The Buffalo Bills are headed to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 after a dominant second half against Baltimore.
A celebration 27 years in the making commenced in Orchard Park on Saturday night.
Stefon Diggs earned 106 yards on eight receptions, one of which went for a score, while cornerback Taron Johnson returned an interception 101 yards for another. Both scores came in the third quarter and allowed the Bills (15-3) to pick up a 17-3 lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs.
The Bills now awaited the winner of the other leg of the AFC Divisional round, with the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns set to go down on Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS). If Cleveland wins, the conference championship will be held at Orchard Park, while the Bills will hit the road if Kansas City triumphs.
ESM has three stars who played a major role in Saturday’s game…
Quick throw to @StefonDiggs for the TD!
Buffalo takes a 10-3 lead. #NFLPlayoffs
?: #BALvsBUF on NBC
?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/apCkRMWr6f pic.twitter.com/HtUb0ufJA6
— NFL (@NFL) January 17, 2021
3rd Star: WR Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs and the Divisional playoff round…after the Minneapolis Miracle and providing the biggest offensive spark on Saturday, it’s hard to find a better combination. Josh Allen wasn’t his usual 2020-21 self, but captured a semblance of it with Diggs, particularly during the game-changing 66-yard drive to open the second half. Facing a brutal 2nd-and-16 after a Pernell McPhee sack, Allen went to Diggs for a 20-yard gain that put the Bills back in Baltimore territory. After some collaboration with Devin Singletary, Allen found Diggs for the score that gave the Bills the lead for good, a three-yard pass to make it a 10-3 game.
oh my god. 101-yard pick-6 for Taron Johnson. Buffalo is going WILD.pic.twitter.com/jPSort9WBs
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 17, 2021
2nd Star: CB Taron Johnson
Johnson may not be a household name quite yet, but arguably no one has done more to shift postseason momentum to the Buffalo side than Johnson. One week ago during the Wild Card round, Johnson’s crucial goal-line tackle of Jonathan Taylor on third-and-goal led to a turnover-on-downs and prevented Indianapolis from taking a scary two-possession lead. This time around, Johnson’s shifting became NFL history, as he took back a Lamar Jackson interception 101 yards for a touchdown, tying an NFL playoff record that George Teague held by himself for 27 years.
The Bills are going to have to keep doing this if they want to win this game. It's not going to be easy though, because Lamar Jackson is like freaking Houdini. pic.twitter.com/2FC1j0r5AL
— QuikIsTheName1991 (@ChargersVice) January 17, 2021
1st Star: DE Jerry Hughes
One of the Bills’ rare leftovers from their 17-year playoff drought…which becomes more distant of a memory with each passing victory…Hughes played a major role in making Jackson and the Baltimore run game feel uncomfortable. Hughes posted his second multi-sack playoff game in Buffalo (his first coming during their postseason cameo in Houston last year) with two takedowns and two other quarterback hits. The latter category might’ve been even bigger than his sacks. One play before Johnson’s pick-six to glory, pressure from Hughes forced Jackson to rush his pass to a wide-open Marquise Brown. The resulting incompletion paved the way for Johnson to make history and for the Bills’ conference title game dreams become an even truer reality.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags