For the first time in a quarter of a century, the Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game.
Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time this season, the Bills beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 on Saturday in a wild-card game that was also their first playoff game in Orchard Park since Dec. 30, 1995, when they beat Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins 37-22.
“It’s been a long time since Bills mafia has been able to celebrate like this,” quarterback Josh Allen said postgame on CBS. “But again, it’s one game. I am just happy for a chance to be able to play next week.”
Allen was far improved from his first playoff game last season, completing 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, adding 54 yards and another score on the ground. He became the youngest player in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and complete 70% of his passes in a playoff game, per ESPN Stats & Information.
General manager Brandon Beane, who signed a multiyear contract extension in December, said the prospect of bringing a once-proud franchise back to prominence influenced his decision to leave a path to the GM job with the Panthers in 2017 and take over a Bills team that hadn’t been to the postseason in 17 years.
Getting a playoff game at home was one of his top priorities once he and head coach Sean McDermott arrived.
“This was an opportunity in a place that’s been down for so long that had such a great tradition, and still has a great fan base,” Beane said in December. “How exciting would it be to get this thing turned around and host playoff games here? That’s what Sean and I want. We want to win the AFC East so that we can host games here. That’s been the goal all along, and I think at the end of the day, hopefully, we can get that done this year.”
The Bills won the AFC East in 2020 for the first time since that 1995 season, registering their best record (13-3) since 1991 in the process. Riding a six-game win streak entering the playoffs, Buffalo had beaten those six opponents by an average of 19.8 points.
Playing in their first one-score game since Week 8, Allen said Saturday’s win proved the Bills can win the close ones, as well.
“This is the playoffs — this is what it’s going to be,” Bills receiver Cole Beasley said. “It’s going to come down to the wire every time. … Teams play their best football in the playoffs.”
Playing through a knee injury, Beasley caught all seven of his targets for 57 yards. He credited Bills fans — in the stands for the first time this season — for a “boost,” saying he “needed a little extra” in his first game since Week 16.
Buffalo scored 17 unanswered points following the stop, and the teams traded points in the fourth quarter en route to a thrilling finish.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Marcel Louis-Jacques