Missed Wide-Right Kick Leaves Bills Facing Tough Decisions

Buffalo has lost to the Chiefs three times in the last four years

Tyler Bass reacts after missing a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Tyler Bass's missed field goal could have major implications.
Al Bello/Getty

Buffalo once again fell victim to a field-goal failure when Tyler Bass missed a 44-yarder with 1:43 remaining on the clock against the Chiefs, as Kansas City escaped with a 27-24 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens. Like the infamous kick that doomed the Bills in Super Bowl XXV 33 years ago, Bass’s boot versus the Chiefs sailed wide right.

The game, which featured five lead changes, marked the third time that Buffalo lost to the Chiefs (who have appeared in every AFC Championship since 2018) in the last four years. It’s really starting to look as if the Bills are never going to be able to get past Kansas City in the postseason, at least as currently constituted. The Bills have made plenty of moves to try to change their nucleus, including parting ways with defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Leslie Frazier before this season and firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey during the year. Now they’ll have to take a serious look at the future of head coach Sean McDermott, who has spent seven years in Buffalo.

General manager Brandon Beane also has some tough decisions facing him when it comes to Buffalo’s roster, as the Bills are projected to be about $45 million over the salary cap and have a lengthy list of impending free agents, including WR Gabe Davis, DE A.J. Epenesa, S Micah Hyde, CB Dane Jackson and DE Shaq Lawson. Star wideout Stefon Diggs, who had just three catches for 21 yards against the Chiefs, is set to carry a $27.9 million cap hit in 2024, and the team may decide it’s time to move on from the 30-year-old, who has had his issues with quarterback Josh Allen over the years. Veteran edge rusher Von Miller, 34, carries a $23.8 million cap hit and is also in danger of being cut by the team.

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In general, the Bills have drafted well under Beane and played good football under McDermott, but it certainly feels like Buffalo will have to do something differently if they want to get past Mahomes and the Chiefs. Beane isn’t going anywhere, but McDermott no longer has Frazier or Dorsey to use as a shield and could be on the chopping block. It’s also probably unfair, but it’s hard to imagine the Bills rolling out Bass as their starting kicker next season, given the way Sunday’s game ended (he took all the blame for the missed kick).

Speaking after the loss, Allen was asked what tweaks the Bills need to make to get over the hump. “I don’t think it’s a big change,” he said. “I think it’s just, again, we’ve got to find a way to score one more point than they do. And every season, if you don’t win, it’s a failed season. That’s the nature of the business. There’s one happy team at the end of the season, really. And when it’s not you and you’re so close, it sucks.”

That happy team is not going to be Buffalo as long as Mahomes is around — and unless the Bills make some changes.

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