The Buffalo Bills continue to find more excruciating ways to break their fans’ hearts by losing. This time they did it in the closing seconds and overtime of their Week 10 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
With less than a minute left in regulation, Buffalo had stopped the Vikings on a 4th down goal line quarterback sneak, only for the Bills to turn around and fumble, allowing Minnesota to recover in the end zone to take the lead and what felt like the game at that time.
The roar of the Buffalo crowd after that fourth-and-goal stop was that of a fanbase whose team had just secured its biggest win of the season. But in a matter of a few minutes, the home crowd fell from its perch on cloud nine, down into the depths of torment that have plagued this franchise for years.
A game the Bills led 27-10 late in the third quarter was then allowed to become a rollercoaster ride of emotion for Buffalo fans, in which they came out on the losing end again. Unfortunately, if you live in Buffalo, you’re all too familiar with how quickly things can go south when leading with seconds remaining on the game clock.
Last postseason in the AFC Divisional round, everyone remembers the 13-second miracle Patrick Mahomes, and the Kansas City Chiefs orchestrated to send that game to overtime against the Bills. KC went on to win that showdown, 42-36. Obviously, the finality of that one meant the end of Buffalo’s season, but if you’re a player, coach, or fan of the Bills, this loss to the Vikings likely brings back memories of that playoff loss.
These heartbreaking losses have always seemed to find the Bills for whatever reason. Remember the “Music City Miracle” game? Buffalo also came out on the losing end of that wildcard game during the 1999 playoffs against the Tennessee Titans. The game’s final scoring play is still controversial to this day because of how close that “lateral pass” was to being a forward pass by the Titans. But the referees upheld the call, and Tennessee beat Buffalo, 22-16.
If you want to go even further back, there are the four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the early 90s Bills led by Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. Three of the four Super Bowl appearances weren’t close. But the first game, which closed out the ‘90-91 campaign, was the most gut-wrenching, as Buffalo lost on the foot of kicker Scott Norwood, who missed a 47-yard field goal attempt that would’ve won the game.
Fun fact: The Bills and Vikings are the only two organizations that have lost four Super Bowls inside of a decade. As mentioned above the Bills of the early ’90s lost four consecutive and the Vikings lost four in the ‘70s. The only other team to lose four Super Bowls, in general, is the Denver Broncos. They were beaten once in the 70s and three times in the 80s.
However, these Bills fans might know better than many how it feels to have victory within their clutches only to see it snatched away at the last second. The last couple minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime for the Bills and Vikings in Week 10 were among the most exciting we’ve seen this year. Some are already calling this the game of the year.
Buffalo came into the season as a Super Bowl favorite, but if they are to fulfill this prophecy, they’ll need to figure out how to better close teams out in tight games. Late-game execution will be critical for the Bills heading down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs. The run defense was leaking a bit this week as Buffalo allowed Dalvin Cook to rush for more yards than their defense normally gives up. Buffalo gives up just under 110 rushing yards per game, and Cook gained 119. He even got loose for a 67-yard TD run late in the third quarter that got Minnesota back in this game.
While this was a regular season loss, the sting of it will likely take a while to subside.