drawing boards and next year come out stronger.”

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