Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs: Position Grades

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By Arjun Pindiprolu

JAMIE GERMANO/ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 

The Bills fell to the Chiefs 42-36 in heartbreaking fashion to end their inconsistent 2021-2022 season. This is the 2nd straight season in which they have lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. Let’s dive into the positional grades from the Divisional Round matchup that ended the Bills season.

Quarterback

Josh Allen recorded the highest QBR for a quarterback in the playoffs ever with a rating of 149. The highest possible rating is a 158.3 which means Allen’s postseason performance was one of the greatest ever, however it didn’t result in a superbowl win for the Bills. He did everything in his power to win the game and essentially had 2 game winning drives with little help from any receiver other than Gabriel Davis. Allen finished the game with a statline of 329 passing yards, 68 rushing yards, and 4 passing touchdowns. He ended his 3rd postseason with 637 passing yards, 134 rushing yards, and 9 passing touchdowns. The record for passing touchdowns in single postseason is 11 that was achieved by Joe Flacco(2012), Kurt Waner(2008), and Joe Montana(1989). Allen consistently flashed his ability to escape the pocket and flashed his arm strength on nearly every single throw. Allen proved to the league he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and worth the $258 million dollar contract he signed at the beginning of the season. 

Grade: A+

Running Back

After a strong finish to the season, Devin Singletary was virtually invisible in the running game. In his 3 previous games, Singletary had rushed for a total of 279 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Brian Daboll made it a point of emphasis to sprinkle in the running game more as to not make the offense one-dimensional. However, Singletary only had 10 carries for 26 yards and a touchdown. Zack Moss didn’t play a single snap and Matt Breida was inactive for the game. Singletary helped contribute in the passing game as a safety valve for Josh Allen. He had 4 receptions for 25 yards, but he didn’t record a single reception in the 2nd half. Due to the Chiefs offense, passing the ball was the only way to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes. I believe the Bills lack of rushing yards was due to the matchup and not their inability to run the ball.

Grade: B+

JAMIE GERMANO/ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 

Wide Receivers:

Most fans remember the photo of Stefon Diggs watching the AFC trophy presentation last year after the loss to the Chiefs. However, Diggs was shutdown in this game with only 3 receptions and 7 yards. He did have massive catch on a 2-point conversion to put the Bills up 36-33. For a superstar receiver this was a disappointing performance and if not for the Bills offensive success this would be a huge talking point moving into the offseason. Cole Beasley recorded his typical statline with 6 receptions for 60 yards. Allen turned to him frequently in the 2nd half as his chceckdown. It remains to be seen if he will return to the team next year especially considering his vaccination status and how outspoken he is on the topic. The big storyline in the group was Gabriel Davis who had the most receiving touchdowns in a postseason game(4). Davis was often wide open due to blown coverages and his route running. He had 8 receptions for 201 yards and proved that going into next year he is more than capable of being their WR2. Emmanuel Sanders appeared to be retired before this game even started. He wa limited to 1 catch for 16 yards. It came on the drive that put the Bills up 36-33 with 13 seconds remaining. Sanders only appeared in 17 snaps which is due to his age, injuries, and talent in the Bills wide receivier group. Isaiah McKenzie played his role as a gadget player perfectly even in his limited snap count(16). McKenzie had a total of 18 yards and served as the kick returner as well. Outside of Davis and Beasley, the wide receiving group had a subpar day. 

Grade: B

Tight Ends/Fullbacks:

Tommy Sweeney was inactive as usual so the only tight end was Dawson Knox. Knox had a breakout season in which he recorded 49 receptions for 587 yards and 9 receiving touchdowns. He had a disappointing playoff game against the Chiefs with only 2 receptions for 9 yards and 1 drop. Drops have plagued his career and are the only thing holding him back from being an elite tight end. Reggie Gilliam who served as a blocker for the whole season had 2 catches for 8 yards. Based on Knox’s performance and Tyrann Mathieu not playing for most of the game, it was a discouraging game from the position group.

