In snowy Buffalo, only a long winter remains after the Bills fall short again

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The 70,733 fans who filled darned near every seat at Highmark Stadium on Sunday needed to squint through the snow, driving at times, to see their

Buffalo Bills down on the field. It was fine. They’re used to it. Armies of workers toting leaf blowers and shovels worked to keep the yard lines clean, an effort to give a clear

view of what was transpiring in this AFC divisional-round playoff game. The view, though, wasn’t of a Bills team with which those fans are familiar. Pull the stocking cap

over your eyes and double-cover them with your mittens. The better team won Sunday, and convincingly. And the better team wasn’t the Buffalo Bills. The team making that

statement undeniably true: the Cincinnati Bengals, who all but delivered a clinic in a complete 27-10 victory that set up a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game at Kansas

City. Joe Burrow vs. (presumably) Patrick Mahomes. Cue the hype. It’ll be worth it. The game the league expected — the game the Bills expected — will not happen. When the

expectation is to reach and win the Super Bowl, there is a speeding-car-into-cement-wall suddenness when it ends. Just look at the face of Josh Allen, the Bills’ star quarterback,

reduced to a confused everyman by Cincinnati’s plan and Cincinnati’s players. “Disappointment,” Allen said as he stared into the middle distance. “You play to win. Our

goal is to win a Super Bowl, a world championship, and we didn’t accomplish that. Everything that happened this season is null and void. It sucks.”