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Bills have a familiar feeling, eliminated by the Chiefs in playoffs for third time in four years

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Different season. Familiar heartbreaking finish.

Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills know the feeling all too well.

“Here, there, doesn’t matter,” the Bills quarterback said. “Losing sucks. I don’t know what else to say.”

Buffalo (12-7) showed plenty of resolve in 2023, winning its last five regular-season games to claim its fourth straight AFC East title. But the Bills fell short of their ultimate goal Sunday night with a 27-24 loss in the divisional round — again — and against the Kansas City Chiefs — again.

It was the third straight year the Bills' season ended in this round of the playoffs. And they've been eliminated by the Chiefs in three of the past four years, with losses after the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Arrowhead Stadium.

Two years ago, it was “13 Seconds” — the amount of time it took Patrick Mahomes to drive the Chiefs for a tying field goal. This time, the Bills brought back two words familiar from their history of heartbreak: wide right.

Tyler Bass missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 1:43 left, and the Chiefs ran out the clock from there. Wide right became infamous in Buffalo when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of a 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on Jan. 27, 1991.

“I feel terrible,” Bass said. “This one hurts bad.”

They all hurt in Buffalo, where a team led by one of the league's most exciting quarterbacks found new ways to come up short, this time in a game where the teams traded the lead five times.

“I’m extremely disappointed. I mean, you put so much time into this, you put so much time into a season, let alone this game and the preparation for it. And to come out and to not perform the way I’d hoped we would have, it’s extremely disappointing and frustrating,” coach Sean McDermott said. “I’ve been to two Super Bowls and there’s only one team that’s happy. It’s that type of business and you keep working at it.”

There were plenty of personal subplots in this loss to the Chiefs.

McDermott lost to his mentor, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who gave McDermott his NFL break by hiring him to his staff in Philadelphia in 1999.

Reid praised McDermott, saying: “All-time classic again. Any time we play Sean’s teams, it comes right down to the end.”

For Allen, it was losing to good friend and occasional offseason golf partner in Patrick Mahomes, who consoled Allen afterward.

“I said, ‘Heck of a year, man.’ I’ve been on the other side of that,” Mahomes said. “He played his tail off to give them a chance to win in the end. We were just able to come out with the win in the end.”

Allen didn't have a turnover and finished 26 of 39 for 186 yards and a touchdown while rushing for a team-high 72 yards and two TDs. He deflected the criticism of Bass for missing the field goal, instead placing the onus on himself for not leading the Bills to the end zone on their last drive.

“I wish he wouldn’t have been put in that situation,” Allen said. “You win as a team. You lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a season, doesn’t define a game.”

Bass' kick hardly would have guaranteed a win — or even overtime. The Chiefs would have gotten the ball back with nearly two minutes on the clock and two timeouts. In the “13 Seconds” game, Buffalo blew a late lead, allowing Mahomes to move his team 44 yards in two plays, and lost in overtime.

Asked if this loss was harder to accept, center Mitch Morse said: “No, it’s always hard.”

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AP freelancers Jonah Bronstein and Alex Brasky contributed to this report.

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