Mon Jan 24 12:03am ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates with fans as he walks off the field after an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks off the field after an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer (21) kneels on the field after an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Josh Allen walked off the field inside Arrowhead Stadium a year ago juggling the disappointment of an AFC tile game loss to the Chiefs with a profound sense of optimism about the future of his up-and-coming Buffalo Bills.
There was nothing but soul-crushing sorrow Sunday night.
Allen and Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes had dueled all night in a playoff game sure to go down in history, leading their teams to a combined 25 points in the final 2 minutes of regulation. But it was Mahomes who delivered the coup de grace with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in overtime, lifting the Chiefs to a 42-36 victory.
The Chiefs were headed to their fourth straight AFC title game, this time against the Bengals next Sunday.
The Bills were headed back to Buffalo with a ninth straight playoff loss away from home.
''Pat played amazing. I've got a lot of respect for him and the Chiefs as a whole. They made one more play than we did; that's what it came down to,'' Allen said. ''But I'm proud of our guys, how we fought, how we battled, how we came through and persevered over some things throughout the course of this game and the course of the season. It obviously - it hurts.
''You don't like feeling like this, especially back-to-back years at the same place.''
The way the game played out made it downright excruciating.
The Bills were trailing 23-14 in a heavyweight slugfest before finally mounting a second-half comeback, and Allen thought he'd finished it off when he found Gabriel Davis for the go-ahead score with just under 2 minutes left in regulation.
Surely, the league's top-ranked defense would hold on from there.
It turned out to be just the start of a chaotic finish: Mahomes threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to regain the lead, Allen answered with a playoff-record fourth TD pass to Davis to give it back to Buffalo with 13 seconds to go, and the Chiefs somehow managed to give Harrison Butker a chance to kick a 49-yarder to send the game to overtime.
What was going through Allen's mind with 13 ticks on the clock?
''I'm thinking it's Pat Mahomes on the other side,'' Allen replied.
The way the game played out, it seemed as if whatever team won the coin flip for overtime would win the game. And when Allen called tails, and the stadium lights shined on heads, the game was out of his hands.
Mahomes led his team swiftly down field, hit Kelce in the end zone and set off a wild celebration on the field.
''It's just going to leave a bad taste in our mouth,'' said Davis, who had eight catches for 201 yards along with the four TDs. ''I know that it'll be something I'll be thinking about until next season starts again, because there's still going to be games going on, and the Super Bowl's going to be played, and you're going to see it on TV and know you should have been in that position. So it's definitely going to have people with a chip on their shoulder.''
None more so than the one under center.
Allen was 27 of 37 for 329 yards passing and four touchdowns without an interception, and he led the Bills with 68 yards on the ground. No other player in NFL history had passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns, completed 70% of his throws and led his team with at least 65 yards rushing.
Except, well ... Mahomes did it, too.
''We've got to continue to work to beat him,'' Bills coach Sean McDermott said. ''Give him credit. He made a couple plays down the stretch and had a great game. That's what great players do: They make big plays in big moments of big games, and he made big plays. But again, I'm proud of the way the guys fought. They battled.''
For a franchise that once lost four consecutive Super Bowls, it just wasn't enough.
''You're walking off the field and you realize you won't have the same roster each and every year, coaches included. A lot of us have been together five years. That might not be the case,'' Bills safety Micah Hyde said. ''It's beyond football. We're really like brothers. We celebrated, we cried together, we laughed together throughout the years. And once something like that happens, it's a hard way to go out. It's tough.''
Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert (knee) agreed to a one-year, $3.125 million contract in March after spending his previous six seasons in San Francisco. During Mostert's time in the Bay Area, he accumulated 1,610 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns and was a hit-or-miss fantasy option for years. However, with the deal, he will follow new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, who served as the 49ers run game and offensive coordinator since 2017. The 30-year-old believes his familiarity with the offense will help him this season. Still, with Mostert working his way back from a season-ending knee injury in September, he'll also need to battle Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, and Myles Gaskin for touches. As a result, the veteran's outlook isn't as bright, although he may have a few sufficient fantasy performances during the 2022-23 campaign.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) hasn't been a full participant at recent OTAs. The 23-year-old was observed wearing the infamous no-contact red jersey, although it was later revealed he hasn't practiced because of minor arthroscopic knee surgery. Fortunately, the 2021 first-round pick should be ready to roll by training camp. Toney, who was rumored to be on the trade block a few months ago, has a chance of establishing himself as the team's top wideout this season. Yet, having Daniel Jones under center may make accumulating fantasy points a challenge, regardless of his place on the depth chart.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson faces 22 civil lawsuits for alleged sexual misconduct. However, when speaking with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, reported that "no settlement talks are in the offing." The latest update adds another hurdle for the NFL and its investigation, primarily since individual cases likely won't happen immediately, making it much more challenging for the league to determine a potential punishment. It certainly doesn't suggest Watson will be off the hook. Yet, with potential trials delaying things, the veteran may be available for the 2022-23 campaign.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Bell could be seeing plenty of action in this offensive unit. The third-round rookie can play both outside and slot roles, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. That being said, Bell could be a unique option for the Browns offense. They don't have a reliable No. 2 receiver to play behind Amari Cooper. The departure of Jarvis Landry leaves this team without another reliable pass catcher. Possibly, Bell steps up and becomes an important part of the Browns offense.
