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ORCHARD PARK — Two months ago, this column said that for Buffalo Bills fans, the 2021 season is starting to look like 1989 again.

And that’s how the 2021 season went.

How do you say?

Well, after the 1989 regular season, the Bills made the playoffs but – unlike the previous season – didn’t reach the American Football Conference championship game, as they lost in a round. previous: a division game in Cleveland which they almost won.

After the 2021 regular season, the Bills made the playoffs but – unlike the previous season – did not reach the AFC Championship game, as they lost in a previous round: a divisional game. in Kansas City that they almost won.

Among the factors that contributed to the Bills loss to the Kansas City Chiefs are these two. First, the Chiefs had the home field advantage. Second, they slightly but noticeably outperformed the Bills. The first contributed to the second.

If the Bills had won just one – just one – of the many regular season games they should have won, they would have been tied with the Chiefs at the end of the regular season. Then, after defeating the Chiefs in the regular season, the Bills would have faced the Chiefs in Western New York, not Western Missouri, in the playoffs.

It’s true that even great teams don’t win all the games they should win. Yet the big teams lose few of those games. During the 2021 regular season, the Bills lost more than a few.

Think of the opening game loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Think of the loss in Jacksonville to the unique Jaguars and whatever they were at the time. Think of the searing loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts. Think Monday night’s chilling loss at home to the New England Patriots.

Now think about the difference playing the Chiefs here, instead of there, would likely have made during the playoffs.

Afterwards, the AFC Championship Game would also have taken place, with the Bills being the best of the four remaining teams in the playoffs. After all, as good as the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are, the Bills are better.

And you know which game follows the AFC Championship game.

Now that will wait another season.

Meanwhile, the Bills and their fans should learn and put behind them, not dwell on what went wrong in the – in the words of head coach Sean McDermott – “execution” of the game plan in Kansas City.

And the Bills and their fans can move into the 2022 season concluding that the Bills are well on their way to becoming a great team.

During the 2021 season, the Bills made progress in that direction.

A major milestone occurred late in the season when the running game improved. As former head coach Marv Levy said, “Run and stop running.”

Another milestone occurred between halves of the game in Tampa against the Buccaneers. The Bills, far behind at halftime, owned — not just dominated, but owned — the second half.

Despite the loss in Tampa, the Bills’ season momentum changed at halftime.

Now let’s move on to the Bills’ next season.

There are always improvements to be made, but fans around the world should know that this team is thriving.

And as this column urged two weeks ago: It’s time to build a dome – or a stadium with some kind of roof, retractable or not – in Orchard Park.

This great team, these great fans and Western New York deserve it.

Western New York will rightly achieve this when we dream and think big, not small, and dream and think like the champions we are.

Randy Elf’s column urging the construction of such a stadium in Orchard Park is at https://www.post-journal.com/opinion/local-comments/2022/01/build-a-dome-in-orchard -park and https://www.observertoday.com/opinion/commentary/2022/01/build-a-dome-in-orchard-park.

COPYRIGHT c 2022 BY RANDY ELF

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