GREEN BAY, Wis. – Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills lost a playoff classic to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
It was a gut-punch loss for the Bills and their star young quarterback, who was absolutely magnificent in a shootout with Patrick Mahomes.
Trailing 26-21 in the final minutes, Allen led Buffalo on an epic 17-play touchdown drive to put it on top 29-26 with 1:56 to play. Allen converted a third-and-3 with a pass and a third-and-4, third-and-1 and fourth-and-4 with runs before firing a 27-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis on fourth-and-13. Allen’s play-extending, two-point pass to Stefon Diggs put Buffalo in front by a field goal.
That put the game in the hands of the NFL’s No. 1 defense but it couldn’t lay a finger on Tyreek Hill on his 64-yard touchdown sprint.
Still, Allen had 1:02 to drive the Bills down the field. And he did. With 13 seconds to go, Davis caught his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 19-yarder, to put Buffalo ahead 36-33.
Surely, the Bills had won this time. Right? Nope. A squib kick would have burned some time off the clock. Instead, the kick was boomed into the end zone, giving Patrick Mahomes a chance with three timeouts. A quick pass to Hill gained 19, and a short pass to Travis Kelce gained 25. Harrison Butker drilled a 49-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
You know the rest. The Chiefs won the toss, Mahomes led them to a touchdown and Allen’s season ended in agonizing fashion with his butt planted on the bench. For fans who thought that was the worst beat a team and its quarterback had ever suffered, Aaron Rodgers says, “Hold my scotch.”
Rodgers has suffered more playoff heartbreak than most franchises. There was the 51-45 loss at Arizona in 2009, when the refs ignored a blatant hands-to-the-face penalty that turned into his season-ending fumble. There was the 28-22 loss at Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship Game at Seattle, a team-wide meltdown in which the Packers lost the overtime coin toss and never got the ball. There were walk-off field goals in losses to San Francisco in 2013 and on Saturday.
But nothing held a candle to the 2015 divisional-round loss at Arizona. With Jordy Nelson out with a torn ACL and Davante Adams inactive because of a knee injury, the Packers rolled into Arizona with Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jared Abbrederis as the primary receivers. Cobb was lost on the opening series to a punctured lung that he blamed on being mic’d-up.
The Cardinals took a 17-13 with 3:45 to go in regulation when Damarious Randall broke up a pass and the ball ricocheted almost 10 yards over Casey Hayward and into the hands of Michael Floyd for a touchdown.
Green Bay trailed 20-13 and faced a fourth-and-20 from its 4 with 55 seconds remaining. Rodgers lined up in shotgun, got the snap, spun hard to his left and threw a bomb to Jeff Janis for 60 yards to the 36. After a penalty and an incompletion, the Packers were down to one play. Rodgers got immediate pressure in his face and spun to his left to buy time. Just as he was about to be belted by Markus Golden, Rodgers uncorked a Hail Mary that was answered by Janis, who made a leaping grab in front of Patrick Peterson for the tying touchdown.
You know the rest. The Cardinals won the coin toss, Carson Palmer spun away from Mike Neal’s potential sack and found Larry Fitzgerald wide open at the 35. He broke four tackles en route to a 75-yard gain that set up the game-ending touchdown.
Of Rodgers’ 10 playoff losses, six have been decided by one score, including three in overtime and two on walk-off field goals.