New England Patriots running back James White (hip) was cleared for on-field drills. The veteran back was limited to three games due to hip surgery in October. The 30-year-old is making solid progress, but might be held out of full-squad workouts next week. The good news is, White should be ready to go when training camp begins. Although, rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr. might push White back on the depth chart.
Arizona Cardinals running back Keaontay Ingram could ended up as the No. 2 option heading into next season. The Cardinals are without a reliable backup since Chase Edmonds departed during the offseason. That being said, Ingram could replace Edmonds as the No. 2 back behind James Conner. Last season, Edmonds averaged 13 touches per game, so it's unlikely that Ingram would see that much action. However, Conner does have a habit of missing time due to injuries. Ingram could be an interesting stash option with Eno Benjamin being basically his only competition.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield remains on the roster. Despite multiple clubs, specifically, the Panthers and Seahawks, remaining interested in Mayfield's services, there hasn't been any movement regarding a potential deal. The former Oklahoma Sooner is due to make over $18 million in guaranteed cash this season. However, with teams not looking to take on such a financial burden, especially for a quarterback coming off shoulder surgery, finding a suitor has been a challenge for the Browns. Nonetheless, Deshaun Watson is still potentially facing suspension, so there's a chance Mayfield could end up starting in Cleveland for at least some of the 2022-23 campaign.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has received plenty of negative press over the last few months. However, despite the unfavorable publicity, tight end George Kittle recently went to bat for the signal-caller. When asked about having Lance under center this season, Kittle was all for it, exclaiming, "it's going to be pretty exciting." The former Bison appeared in six games during his inaugural year, throwing for 603 yards and rushing for 168 yards. He also accounted for six total touchdowns, although he tossed two interceptions and completed only 57.7% of his passing attempts. Nonetheless, while receiving a vote of confidence from Kittle is certainly a good thing for the 22-year-old, it still doesn't mean he'll start this season. But even if he does, he has a way to go before earning the trust of fantasy managers.
Free-agent quarterback Nick Foles is expected to sign with the Colts. The terms of the agreement are being finalized, with the veteran anticipated to put pen to paper by early next week. Foles, who was relieved of his duties by the Bears on May 1, will reunite with Frank Reich, the team's head coach, who also served as the Eagles offensive coordinator during the 2017-18 campaign, the season Philly won a Super Bowl with Foles under center. While Matt Ryan is still anticipated to be the starter, Foles has a shot to eventually find himself as the No. 1 option on the depth chart. Nonetheless, the 33-year-old shouldn't draw much interest during fantasy drafts heading into September, although there is waiver wire potential throughout the season.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond is having a good spring this offseason. "Kellen's having a good spring so far, working incredibly hard, digesting the system. He made a couple checks yesterday at the LOS that he wasn't prepared play by play for...he just instinctively did it. Those are the little things you look for," new head coach Kevin O'Connell said. The 22-year-old got into just one game as a rookie last year and went 2-for-3 for five yards in one series. With Kirk Cousins likely staying in Minnesota for at least a couple more seasons, Mond will work to become his direct backup in 2022. The Vikings also have Sean Mannion in their quarterback room.
The Carolina Panthers are still interested in San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, but in order for a trade to go down, the other team would have to agree to pick up a large portion of their salary. Nothing has changed on that front in weeks. Making things more difficult, both QBs are coming off surgeries. Although Jimmy G or Mayfield would give Carolina more competition at the position alongside Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral, they understandably aren't in a rush to trade for a rehabbing signal-caller unless the other team picks up the vast majority of their salary. There remains a scenario where both the Niners and Browns keep Garoppolo and Mayfield.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins doesn't see his role changing at all despite the addition of A.J. Brown. "We're all good guys, we're all going to compete, we're all going to do our part. My role is not going to change -- I'm going to continue to do what I do," Watkins said. The 23-year-old improved in his second NFL season last year, catching 43 passes for 647 yards and one touchdown in 17 games (12 starts). But the Eagles finished first in rushing last year, and the addition of Brown bumps Watkins to third on the receiving depth chart. Watkins' speed and ability to play in the slot will help him in this improving offense, but he'll have to hold off Zach Pascal in order to be fantasy relevant on a weekly basis.
