KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After the Buffalo Bills' 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback Josh Allen was asked what this game meant -- a necessary step that keeps the playoffs within reach -- following a week in which the team faced issues off the field with remarks coach Sean McDermott made in 2019 involving 9/11 becoming public, and as an investigation into the alleged assault of a pregnant woman by pass-rusher Von Miller continues.
Allen, speaking for the first time since McDermott's comments were published, shared his support for the only head coach he has played under as a professional.
"This week wasn't easy. It wasn't easy for Coach McDermott," Allen said. "You can question a lot of things about coaching style, you can question a lot of things about my decision-making, you can question a lot of things about this team, but to question his character and who he is as a man ... he's one of the better humans on this planet, with how he carries himself, and we saw it for what it is."
Allen wasn't alone in sharing the sentiment. When McDermott paused during a postgame speech in the locker room, as shared by the team after the game, multiple players shouted sentiments along the lines of "We got your back!"
General manager Brandon Beane later handed McDermott a game ball, saying, "Hey, we got this man's back. Tough f---ing week. We got your f---ing back."
"I couldn't be more proud of a group, I really couldn't at this point in the regular season," McDermott said. "To a person, they didn't flinch. They were focused, they supported one another, and they supported me. And I don't take that for granted at all. I'm just super proud of those guys and just a super resilient group."
As first reported by Go Long, during the 2019 training camp, McDermott was speaking with players about coming together and referenced the terrorists on 9/11 as an example. McDermott soon after apologized the day the comments were made in 2019, and he met with the team on Thursday to talk over the situation with players who were not on the team at the time.
"I think that's a bunch of bulls--- what they did to him. That was five years ago, my rookie year," defensive tackle Ed Oliver said. "[Whoever did the] leak or whatever, I think you're a coward, for one, because everything is supposed to stay in house. So, I got his back on everything. I know he's a good guy. I know he's a great guy actually."
The win keeps the Bills in the playoff hunt, but still in 11th place in a competitive AFC. Allen finished the game completing 23 of 42 passes for 233 yards, one passing touchdown and one interception. He was sacked three times. He also rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries, including one rushing touchdown. It was Allen's ninth game this season with a passing and rushing touchdown, tying Kyler Murray (2020) for the most in a single season.
Allen had multiple key plays in the game, including a throw on third down early in the fourth quarter to running back Latavius Murray on which he was just 0.2 yards from the sideline when he released the ball, the closest distance to the sideline of any completion since 2018, per Next Gen Stats.
The defense also did its part at the end of the game. After giving up three game-losing or tying drives when the opposition got the ball with less than two minutes remaining earlier this season, it allowed Kansas City to gain just 21 net yards on the final drive, assisted by an offensive offsides call. Patrick Mahomes came into the game with the highest winning percentage when trailing in the fourth quarter in NFL history (41.7%).
McDermott, who is the defensive playcaller, said that two-minute situations were something that the coaching staff studied over the bye week last week, and the Bills added extra work on it in practice against the first-team offense.
"I think that's what we needed to do," cornerback Rasul Douglas said. "You know how it's easy for you to say something like, 'Oh, this is who I am, or this is what I am,' but until you do it, it's like, do you actually believe that that's who you are? So, I think that's something that we needed and I'm glad we got it and I feel like that will help us."
The Bills notched just the team's third win in nine one-score games this season, with a difficult stretch still to come, including a home game against the Dallas Cowboys up next.
"Absolutely," safety Jordan Poyer said when asked if the week brought the team closer together. "We all know Sean's character. We all know who he is, everybody inside the building. So, everything outside of that building really doesn't matter at all, no matter what."