ORCHARD PARK, NY – For the first time in a quarter of a century, the Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game.
Playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this season, the Bills beat the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday between 27 and 24 in a wildcard game that marked their first playoff win at Orchard Park since December 30, 1995, and Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins 37-22.
“It’s been a long time since Bill’s Mafia celebrated like this,” said quarterback Josh Allen after the game on CBS. “But it’s a game again. I’m just excited about the chance to play next week.”
Allen, 24, has improved significantly since his first playoff game last season. He completed 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, adding 54 yards and one more score on the floor. He became the youngest player in NFL history to throw 300 yards and complete 70% of his passes in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
General Manager Brandon Beane, who signed a multi-year contract extension in December, said the prospect of bringing a once-proud franchise back to the fore had influenced his decision to quit a path to the GM job with the Panthers in 2017 and join a Bills- Taking over team hadn’t been in the postseason for 17 years.
Having a playoff game at home was one of his priorities when he and coach Sean McDermott arrived.
“This was an opportunity in a place that has not been used for a long time, had such a long tradition and still has a large following,” Beane said in December. “How exciting would it be to turn this thing around and host playoffs here? Sean and I want that. We want to win AFC East so we can host games here. That was the goal all along, and I think at the end of that Hopefully this year we can do that today. “
The Bills won the AFC East in 2020 for the first time since that 1995 season and set their best record (13-3) since 1991. With a winning streak of six games in the playoffs, Buffalo had beaten those six opponents by an average of six 19.8 Points.
Allen played in their first one-score game since Week 8 and said Saturday’s win proved the Bills can win the close ones too.
“These are the playoffs – this is what it will be,” said Bills recipient Cole Beasley. “It will get on the wire every time. … Teams play their best football in the playoffs.”
Beasley played through a knee injury and hit all seven of his targets 57 yards long. He gave Bills fans a “boost” for the first time this season in the stands, saying he needed “a little more” in his first game since week 16.
Indianapolis took a 10-7 lead in the middle of the second quarter and almost extended it when Philip Rivers’ Michael Pittman fell slightly in the end zone on a fourth attempt.
Buffalo scored 17 unanswered points after the stop, and the teams traded points in the fourth quarter en route to a thrilling ending.
Three points behind and 2:30 left in the game, the Colts marched down, moving on a pass from Rivers to Zach Pascal in fourth and tenth place – who apparently fumbled after the catch. Pascal was banned from contact and the call was after a booth check.
Buffalo put down Rivers’ Hail Mary attempt over time to seal the victory.
Indianapolis had scored a goal on each of its two previous trips, but Bill’s coach Sean McDermott was confident of holding on one last time.
“It looked like it was being executed well by our defense,” said McDermott. “I liked the look in their eyes as they took the field for this final drive.”
Watching the ball soar through the air in the final game brought back memories of the Cardinals losing the bills in week 10 – but more for fans than players. Safety Jordan Poyer said he had “all confidence in the world” throughout the game, as did Dawkins, who watched from the sidelines.
“This time I was glad it went up there. Our guys practice it every day; I see it in practice every day,” said Dawkins. “I don’t want to speak for future days, but practice it not to happen. When it went up, I was less stressed because my dogs are prepared for that moment. As you can see, Micah [Hyde] went up and Tomahawked the ball down like he was a starter on the volleyball court.
“That was a two-handed tomahawk spike as a statement like it wasn’t going to happen again.”
The Bills will host a division playoff game this coming weekend, the opponent of which is yet to be determined.
“You’re not good enough for us,” said Allen. “We have to find a way to do our best this week and get a new one.”