The Buffalo Bills face an offseason where they must continue to work to find a way to beat Patrick Mahomes after being left sick to their stomach by his incredible late heroics in the NFL Divisional Round.
Buffalo appeared destined to knock off the AFC's dominant power in Kansas City, striking what looked to be the decisive blow when Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis, who reeled in his fourth touchdown catch of the game to set a postseason record, to give the Bills a 36-33 lead with just 13 seconds left as an incredible weekend of playoff matchups saved its most remarkable for last.
Yet 13 seconds proved more than enough time for Mahomes to thwart the Bills again, driving the Chiefs down to the Buffalo 31-yard line to set Harrison Butker up for a 49-yard field goal to force overtime.
And Mahomes then ensured the Bills will be stewing over their inability to close the game out until the start of the 2022 campaign as the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and sealed victory with an eight-play drive capped by his eight-yard touchdown throw to Travis Kelce, whose superb catch sealed a 42-36 triumph that will go down in NFL folklore.
While Bills fans will understandably want to extinguish the memory of a painful defeat, McDermott, having seen his team defeated by Mahomes and Co. in last year's AFC Championship Game, must now reflect on an astonishing late turnaround and determine how they can stop the quarterback who continues to haunt them.
Tonight Josh Allen & Patrick Mahomes both:
-passed for 300+ yards
-passed for 3+ TD
-completed 70% of their passes
-had 0 INT
-rushed for 65+ yards
-led their team in rushing
No other QB in NFL history has accomplished all of those feats in a game (regular season or postseason)
McDermott said of Mahomes in his post-game media conference: "That's the reality of our situation, and we’ve got to continue to work to beat him.
"Give him the credit. He made a couple plays down the stretch. That’s what great players do. They make big plays in big moments in big games.
"The game came down to, pretty much, 13 seconds. I think they all feel the same way I do; we're all sick to [our] stomach and it hurts. We worked really hard to get here.
"I know the fans are disappointed. I wish I could take that off of them, take it off the team. But we can't."
Asked about the bizarre decision to send the kick-off after Davis' fourth touchdown out of the endzone for a touchback rather than taking time off the clock by kicking it in play, McDermott replied: "We talk about a lot of things. I'm just going to leave it at execution and it starts with me."
Allen, meanwhile, echoed McDermott's sentiments after once again being left to take in the agony of another loss to Mahomes, whose game-winning connection with Kelce marked the fifth and final lead change following the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
"It was tough to be in that moment," Allen said. "I have a lot of respect for Pat. He throws a winning touchdown, and he comes straight over and finds me.
"To be in that situation and to do that, that was pretty cool of him. Obviously, it just sucks the way it happened. We wanted to win that game and had our opportunities.
"I was taking it all in and holding on to that feeling and making sure that we don't feel like this again. Back-to-back years in the same spot, it's tough to take in, but it's part of the game; it's part of the learning process.
"We've got to use this and figure out how to be better and how to accomplish what we want to accomplish."