Bills Cement Their Reputation as Choke Artists With Shocking Loss to Vikings
The Buffalo Bills are one of the best teams in the NFL this year, but they have repeatedly choked in close games both this year and last. In games decided by nine or more points, the Bills are an astounding 16-1. In one-possession games decided by eight or less, Buffalo is an equally perplexing 2-9 now. And for a franchise that lost four Super Bowls in the 1990s, these close losses fit perfectly into the narrative that the Bills, as the great Tony Kornheiser would say, are choking dogs.
The same Bills problems show up in their close losses
The Bills showed off a lot of resilience on Sunday vs. the Minnesota Vikings, with goal line stands and big first-down conversion, but they were up three scores in the third quarter, so you can’t call this anything but a choke job.
And when Josh Allen and company are rolling — which they often are — it doesn’t matter how Bills play in the final minutes of regulation or overtime. The Bills’ 16-1 record in nine-plus-point games illustrates this point perfectly.
However, what the Bills showed off on Sunday vs. the Vikings is how they earned that 2-9 record in one-score games. The cocktail for a close Bills loss involves penalties, turnovers, drops, and an inability to stop the other team’s superstar players.
This is what happened in Week 9 vs. the New York Jets, Week 3 vs. the Miami Dolphins, and in the 2021 AFC Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Against the Jets, it was Gabriel Davis dropping a 70-yard dime on the final Bills drive. Against the Dolphins, it was losing the turnover and penalty battle with seven flags for 52 yards. And against the Chiefs, it was letting Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce run wild with 13-seconds left and in overtime.
In all those games, while there was one main culprit that showed up more than others, they all showed up at some point.
In the Bills Week 10 loss to the Vikings, all these factors showed up in a huge way and at the worst times.
Up 27-10 with less than 20 minutes of game time to go, the Bills should have beat the Vikings easily. After a Josh Allen interception, though, the Bills D couldn’t contain Justin Jefferson (10 catches, 193 yards, one TD), both sides of the ball took bad penalties, and Allen fumbled the ball in the end zone when all he needed to do was sneak the ball for one yard to win the game.
Sure, there are plenty of excuses right now for the Bills. Allen’s elbow is hurt. The team’s dynamic safety dup of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are out for the season and were out for this game, respectively. And the team’s best CB, Tre’Davious White (who likely would have been covering Jefferson in many high-leverage situations), hasn’t returned from a knee injury last season.
Despite all these legitimate reasons, the Bills aren’t at full strength right now. Still, the truth remains that the Bills are losing close games with the same type of mistakes over and over again the last two seasons.
After the game and Josh Allen’s game-ending interception, the QB said of the game it was a “horrendous second half” and that he’s “gotta be better.” He’s right, of course, but the L isn’t just on him. It was an entire team effort to blow that game, and this includes the coaching staff.
Sean McDermott, Ken Dorsey, and Leslie Frazier all need to accept responsibility for these choking losses in close games and figure out how to change the tide. If not, Bills Mafia is in for a familiar sight in January. It’s one they’ve become familiar with over the last 30-plus years of heartbreaking losses.