It was another week — and another one-score loss where the Kansas City Chiefs had every opportunity to win the game. On Sunday, the Chiefs dropped a tough 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. But even in defeat, there were quite a few good individual performances.
Here are a few who stood out on Sunday.
EDGE George Karlaftis: Furious George got what would have been his tenth sack of the season to end a Bills drive with two minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, Jaylen Watson was flagged for illegal contact, setting up the Bills’ go-ahead field goal. Karlaftis got his ninth sack of the season in the first half — and was close to another in a very big moment. His strong season continues.
Defensive back Chamarri Conner: Already shorthanded, the Chiefs' secondary lost Justin Reid for a couple of stretches against the Bills. But the rookie stepped in and made one of the biggest plays of the game. While Buffalo was up 14-0 and driving, Conner came up with the interception that set up Kansas City’s first touchdown.
Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed: Spending most of his time working against the Bills’ top receiver Stephon Diggs, Sneed recorded three pass breakups and no penalties — all while limiting Diggs to four catches and 24 yards on 11 targets.
Left tackle Wanya Morris: In his first career start, the rookie held up pretty well. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was only sacked once — and it wasn’t Morris’ guy. It looks like Kansas City just might have something in Morris. The team could continue to let him be the starter on the blind side.
Running back Jerick McKinnon: It wasn’t a huge role; he had seven touches for 38 yards and a score. But McKinnon made some of the types of plays that made him a fan favorite in 2022. He helped move the chains — and pushed over the goal line for a touchdown.
Wide receiver Rashee Rice: I don’t care that he lost a fumble. Rice was still the most impactful player on the offense. His production — seven catches, 72 yards and a score — means that he should continue getting 10 targets a game. The Chiefs’ offense needs more of Rice’s physical style of play — along with his ability to make things happen downfield and after the catch.
Tight end Travis Kelce: Kelce also got 10 targets, ending up with 83 yards to lead the team. But as Mahomes pointed out after the game, he was robbed of a career-highlight play when he caught a pass deep down the field and lateraled it back to Kadarius Toney for what could have been the game-winning score. Alas... referee Carl Cheffers was at it again.
Kicker Harrison Butker: Fifty-four kicks, fifty-four makes! What a season Butker is having! My only worry is jinxing him by talking too much about it.
Defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton: It’s been a quiet season for the fourth-year pro. Unfortunately, when we noticed him during Sunday’s game, it wasn’t for great reasons. With Buffalo up 7-0, Josh Allen ran the ball on second-and-goal. At about the 4-yard line, Wharton bear-hugged the Bills’ quarterback — and Allen carried him to the end zone.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones: It had to be a frustrating night for Jones. While he got to Allen on several occasions, he was never able to bring him down. Jones finished with three quarterback hits — but no sacks, tackles or big plays. His frustration was evident; a loud conversation between Jones and defensive line coach Joe Cullen resulted in a smashed tablet.
Safety Mike Edwards: Box score analysts might be confused, because Edwards led the team in tackles — but to my eye, he was a big part of the reason Buffalo running back James Cook ended up with more than 140 total yards and a wide-open touchdown. Edwards was fooled (and caught flat-footed) on the early score — and made several of his tackles at least 10 yards downfield.
Linebacker Leo Chenal: Like with Edwards, the second-year player’s game could look a little different after a closer rewatch — but from the broadcast, it appeared that Chenal was getting a little lost in space. Some of Allen’s most spectacular plays while improvising under pressure came at the Chenal’s expense; he seemed to be confused about where he should be — and whom he should cover.
Wide receiver Skyy Moore: I’m not sure what Moore does for the Chiefs this season. It doesn’t seem like there’s much on the positive side. He was once again held without a catch, missing the connection on his only target of the afternoon.
Coaches Andy Reid, Matt Nagy and Connor Embree: The Kansas City offense seems to be playing the game while it’s set on the highest degree of difficulty. It has to work way too hard to make plays happen. Big plays are too rare. Mistakes are far too common. Penalties, turnovers, drops, bad routes and other execution errors continue to plague the team. At some point, it’s the offensive coaching staff’s responsibility to put guys in positions where they can do what they do best — and to execute.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.