The game plan for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday appeared to be to throw the ball Sammy Watkins' way over and over, and it worked well early. By halftime against the Kansas City Chiefs, the second-year receiver already had 158 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. His second score gave the Bills a 16-7 lead.
Then inexplicably, on what looked like it would be a career day for Watkins, the Bills stopped throwing to him altogether. His nine first-half targets were more than he received in any game so far in 2015. While he torched the Miami Dolphins for 168 yards and a touchdown in Week 9, he caught all eight of the passes intended for him. But then Watkins was targeted just one time in the second half -- an incompletion -- on Sunday as the Chiefs roared back from a 16-14 halftime deficit to win 30-22.
It was clear that the Bills decided that Watkins was going to be made a significant part of the offense, even if it had to come against Sean Smith, who entered Week 12 with just one touchdown allowed. The former Dolphins cornerback was actually playing very well in 2015 before he had to line up against Watkins and opposing quarterbacks had just a 64.5 passer rating against him.
Of course, the sudden drop-off for Watkins likely had a lot to do with halftime adjustments that tightened coverage, but the Bills stopped even trying to get arguably their best playmaker involved and that's a problem.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, made a commitment to get their playmaking receiver the ball throughout the game and it led to a win. Jeremy Maclin had three receptions of more than 30 yards and the Chiefs also got him involved with screen passes underneath. By the end of the game, he had 160 yards receiving on nine receptions and a touchdown.
Watkins' first half was the first 150-yard receiving performance with two touchdowns for the Bills since Lee Evans torched the Houston Texans in the first half before finishing with 265 yards and two touchdowns in 2006. But Watkins never got to 200 yards because he didn't add a single additional yard in the second half.
Even with Watkins lighting up the Chiefs' secondary in the first half, the Alex Smith-led Kansas City offense kept things close by not making mistakes and striking on big plays. For the fourth straight game, the Chiefs avoided a turnover altogether, making them the first team to do so since the Smith-led San Francisco 49ers did in 2011.