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Five things that stood out about the Chiefs’ deflating loss to the Bills

The No. 1 seed is further out of view.

And the Chiefs are starting to become within the Broncos’ view.

The Chiefs fell 20-17 to the Bills on Sunday, doomed once more by the absence of a fourth-quarter comeback. This one came with some argument. We’ll get to that.

The Chiefs now stand two games shy of the Ravens for the AFC’s No. 1 seed, and the Chiefs’ lead in the AFC West is at just one win.

Here are the five observations from immediately after the game:

1. The fourth-quarter comeback?

I covered it extensively during the week, and it’s just as relevant Sunday as it was beforehand:

The Chiefs special-sauce ingredient for years has been the fourth-quarter comebacks.

Gone now.

The Chiefs had three chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but they produced all of three points from them.

Which actually represented an improvement. The field goal to open the final quarter represented their first points while opening a drive trailing in the fourth quarter all season.

It’s long been the separator. Once more, it’s their reason for a loss.

But it would’ve looked a lot different, if not for this:

2. The penalty flag

A familiar foe.

We — and by we, I mean viewers — were robbed of one of football’s best plays of the year.

By a foot.

And a helmet.

Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 25 yards, who stopped his pursuit of the goal line and lateraled across the field for Kadarius Toney to take it the final 24 yards for a touchdown.

Ah, but the flag.

Offsides, offense.

By letter of the rule, Toney lined up with his helmet and foot over the football, making him offside and negating the play.

It led to an angry-as-we’ve-ever-seen-him Patrick Mahomes, who needed to be restrained by teammates from arguing with the sideline official who threw the flag.

But the takeaway? Once more, it puts these guys in the spotlight:

3. The wide receivers

Rashee Rice looks more and more like like he’s going to be a player — even if the second-half fumble killed a promising drive.

On the final drive, Patrick Mahomes targeted him on a play he so rarely likes to throw: the back shoulder throw. He can do some things.

But who else? Rice is about the only wide receiver producing anything. And that’s after an alteration to the rotation.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a diminished role, at least in terms of playing time — because you wouldn’t recognize much of a difference in the snaps.

Simply put and frequently put here: In a year in which the Chiefs haven’t gotten enough from their wide receiver room, they most certainly haven’t gotten enough from their top-paid guy.

In his last nine halves of football, Valdes-Scantling has totaled 47 yards.

Not enough.

4. The hurry-up offense

The lone Chiefs drive to result in points in the opening half came after they transitioned to a rarely-used tool.

Hurry-up.

Their last drive featured their best rhythm and initially the lack of a huddle. How rare is that? As our beat writer, Jesse Newell, pointed out, the Chiefs utilize no-huddle offense less than any team in the league.

It worked. They concluded the drive with a touchdown.

But it’s also a sign of where the Chiefs are — believing they needed to change something, and being willing to have that be something they so infrequently use. Because in regards to the game clock, the strategy didn’t arrive at the best time. It’s the only reason the Bills had a chance to add points before halftime.

The Chiefs clearly prioritized doing anything and everything to try to get the offense going — the back end of it be damned.

5. The slow starts

It ended poorly.

It started poorly.

Again.

The Chiefs have totaled all of three first-quarter points in their last three games combined.

Trailed them all after one. Trailed them all by double digits by halftime.

To be fair, the Chiefs offense hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunity in the previous first quarters — but that’s an indication that the defense hasn’t started nearly as quickly, either. In other words, there’s blame to go around for the deficits.

They actually moved the ball well on the opening drive until an interception ended that thought, but their next eight plays in the quarter totaled all of 18 yards.

More and more, it appears the 2023 Chiefs offense is one fazed by momentum — well, or lack thereof.