The Buffalo Bills made the most of their first playoff opportunity at home in nearly 25 years, ending yet another dubious streak of futility.
The Buffalo Bills have ended countless streaks of futility during this downright magical season. This one, however, might be the sweetest one yet.
Buffalo (14-3) withstood a furious Indianapolis Colts rally in the final minutes, using Josh Allen’s offensive output of 378 total yards to earn a 27-24 victory in the opening Wild Card round of the 2020-21 NFL playoffs. The victory, their first in the postseason since December 1995, comes in the first playoff game they’ve hosted at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park in nearly a quarter-century.
Bills Stadium will now host its first Divisional playoff game since January 1994. They will battle the highest seed remaining between the winners of the remaining wild card matchups. No. 4 Tennessee battles No. 5 Baltimore in Sunday’s early window (1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC) while the battle between No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 6 Cleveland caps off Wild Card weekend at night (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC).
In the meantime, ESM has three game balls to give out from Saturday’s victory…
— Bradley Gelber (@BradleyGelber) January 9, 2021
3rd Star: WR Gabriel Davis
4 receptions, 85 yards
Brandon Beane’s lasting impact on the Western New York area will likely always be choosing Josh Allen in the early stages of the 2018 draft. But his day three gems also played a major role in his recent extension. Day three choices were on prominent display during the first playoff win of the Beane era. Taron Johnson, a fourth-round in 2018, made a major tackle on a third-and-goal that forced Indianapolis into a bad fourth-down call, keeping the deficit at 10-7. On the drive that gave Buffalo the lead for good, Johnson’s 2020 draft counterpart from the fourth round, Davis, channeled his inner Fred Flintstone with several tiptoe sideline grabs that allowed the Bills to take the lead just before the halftime break.
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2021
2nd Star: WR Stefon Diggs
6 receptions, 128 yards, 1 TD
The Bills’ recent success hasn’t made them immune to the fact that their roster, talented as it may be, is relatively low on playoff experience. Diggs, a bonafide postseason hero…nay, miracle worker…brought in a good chunk of it, putting a target on his Buffalo back right from the get-go. He responded by not only topping the league’s receivers in yardage and catches, but setting Bills records every step of the way. Granted his first playoff opportunity in his new settings, Diggs took full advantage in his cleats inspired by the 2003 Buffalo-based comedy Bruce Almighty. Diggs lived up to Jim Carrey’s fictitious surname in the second half, putting up 92 yards and a score that came at the onset of the fourth quarter.
Josh Allen takes it himself!
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 9, 2021
1st Star: QB Josh Allen
26-of-35, 324 yards, 11 carries, 54 yards, 3 total TD
If anything proved that Western New York’s future belongs to Allen…as if anyone needed further convincing…Saturday’s game was perfect concrete evidence. When the Bills needed a score, needed to try and run out the clock…they turned things over to Allen. For some reason, the Bills’ playcalling took the ball out of Allen’s hands during the middle stages of the first half. The rush-heavy diet yielded only three-and-outs and a Colts lead. Once Allen got free reign after the Colts left three points on the field, Allen took over to the tune of a 96-yard drive, capping things off by himself. It was only appropriate that Allen be responsible for the first playoff touchdown scores tallied in Orchard Park since the mid-1990s, as he found Diggs and Dawson Knox through the air, sandwiching the one he took in himself just before the half.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags