Former Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander wants that sigh of relief for Bills Mafia
Former All-Pro thinks beating Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs is weighing heavily on fans
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Bills Mafia is poised to celebrate like never before, which for the rest of the NFL should be a truly frightening thought.
The Buffalo Bills’ rabid and rowdy fan base is already renown around the league for the act of body-slamming into folding tables in the team’s home field parking lot here at Highmark Stadium – including some that have been lit on fire. For them, what would being even more excited look like?
With the way the surging Bills are playing, the answer may come soon.
On Sunday night, the Bills can take another step closer to reaching the Super Bowl when they host the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional round. A victory over the defending Super Bowl champions would enable the Bills to exorcise some postseason demons and, more importantly, advance to the conference title game for only the second time in a generation.
Lorenzo Alexander is among the Bills’ supporters who are counting on it happening.
Formerly a standout linebacker and special teams ace for Buffalo, Alexander learned firsthand about the unique relationship between the team’s highly committed fans and its players. Among the Bills Mafia, the anticipation for Sunday’s game is palpable, Alexander said.
“Will everybody [Bills fans] be tight this week? Yes,” Alexander told Andscape on the phone Wednesday. “As far as potentially beating [Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes in a game that can send you back to the AFC Championship Game … people are definitely gonna be a lot tighter this week because of the history of losing to Pat in the playoffs.
“It will be weighing heavily on a lot of fans’ minds. It feels like when things actually really count, in the playoffs when there’s so much more at stake, they tend to not go right for [Buffalo when it plays Kansas City] for whatever reason it may be. So from that perspective it would be a big sigh of relief if the Bills are able to put the Chiefs out of the playoffs.”
A quick review of the teams’ recent postseason encounters explains the current collective state of mind of the Bills Mafia.
Fairly easily, the Chiefs dispatched the Bills in the 2020 AFC Championship Game, the Bills’ only appearance in the conference title game since the 1993-94 season, with a 38-24 victory. The next season, the Chiefs stunned the Bills in the divisional round, winning 42-36 in overtime after the Bills took a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds remaining on the game clock in regulation play.
Things have been different in the regular season. The Bills have fared quite well against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
In Week 6 during the 2022-23 season, the visiting Bills held off the Chiefs 24-20. Then in Week 14 this season, the visiting Bills survived a late scare to escape with a 20-17 victory. A rare offside penalty called on Chiefs wideout Kadarius Toney negated his potential game-winning touchdown off a backward pass from tight end Travis Kelce with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bills know they’re capable of beating the Chiefs because “they’ve done it, a couple of times in a row now, and in Kansas City,” Alexander said. “But this is really about beating the Chiefs at a time when it can help them get back to the Super Bowl. It’s about winning the Super Bowl.”
From 1991-1994, Buffalo suffered four consecutive Super Bowl defeats. As one could imagine, the Bills Mafia, which rallies around the team in Western New York and throughout the nation, bonded over those painful experiences.
From the moment he signed with Buffalo, Alexander recalls, he was welcomed by the Bills Mafia. Alexander, who retired after the Bills lost in the 2019 AFC wild-card round, spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo, the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins.
Alexander enjoyed his greatest success with Buffalo during his final four seasons. In the 2016-17 season, he finished third in the NFL with a career-high 12.5 sacks. Alexander played in the Pro Bowl and was selected as a second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.
On the matter of potentially winning a Super Bowl championship, Alexander both roots for the Bills and the Bills Mafia.
“Because it has been so long since they’ve been [in the Super Bowl] and how they lost them all back in the day, it would be a big monkey off of [the fans’ backs] to have a couple of things go right against the Chiefs and win,” Alexander said. “And from the organization’s standpoint, too, it would be a sigh of relief to get past the Chiefs. It would be another step and just make everyone feel like, ‘OK, maybe this is our year to get to the Super Bowl and win it.’ ”
For a good stretch now this season, the Bills have looked like a Super Bowl contender.
They’ve experienced an impressive turnaround (at one point this season, the Bills had a record of 5-5), winning five straight to close the regular season and overtake the Miami Dolphins for first place in the AFC East division. The Bills increased their winning streak to six with a victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round. Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen has led the Bills’ resurgence.
Although Alexander is happy for his friends in the organization, he’s even happier for the Bills Mafia.
“It’s just different in Buffalo than anywhere else [in the NFL] because it feels like a college town atmosphere,” Alexander said. “That bond you have with your college, your alma mater, it feels like that when you play in Buffalo. It’s because the Bills are Buffalo and Buffalo is the Bills. In Buffalo, you are raised to be a Bills fan. The community and the organization … you really have this feeling that they’re one. Whether you’re the star player, just a blue-collar guy or the last man on the roster, there’s an elevated sense of respect for what you do.
“There’s almost more appreciation for that guy’s who’s grinding at the back of the roster as a [special teams player] or rotational player [on offense or defense]. There’s no doubt that you’re being lifted up with support. It transcends to off-field stuff as well. You don’t have to be the star quarterback or the star running back to experience that love and connection with the fan base that you may have to in other markets. It’s not just a sense of support or some type of feeling. It shows in actions, like when fans show up to help players dig out of the snow to get to the stadium or get home. You want this [a Super Bowl title] for them. You really do.”
By defeating the Chiefs, the Bills would take another significant step toward achieving their ultimate goal. And if the Bills finally win the Super Bowl this season, the Bills Mafia could party like, well, never before.