Grade: C-

Offensive Line:

The offensive line that had come on strong at the end of the season had a very strong game. Although Melvin Ingram seemed to apply a lot of pressure,  he only recorded 1 of the Chiefs 2 sacks. Chris Jones, their star interior defensive lineman, only recorded 1 tackle and made no impact plays. The credit goes to Ryan Bates, Mitch Morse, and Darryl Williams for limiting his effect on the game. Spencer Brown also flashed in this game against Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram. Of the rookies drafted this year by the Bills, he had the best season and biggest impact. His ceiling is very high and the way he plays with a nasty edge is encouraging moving forward. Allen was given plenty of time on most throws and extended plays when he had to.

Grade: A-

JAMIE GERMANO/ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 

Defensive Ends:

Brandon Beane built this year’s team to beat Kansas City which factored into their decision to draft Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham Jr. in the first 2 rounds of the NFL Draft this year. The ends were able to pressure Mahomes consistently and rarely gave him a clean pocket. When the play broke down though they were unable to contain Mahomes and the big play. This was evident on the first drive when Mahomes rushed for 49 rushing yards and a touchdown. Their inability to sack Mahomes consistently led to Kansas City extending drives and scoring at will. No defensive end recorded a sack for the Bills. Boogie Basham did flash on certain plays but pressures do not stop Patrick Mahomes.

Grade: C

Defensive Tackles:

Ed Oliver and Harrison Phillips put together a solid game after a great season in the middle of the line. Oliver notched a sack, two tackles for a loss, and two QB hits. This game put all of Oliver’s strengths on display and he proved why he was selected top 10 in the 2019 NFL Draft. Harrison Phillips had 4 tackles and Loutulelei added 3 of his own. Moving into next year, fans should be confident if Phillips and Oliver remain as the Bills starting interior lineman. 

Grade: B+

Linebackers:

Although Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds combined for 20 tackles, this was one of their worst games of the season. They struggled to cover Travis Kelce who finished with 8 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Milano is widely regarded as one of the best pass coverage linebackers however he struggled in this game. Tremaine Edmunds also was often lost in coverage and run plays as well. One notable play was Mecole Hardman’s 26 yard reception in overtime. He was the reason the coverage was blown in a similar play to Breshad Periman’s game winning touchdown in overtime against the Buccaneers. Edmunds will return next year in the biggest season of his career. 

Grade: C-

JAMIE GERMANO/ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 

Defensive Backs:

Until the end of the game, the secondary forced Mahomes to rely on checkdowns to move down the field. The last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter and overtime saw Patrick Mahomes throw for 188 yards and and 2 touchdownds. Levi Wallace and Dane Jackson struggled against the speed of Tyreek Hill and Byron Pringle. Taron Johnson had a solid game against Tyreek Hill for the most part until the end of the game. The 10 second scoring drive for the Chiefs should be attributed to failed coaching rather than the players. The Bills would have likely been able to shutdown Tyreek Hill had Tre White been healthy. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde didn’t have their strongest game after a career year for both of them. Mahomes is one of the hardest quarterbacks to shutdown and he proved it in this game.

Grade: C

Special Teams:

Tyler Bass was perfect on all 4 of his extra point attempts. Matt Haack had a solid game overall consdering the poor performances he has had this year. Tyreek Hill’s 45-yard punt return was the biggest blemish for the coverage team. Haack downed the Chiefs at their own 2-yard line on their 2nd possession of the game which led to a 3-and-out. Hyde and McKenzie didn’t make any big plays in the return game which was to be expected.

Grade:B-

Coaching:

Brian Daboll may have coached himself into a head coaching job with the Giants after an outstanding job in this game. His counterpart Leslie Frazier didn’t improve his chances at becoming a head coach. The last 13 seconds in the 4th quarter may have sealed his fate and locked him into being the defensive coordinator for the 6th straight year with the Buffalo Bills. Sean McDermott was once again outcoached by tthe genius known as Andy Reid. Going into the offseason, there will be many position coaches that will need to be evaluated.

Grade: C