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Armando Salguero: Bills Knock Off The Team To Beat But Understand There’s More To Do

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An ancient Greek philosopher (or maybe it was professional wrestler Ric Flair) once said to be the man, you got to beat the man.

And the Buffalo Bills took up that mantle Sunday night because they understood the Kansas City Chiefs have been the team — or the proverbial man — in the AFC for several years now.

The Bills knew the Chiefs beat them in the AFC Championship game last season.

So the Bills, with hopes of being the new dominant team in their conference this season, understood that if they want to win this year’s title game months from now, they had to beat the Chiefs on Sunday.

And that’s exactly what they did with a convincing 38-20 victory in Kansas City.

So the narrative is the Bills have done something really noteworthy. They’ve knocked the crown from the king’s head.

They’re the new man, to stick with the theme.

Except the Bills don’t see it that way, and that is perhaps the most impressive and dangerous (for the rest of the AFC) thing that happened Sunday night.

Because the team could have reacted to a big road win, against a nemesis, on national television, by turning this into a referendum on the rest of the season, but instead kept a smart, temperate perspective.

“I think it’s your guys’ jobs, but this is going to be made a bigger deal than what it is,” quarterback Josh Allen told reporters. “We’re in Week 5, last time I checked. And four wins doesn’t get you into the playoffs.”

Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of maturity. That’s refusing to bite on the so-called cheese because believing one win, however important, is the thing is actually a trap in which a lesser team would get caught.

Not these Bills.

“I think, again, it’s a week by week league,” Allen said. “You’re either on top of the world or you need everybody fired and change everything up. We just tried to come out here and execute a game plan. Our coaches did a great job, offense and defense, and it’s our job to come out here and execute it.

“But it’s one game. And we’re not going to try to make this a bigger deal than what it needs to be.”

Allen was echoing every other player who spoke with reporters.

“A win is a win. And it’s just one win,” offensive lineman Dion Dawkins said. “Just because we beat them, it’s not two or three wins … If you think different, that’s on you.”

The impressive thing is the Bills found the way to strike the right chord between knowing they played well in a big game…

…And mistakenly thinking they won the ultimate big game.

“It’s not like we won the Super Bowl or something,’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It’s just Week 5. We got to have perspective.”

This suggests the Bills remain hungry and grounded as well as aware of their achievement.

And the victory was indeed an achievement.

It was every bit that for Allen because he out-dueled Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Allen completed only 15 of 26 passes but turned that into three TD passes and 315 yards.

In a game delayed for an hour at the start of the second half because of lightning, Allen’s passes were thunder bolts. He threw a 53-yard TD to tight end Dawson Knox and two more to Sanders, including a 35-yarder that seemed to scream as it cut through the thick night air.

“He was special. He’s been special the past like four weeks,” Sanders said. “But I think prime time spotlight, the hurdling over the guy, and the pass to me was ridiculous. I mean, it was on a line, a rope.

“And after I caught it, I didn’t even know what to do because I just kept thinking, ‘That throw was crazy.’ Literally, he just put it there and it just stuck to my hand. What the heck? This dude was special tonight.”

The Bills defense was equally special.

Safety Micah Hyde had an interception return for a touchdown. Rookie defensive end Gregory Rousseau had a sack and an interception.

The performance made Mahomes seem almost mortal. He threw for 272 yards but his two interceptions overshadowed his two touchdown passes, and his 70.9 rating was indicative of his offense’s inconsistency.

That wasn’t the only bad news for the Chiefs. Left guard Joe Thuney fractured a hand during the game, head coach Andy Reid announced afterward.

And now Kansas City has lost to two AFC teams with 4-1 records — Buffalo and the Chargers — at home and also lost to Baltimore, which has a chance to improve to 4-1 Monday night, on the road.

The Chiefs have dug themselves into a hole they must escape if they’re hoping to return to the playoffs. That’s the narrative in Kansas City now.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has changed their narrative. They had defeated three consecutive backup quarterbacks and three consecutive poor teams in Miami, Washington and Houston.

This win was different. Way different.

After it was over, Buffalo players could be heard celebrating loudly in their locker room next to the press conference room. The moment lingered for a little while but not too long.

It was just right for a team that understands there’s more work to do.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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