Bills clinch playoff spot as Josh Allen leads fourth-place comeback

ORCHARD PARK, NY — On the second play of the Buffalo Bills’ winning drive against the Miami Dolphins, the offense fell back thanks to a sack by quarterback Josh Allen.

Facing second and 18 at their own 13-yard line, the Bills needed to make some big plays or be forced to turn the ball over to the Dolphins with little time remaining but probably in good field position with the score tied. Instead, Allen connected with wide receiver Gabe Davis on a 15-yard pass, and the Bills offense cruised downfield, taking all of the remaining 5 minutes, 56 seconds off the clock on a 15-play, 65-yard drive.

Aided by a defensive pass interference call on third down in Miami territory, the game came down to a 25-yard field goal attempt, which Tyler Bass kicked through the uprights after the players from the Beerus helped dust off a spot in the snow for him.

The kick clinched a 32-29 victory over the Dolphins and, for a Bills team with title aspirations, a fourth straight season with a playoff appearance. It also gave Buffalo its third consecutive 11-plus win season, the second-longest streak in franchise history (four in a row from 1990-1993). The celebrations began with Bass and several players sliding down the snow to celebrate.

“It took everything we had to get this out tonight,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “It just makes it special… You know, like I said, it’s very humbling. Really, that’s how I feel about it. I’m honored to be a part of this in this great city that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves.” “. , honestly. And the fans, I mean, this place is unique. So, just amazing. Awesome “.

Trailing by eight points early in the fourth quarter, the Bills tied the score on their penultimate drive, thanks in large part to Allen’s 44-yard run on a quarterback tie that got Buffalo inside the 20-yard line. of the Dolphins. Allen compared the way he ran to Forrest Gump, the way he lifted his knees and sprinted forward.

Allen’s long run was the highlight of the Bills’ reinvigorated running attack in the fourth quarter. They rushed for 99 yards in the final 15 minutes after rushing for 51 yards in the first three quarters combined. Allen finished with a team-high 77 yards on 10 carries and also threw four touchdown passes, all of which went to running backs and tight ends, including a 5-yard TD pass to tight Dawson Knox on the tying drive. the game. Allen then dove for the ensuing 2-point conversion.

“He makes plays I’ve never seen before. Sometimes you become a fan watching him,” Knox said. “Unfortunately, he was under a 300-pound technical 3 on that play where he reached the ball on both points, so I didn’t see it until we saw the JumboTron. But I’ve talked about that before. It’s not even surprising at this point. You’re like, oh, Josh is being Josh again. He’s the best quarterback in the league, the best football player in the league. So anytime you have him on your team, you have a chance to win.” .

The Bills took a 21-13 halftime lead, but all three phases of their game came undone in the third quarter. The offense punted on four straight possessions, the defense allowed two quick touchdown drives and special teams extended a Dolphins drive thanks to a roughing kicker penalty on defensive back Cam Lewis.

But when the snow fell in the fourth quarter, things turned out for the Bills. After a fumble by Allen, the defense held the Dolphins to a field goal, and Buffalo’s offense put together back-to-back scoring drives to close out the game.

“Almost as if everything was supposed to happen, right?” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said about the timing of the snow. “We didn’t see a lot of snow. We thought we were going to see a lot more snow than we did. But yeah, Josh goes down, he breaks down the offense and scores, and the snow starts to fall. It was kind of surreal actually. It was though. A fun, fun environment.”

The Bills remain atop the AFC with an 11-3 record, with games remaining against the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots. But now the eye is on hosting many more games at Orchard Park.

“That’s the number one thing that Coach McDermott preaches, playoff caliber; you can’t win the Super Bowl unless you make the playoffs,” Allen said. “So that’s goal number 1 down. Goal number 2 now is to clinch the division. That’s how we’ll take it. We’ll take it one game at a time. Be ready for next week.”

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