In March, less than a month after helping the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl, a veteran linebacker named Von Miller shocked the majority of the football community by revealing he would be joining the Buffalo Bills. Miller, a 10-year NFL veteran, was about to turn 33 when the Bills signed him to a six-year, $120 million contract.
“Is 40 available?” he asked on Twitter, referencing his chosen jersey number. It was.
Sunday’s thrilling 24-20 Buffalo victory put the Bills (5-1) as the team to beat in the AFC, if not the whole NFL. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as elusive and productive as ever, saw Miller’s No. 40 a lot. Miller sacked Mahomes twice, including once with a spin-a-rama, and fought off a double-team to force Mahomes to throw the game-clinching interception.
Sunday, the courageous Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dawson Knox that put the Bills in front with less than a minute remaining. Allen gained 16 yards on a keeper in which he leapt over Kansas City defender Justin Reid to extend the run two plays prior.
But Allen was on the Bills’ roster in January, when Mahomes defeated him in one of the best playoff games ever. The Bills lacked a defensive playmaker like Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowler, at the time. Mahomes tossed two touchdown passes and guided the Chiefs on a 13-second drive for a field goal at the end of regulation to prolong the game in the final minute of regulation and overtime. Vonnie B’Vsean Miller literally made the difference on this past Sunday.
Sunday, with 56 seconds remaining and down 24-20, Kansas City gained a first down at its own 30-yard line when Buffalo cornerback Siran Neal was called for holding on an incomplete pass. Members of the Bills Mafia likely thought to themselves, “Oh no!” Here we are yet again. On the next play, though, Miller evaded Kansas City tackle Andrew Wylie, whom he had defeated for both of his earlier sacks.
At the very least, Chiefs guard Trey Smith slid across to block Miller’s path. Miller had nearly reached Mahomes by then, so Mahomes double-pumped and threw quickly to rookie receiver Skyy Moore. Taron Johnson of Buffalo stepped in front of Moore and intercepted his throw.
It was the Bills’ league-leading 13th interception of the season.
The Bills did not shut down Mahomes, as he finished with 338 throwing yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. He completed five of six passes during a drive that resulted in a field goal, allowing Kansas City to take the lead, 20-17. On the previous play, however, Mahomes had only gained three yards on a third-and-13 scramble. Who performed the tackle?
“Whether or not he really fired Mahomes, he had an effect on him… Miller was terrific, said Bills head coach Sean McDermott after the game.
Leslie Frazier, the Bills’ defensive coordinator, had already assembled a fairly effective bunch, but now they have something extra. A little over a year ago, they defeated Kansas City on the road during the regular season, only to lose to the Chiefs in a much more important game.
This season, a veteran linebacker wearing No. 40 for the Bills hopes to lead another club to the championship game.