Orchard Park, NY–The Buffalo Bills are playing with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose the past few weeks. They are playing like the buffaloes which are emblematic on their helmets.
The second-seeded Bills advanced to a conference semifinal that they’ll compete in next weekend on home turf, their first playoff win since December 1995. They held on to beat the Indianapolis Colts, 27-24, Saturday in Orchard Park, N.Y, in their opening-round AFC playoff matchup.
Buffalo hosted their first home playoff game since December 1996 with a crowd of 6,700 fans in attendance under a plan, approved by state health authorities, where all fans were to test negative for Covid-19.
Josh Allen was the difference of the game, completing 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns. He also ran for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s been a long time since Bills mafia has been able to celebrate like this,” 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.”
Buffalo won the AFC East in 2020 for the first time since that 1995 season, registering their best record (13-3) since 1991. Riding a six-game winning streak entering the playoffs, the Bills had beaten those six opponents by an average of 19.8 points.
The Colts jumped out to a 10-7 lead halfway through the second quarter and nearly extended it when Philip Rivers overthrew Michael Pittman in the end zone on fourth down.
The Bills scored 17 unanswered points following the stop, and both teams traded points in the fourth quarter but Buffalo came up with some huge stops during the waning minutes of the game.
Rookie kicker Tyler Bass accounted for the decisive points by smashing a 54-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 27-16 with 8:08 remaining.
Trailing by three points with 2:30 remaining in the contest, the Colts moved the ball downfield and converted on fourth-and-10 on a pass from Rivers to Zach Pascal — who looked like he fumbled after the catch. Pascal was ruled down by contact, and the call stood after a review.
Buffalo batted down Rivers’ Hail Mary attempt with time running out to seal the win.
The Colts won 11 games for many reasons, they were that good. The eleven wins were the first time since 2014 while reaching the playoffs for the second time in three years under coach Frank Reich. They pushed Buffalo to the brink and had possession at the end of the game to either tie or win.
Philip Rivers finished the game 27 of 46 for 309 yards and had his career playoff record drop to 5-7 in completing his first and potentially his last season with the Colts.
The fans cheered from the time the Bills took the field for pre-game warmups to Buffalo winning the coin toss.
“For fans to get loud and experience that with this team, it would’ve been a shame if we couldn’t do that,” Allen said. “I don’t think guys understand the meaning of winning a playoff game for this franchise, but I think we’re not in tune to that because we want to win more.”
Colts: Their season is over after losing in the wild-card round for the first time since 2012.
Bills: They advance to the divisional round for the first time since the 1995 playoffs.