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‘Wide right’: The two words that haunt Buffalo Bills fans

It just wasn’t to be for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

With a spot in the AFC Championship game on the line, Buffalo was trailing by three points against their old foes, the Kansas City Chiefs.

With time ticking away, Bills quarterback Josh Allen masterminded a 16-play, 54-yard drive in the fourth quarter to set up a potential game-tying 44-yard field goal which would have heaped pressure back on the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Up stepped Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass, who hadn’t missed any of his career nine field goal attempts in the last two minutes of fourth quarters or overtimes when his team was tied or trailing by three points or fewer.

In short, his previous resume suggested Bass would convert the kick and send the game to overtime.

However, Bass’s kick – after beginning its trajectory accurately through the goal posts – swerved right and was no good, leading to Kansas City’s 27-24 victory.

And, as Jim Nantz said on the CBS broadcast: “The two most dreaded words in Buffalo have surfaced again.

“Wide right.”

A familiar foe

Bills fans have heard those two words before.

The franchise had built a winning team in the late 1980s under head coach Marv Levy, which had booked its spot in Super Bowl XXV in 1991.

Playing the great New York Giants team of that era under legendary head coach Bill Parcells, Buffalo went toe-to-toe with them, trailing by one point as time ticked down.

Led by the team’s famous quarterback Jim Kelly, the Bills drove down to the Giants’ 29-yard line, setting up a 47-yard field goal to clinch the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl title.

Bills kicker Scott Norwood entered the frame to potentially etch his name into folklore. But he ended up doing so for a very different reason.

In a moment with striking similarity to Bass’ miss, Norwood’s kick flew wide right of the posts, beginning a bittersweet run of four losses in four successive Super Bowls for the Bills.

Norwood misses a 47-yard, game-winning field goal wide right in the final moments of the Bills' 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. - Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Norwood misses a 47-yard, game-winning field goal wide right in the final moments of the Bills' 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. - Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

This time round, it was Bass not Norwood whose attempt flew wide right, but members of the Bills were keen to stress that their kicker was not to blame.

Allen was shown on TV cameras seeking out Bass after the game to console him and sought to take the pressure off him in his postgame press conference.

“I wish it wouldn’t have been put in that situation,” Allen told reporters. “You win as a team, you lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a game. It doesn’t define a season. I know people are gonna be out there saying that. We’ve got to be there for him because, again, we execute a couple plays prior, probably singing a different tune right now.”

However, after the miss sealed the Chiefs’ sixth consecutive AFC championship game spot, Bass took full responsibility.

Bass reacts after missing the field goal against the Chiefs. - Frank Franklin II/AP
Bass reacts after missing the field goal against the Chiefs. - Frank Franklin II/AP

“Ultimately, it’s completely on me,” a dejected Bass told reporters in the locker room.
“Got to do a better job of getting through to my target. Got to do a better job of playing it a little bit more left when you have a left-to-right.

“I’ve been here long enough to know that you have to do that. I was trusting my line that I had in warmups. Hit a good ball, it didn’t work out. I feel terrible. I love this team, and it hurts. This one hurts bad. I’ve got to do a better job.”

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