Seven days from now, the first Sunday of the 2022 regular season will be fully underway. But first, the defending-champion Los Angeles Rams will raise their Super Bowl banner during the NFL's opening night while playing host to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Sept. 8.
"Going to play the defending Super Bowl champs and watching them raise their banner, that'll be an interesting feeling for sure," Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters Sunday. "And I've talked to a few people who have played and coached in this game before, and just really the unanimous thing that they were talking about was it feels like playoff atmosphere. So, we got to understand that going in, not get too high, not get too low. Understand the flow of the game and just try to put our best foot forward."
The last time Josh Allen took the field with a true playoff atmosphere, the Bills experienced improbable heartbreak at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs after the teams combined for 25 points in the final two minutes of an AFC divisional fourth quarter for the ages.
Left with 13 seconds on the clock and down by three, QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs went 44 yards on three plays to set up a 49-yard game-tying field goal by Harrison Butker. The coin toss went Kansas City's way in overtime, and Allen never saw the ball.
Asked if watching Los Angeles raise a Super Bowl banner might stir up "what ifs" for Allen at the dawn of a new season, the fifth-year QB dismissed such a notion.
"I mean you can get lost in that, but our goal is moving forward and focusing on Week 1 and this season," Allen said. "Again, it starts Thursday night. You can't live looking in the past. We gotta focus on what's ahead."
Despite the loss -- and perhaps due in part to the motivation factor of falling short in such a valiant effort -- many believe what lies ahead for Buffalo involves finally breaking through to reach the big game. Of 25 analysts who made recent Super Bowl predictions on NFL.com, 12 have the Bills lifting the Lombardi come February.
However the Bills manage to navigate the hype, Allen certainly won't be checking the rearview, and he'll be equally wary of looking too far ahead on the road to this year's destination.
"It's Week 1 of a long season," Allen said about facing the Rams. "It's one game, and we're looking forward to playing this game, but it's not going to make our season. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, and you have to take it week by week."
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