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Carucci Take2: No shame for Josh Allen, Bills in a game for the ages

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says Buffalo fans are entitled to a whole lot of wailing and wallowing. This finish was crushing in every way imaginable.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 42-36 divisional playoff overtime loss Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium:

1. Outcome aside, this was a game for the ages.

Bills fans are entitled to a whole lot of wailing and wallowing. The finish was crushing in every way imaginable.

But how incredibly exciting was the game? How amazing were the performances of both quarterbacks, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, who staged what will continue to be one of the great quarterback rivalries in NFL history? How incredible/exhausting was the back-and-forth nature of the game from start to finish, with seven lead changes?

And how unbelievable were those final two minutes of regulation, during which there were three lead changes?

I understand. The entertainment value does nothing to minimize the pain of the loss and the squandering of an opportunity to host the AFC Championship Game next Sunday.

Still, there was more to like than not like about all that the Bills poured into a game against another NFL heavyweight that has played in the last two Super Bowls.

2. Josh Allen was tremendous. Period.

Yes, it will go down as his third loss in six postseason games. Yes, his playoff record will also show only one trip, an unsuccessful one, to the AFC title game.

But Allen couldn’t have done much more than he did to beat the Chiefs. His numbers were, for the second game in a row, staggering: 27-for-37 passing for 329 yards and four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 136.0.

Allen’s performance more than held up against the spectacular work of Mahomes, who completed 33 of 44 passes for 378 yards and three TDs, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 123.1.

Each also did considerable damage with his legs, with Allen running 11 times for team-leading 68 yards and Mahomes running seven times for a game-high 69 yards and a touchdown.

Both put their teams on their backs, which is what elite franchise quarterbacks do.

3. Hello, Gabe Davis … but where were you, Stefon Diggs?

Davis found himself wide open to catch all of Allen’s TD throws. The Chiefs simply didn’t account for him.

They apparently were accounting for Diggs, though, because he had only three catches for seven yards. He did have a two-point conversion reception as the Bills took a 29-26 lead with 1:54 left in regulation.

4. And where the heck was the Bills’ top-ranked defense?

It wilted at the worst possible time, making it look far too easy for the Chiefs’ offense throughout the game and especially in those fateful final 13 seconds when the Chiefs drove 44 yards in three plays to the 49-yard field goal that tied it at 36-36 and forced OT.

It's easy to second-guess the way the defense struggled, thanks to plenty of missed tackles, and the decision by coach Sean McDermott not to squib the kickoff after taking a 36-33 lead with 13 ticks on the clock to take time away from the Chiefs.

But there’s a whole offseason for that.

5. The Bills are still very much a Super Bowl contender.

They will be in the hunt next season, because they’re easily on a par with the Chiefs and every other team in the league.

In the immediate future, there is the possibility the Bills will lose at least one of their coordinators, Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier, to a head-coaching job. Stay tuned.

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