KANSAS CITY, MO (WKBW) — After Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce hauled in that touchdown pass in overtime and celebrated with his teammates, the Bills sideline saw their season come to an end.
As quarterback Josh Allen walked off the field in Kansas City, he was looking around and taking in everything.
"It was tough to be in that moment. It sucks the way it happened. We wanted to win that game and we had our opportunities," he said. "I took it all in and am holding onto that feeling to make sure we don't feel like this again. It's tough to take in but it's part of the game, part of the learning process, and we need to use this and figure out how we can be better and accomplish what we want to accomplish."
Use whatever word you want: disappointed, heart-broken, shocked. The players, coaches, and fans felt it all. Instead of going back to Orchard Park to prepare this week for the AFC Championship, they're cleaning out their lockers and calling it a season.
"Those guys are hurt. We're disappointed, we're all disappointed, we're all hurt and sick to our stomachs," head coach Sean McDermott said. "You try and get yourself to learn from it, but it stings. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. It stings."
"We wanted to win that game," Allen added. "There's only gonna be one champion crowned at the end of the season, so that makes 31 unhappy teams."
The final two minutes of Sunday night's game were a whirlwind. The two teams scored a combined 25 points, including a two-play, 13 second drive that ended with Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker sending this one into overtime. Fans on social media were pointing fingers, the majority at the league's overtime rules, but the players are doing none of that.
"The rules are what they are and I can't complain about that," Allen said about the overtime rules. "If it was the other way around, we would be celebrating too."
"You can't put this on one person, you can't put this on one unit," center Mitch Morse said. "We [the offense] could've put more points on the board, we had 3-and-outs, maybe we had that opportunity to give our defense a break and it would've been a different game."
"The offense did everything they had to do. The defense, we had to make a stop and we weren't able to do it," safety Jordan Poyer said. "It's a tough feeling. It's hard to put into words. It's something we're gonna have to live with and something we're gonna have to learn from."
As the players walked off that field, there was also the realization that this team would never play with each other again. Coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier have both been mentioned for head coaching vacancies around the league, while several notable players will be free agents.
"You know every season there's roster moves and changes," Poyer said. "I don't know what this team is gonna look like next year. That's the hard part about it."
"The turnover in this league and in this game, it's part of the business. But it's the last time this team and this group of guys will be out there competing with each other," Morse added. "We know what we lost and it's why this locker room is hurting."
And while the team doesn't know who will and won't be putting on a Buffalo Bills jersey next season, they do know they'll have the same motivation and drive they did when they returned from the break last season.
"Everything in life is a lesson and you either grow from it or you die from it," Poyer said. "We got a lot of resilient guys on this football team, a lot of guys who've been in the league a long time, and we need to learn from it."
"What doesn't kill you should only make you stronger and I think this should make us stronger," McDermott said. "It'll take some time, but it should make us stronger."