The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills game yesterday was so filled with ups and downs that I ended up writing the post game story to it three times. First, it was a post about how the Chiefs didn't take the Bills seriously enough and botched the game in the final four minutes. Then, it was about how play calling cost the Chiefs a chance at an overtime field goal.
Then, I was writing the Chiefs lost post game when Lindell was lining up for the Bills' first field goal attempt in OT. I didn't start writing my Chiefs win article until after the game was done. It was too crazy even up until the last seconds.
When you have a game like that, it usually means you have two teams who aren't taking advantage of opportunities. The Chiefs and Bills were both guilty of not taking advantage of opportunities yesterday.
To illustrate how up and down this game truly was, I give you five plays that, if they turned out differently, would have changed the outcome of the game:
You can pick out plays in every NFL game that, if played out differently, would have changed the out come of the game. But the key when checking out these plays is to remember that they all happened with four or less minutes to go in regulation or in overtime. And if each of these plays had gone more in favor of one team or the other, the game could have been won on that play or possibly the next one.
#1 LB Mike Vrabel's botched fumble recovery
The Bills were down by a touchdown with four minutes to go, with the ball at the Chiefs' 17-yard line. Bills' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick drops back, dumps the ball off to the right to Lee Evans, who goes only about a yard before a Brandon Flowers hit causes him to cough up the ball.
With the ball squirming inches from the white out of bounds chalk, LB Mike Vrabel barreled in to grab the ball in the pile. Vrabel recovered the fumble. The problem was that his left elbow was clearly out of bounds when he did it. The refs originally awarded the ball to the Chiefs but the call was overturned by a Chan Gailey challenge. The Bills scored the game tying touchdown four plays later.
If Vrabel makes that fumble recovery, I almost guarantee the Chiefs win in regulation.
#2 Todd Haley's first timeout/Dustin Colquitt and Terrance Copper tackling Roscoe Parrish
After Buffalo tied the score at ten, the Chiefs quickly found themselves at 3rd and 1 with 1:36 left to play. For some reason we'll get into later, the Charlie Weis called a pass and the Chiefs failed the conversion. However, KC lined up like they were going to go for it, hiked the ball and Matt Cassel jumped the over the front line for an apparent first down.
Nope. Todd Haley had called a time out. The Chiefs decided to punt instead and it turned out to be a bad idea. Bills KR Roscoe Parrish nearly took the ball back to midfield with 1:17 left. Yes, that it was bad to give up a 33-yard return with literally seconds to go but I have to point out Dustin Colquitt calmly blocking Parrish's route on the return, forcing Parrish to turn inside and eventually get tackled.
Without Dustin Colquitt, the Bills may have scored a touchdown or have been even closer for a field goal. It was a huge, quiet stop by the punter. Of course, the Chiefs wouldn't have had to punt if Haley didn't call the timeout right before the snap. Two more plays that changed the game.
#3 S Eric Berry's interception
After that solid punt return, the Bills got the ball down to the KC 41-yard line with 32 seconds left. The Bills had plenty of timeouts and only needed about 6-7 more yards to get into field goal range. Instead, the ball slips out of Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands on third down and into the waiting hands of rookie safety Eric Berry. His second pick in two weeks and this one was a game changer.
I thought the BIlls had a great shot to win the game at that point. I even started writing the post game article about how the Chiefs lost. But nope, Eric Berry saved the day. Huge play.
#4 Todd Haley's OT timeout
After a rather dominating drive to get the Bills in field goal position with 7:13 left in overtime, Bills K Rian Lindell launched a wobbly 53-yarder that went through the uprights. I thought game over until I heard the announced say Todd Haley had called a timeout before the kick.
The field goal wasn't good and neither was Lindell's second attempt. HUGE timeout call by Haley. Just huge.
#5 LB Tamba Hali's QB pressure in OT
Tamba Hali was a monster all game - 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles (one for a loss) and three QB hurries. His biggest QB hurry came with 1:24 left in overtime.
The Bills were driving at the KC 42-yard line. It was 3rd and 10. If the Bills got a first down here, the odds are they were going to win this game. Instead, LB Tamba Hali chased Ryan Fitzpatrick down, grabbed him and forced the QB to intentionally ground the ball. 15-yard penalty. Chiefs ball. They would win it on the next drive.