New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed has been really impressed with rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner early on. Gardner, who was the No. 4 overall pick, didn't give up a single touchdown out of his 1,000-plus career coverage snaps and only allowed 13 catches for 117 yards last year at Cincinnati. "I love him man. I watched his tape and he's everything that the media is saying he is, he's a lockdown cornerback," Reed said. "He did it in college, and I believe he can do it at the NFL. He's prototypical, he has elite characteristics, and he plays with great eye discipline. He can catch, too. He makes great plays on the ball and it's just an overall complete cornerback in my opinion. I'm looking forward to balling with him."
Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams (knee) thinks he can be ready by training camp in August, which would be an aggressive timetable for a return after he tore his ACL in the National Championship game on Jan. 11. Typically, ACL repair recovery takes nine to 12 months. Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 11 would be exactly eight months from the injury. If the first-rounder take part in training camp at all, he could make his NFL debut in the first month of the season. If he misses camp, Lions beat writer Tim Twentyman doesn't think we'll see Williams until late September or early October. The 21-year-old has been making good progress and has a ton of long-term potential, but those in redraft leagues should temper their expectations in Year 1.
New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said that wide receiver Kadarius Toney is "doing all the right things...on and off the field." Kafka also said Toney is being attentive in meetings and has been good to work with during offseason team activities this week. At the same time, Toney's workload has been dialed back a bit due to undisclosed reasons. The 23-year-old played in only 10 games in his rookie season last year due to injuries, so the Giants are probably just playing it safe with him early in the offseason. Toney has a lot of playmaking abilities, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in New York's passing attack if everyone is healthy. The former first-round pick will be a high-risk, high-reward fantasy selection after he had 39 catches for 420 yards and no touchdowns in his first NFL season.
The New England Patriots sound ecstatic with second-year quarterback Mac Jones' offseason dedication. He has spent long hours at Gillette Stadium, often beating the coaches into the building to get a jump-start on film study for the day. Jones is also taking ownership of the offense and is willing to vouch for plays and concepts that he likes while pumping the brakes on plays that haven't worked. The 23-year-old impressed in his rookie season with 3,801 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 521 attempts, and the additions of receivers DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor should only help his cause in Year 2. However, the loss of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be significant, and Jones should be considered a low-upside QB2 until further notice.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown is in line to be paid like one of the best receivers in the NFL, and the Cardinals will be compelled to extend his contract. Brown just had the best season of his career with 91 catches and 1,008 yards, but he ranked 14th and 26th in those categories. The soon-to-be 25-year-old is on an upward trajectory and should be better in a pass-happy offense in Arizona. Brown will take on a bigger role early in the year with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for six games, and he has chemistry with quarterback Kyler Murray from their days at Oklahoma. His fantasy ceiling and floor should be much higher in the desert.
The Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks have shown interest in acquiring Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, but the Browns haven't been willing to absorb enough of his fully guaranteed $18.858 million salary for this season. It's unclear how far apart the sides have been, but the Browns want their contractual intake to be commensurate with the asset they receive in return. The Panthers and Seahawks are pushing for the Browns to eat as much as $17.823 million. With Mayfield still rehabbing his surgically repaired left shoulder, it has tempered the urgency to acquire him. The Browns could keep Mayfield as insurance in case Deshaun Watson is suspended this year, but either way, Mayfield's fantasy stock is way down after his disappointing 2021 season.
Former Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings safety George Iloka worked out for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday with the idea that he could serve as a cover linebacker. Iloka hasn't played since tearing his ACL midway through the 2020 season, but he has been working towards a return to the NFL. The 32-year-old played in only four games with the Vikings before his devastating knee injury in 2020. He was originally drafted in the fifth round by the Bengals in 2012 out of Boise State. Iloka has 365 tackles (246 solo), 10 tackles for loss, three QB hits, nine interceptions, 32 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 103 career games (79 starts) in his eight NFL seasons.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Robert Woods (knee) is making good progress in his recovery from a torn ACL that he suffered last November while playing with the Los Angeles Rams. "I actually feel like they're kind of holding me back a little bit," Woods said. "I am trying to get back as well as I can, just doing everything (trainer) Todd Toriscelli has me doing, trying to stay focused and be patient with it. Right now I feel really, really good, getting going, being able to do some things." It remains to be seen if he'll be ready for training camp, but Woods is expected to be the team's No. 1 receiver after they traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles during the draft. The 30-year-old had 367 catches for 4,626 yards and 23 touchdowns in his five seasons with LA, but he's coming off a major injury and is now in a run-first offense.