Last season was unlike any other for most Buffalo Bills fans, as the team went on to win thirteen games in the regular season. Not only did the Bills have great team success, but it was also accompanied by plenty of highlight moments. Within just about every single game from 2020, there’s a memorable moment.
This isn’t something I’m very used to as a Bills fan. I have plenty of memories from games that the Buffalo Bills got completely blown out. As in, there aren’t any highlight plays to be optimistic about. There really wasn’t any of that this past year. Yes, the Bills did lose in ugly fashion to the Tennessee Titans, but there were also some good plays mixed in there despite a lopsided final score. Similarly, there were some good plays made in the loss to the Chiefs during the regular season.
The point I’m trying to make is that we were all privileged as Buffalo Bills fans to have experienced the 2020 Bills season despite not winning the whole thing. There were plenty of positives to grasp onto from last year. Hopefully, the Bills can build off of those positives from last year to put together a string of positive plays that can result in a Super Bowl Victory.
10: Gabriel Davis’ go ahead diving TD vs Dolphins
To start things off, we go all the way back to Week two. The Buffalo Bills got out to a big lead in the first half against the Dolphins but allowed them back into the game. We should all be aware of the third quarter narrative from the beginning of last season.
Well, this game was a prime example of that as the Dolphins were winning by three with six minutes left in the game. On a 3rd and goal from the six-yard line, the Bills line up in shotgun formation with Davis on the right side. Allen gets flushed out of the pocket and Davis shows his first play of being quarterback-friendly.
Allen rolled out to the right to make a play, but Davis’ route had him cutting inside to the left. Once Davis identified that Allen was rolling out right, he broke off his route and came back to the right side to make an excellent diving catch. Not only was it a great catch, but it gave the Bills the lead with less than six minutes left in the game. This was a big moment for the Bills as a team, but also a formative moment for Davis.
9: Tre’Davious White INT vs Seahawks
Although this interception by White wasn’t the root cause for beating the Seahawks, it was a very big moment. Up fourteen points on the Seahawks with ten minutes left in the game, this possession was the last chance the Seahawks had to put themselves back in the game.
On 3rd and 25, the drive was all but over. White was responsible for the underneath route but understood the down and distance. So he peeled off of his assignment and undercut D.K. Metcalf’s route. Not only did White cause the turnover, but he also returned the interception within the Seahawks’ five yard-line. This virtually guaranteed the Buffalo Bills points on that drive, thus driving up the differential to three possessions and closing the door on the Seahawks’ opportunity to come back.
8: Stefon Diggs’ 3rd TD vs Patriots on MNF
This may not have been a very influential play to the outcome of this game, but it was a very emotional moment. This touchdown from Diggs put the Bills up 38-9 over the Patriots on Monday Night Football. After years of only getting a Monday Night Football game here or there for the last decade, it was nice to stick one to the Patriots in dominating fashion.
Additionally, winning that game wasn’t just about proving the Buffalo Bills’ prowess on a national level, but also on a local level. With that win, the Bills had swept the New England Patriots on the season. A major accomplishment that brought them one step closer to clinching the AFC East Division title.
7: Stefon Diggs 2nd TD vs Patriots on MNF
Do you see a theme developing here? The theme is that emotions play a big role in this top ten list. It’s not just about the most impactful plays to winning games. It’s also about what just one play means on a macro level.
When Diggs broke away from Patriots cornerback JC Jackson, all my anxieties about beating the Patriots disappeared. Going into that game, I was worried because of all the years of being dominated by the Patriots. However, with this touchdown, the Buffalo Bills would take a 24-9 lead over the Patriots entering halftime. Obviously, no lead is safe against the Patriots, but after that play, my confidence in the Bills skyrocketed. I actually felt like the Bills were worthy of being the AFC East Division champions.
6: Jerry Hughes scoop and score vs Broncos
Once again, this play was not the primary reason the Buffalo Bills won this game, but it was a very memorable moment. Just after starting the 3rd quarter, the Broncos were losing by 15 points. On 1st down to start their drive, Tre’Davious White comes on a cornerback blitz and gets a strip-sack on Drew Lock.
There are plenty of players I would rather have returning a turnover rather than Jerry Hughes, but I should probably re-evaluate after that fumble return. Hughes recovered the fumble facing the wrong direction with 21 yards to get to the endzone. He proceeded to force three missed tackles with a series of jukes and scored the touchdowns. Never again will I question Hughes’ running back capabilities.
5: Stefon Diggs go ahead TD vs Cardinals
We all know how this game against the Cardinals ended, but that shouldn’t take away from what happened prior to the “Hail Murray”. With under a minute left, the Buffalo Bills were driving into Arizona territory down only three points. A field goal would tie the game, but Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are top-tier competitors. They go for the win.
With the game on the line, from the 21 yard-line, Allen threw a dime to Diggs in the front left corner of the endzone. Diggs ran a corner route with Patrick Peterson manned up on him, but that didn’t stop Diggs from making a spectacular diving catch in the endzone. This play may end up being forgotten on a national scale because of the final outcome. However, this play will never be forgotten by Buffalo Bills fans. That play is the exact reason why you trade a first-round draft pick for a proven commodity like Stefon Diggs.
4: Josh Allen thread the needle over Fred Werner to Davis
You may be asking why a 2nd and 12 conversion is ranked 4th on this list. I picked this play for one reason; the development of Josh Allen. In Allen’s first two years, he was more than capable of making this throw from an arm talent standpoint. However, it takes more than arm talent to make throws in the NFL. You have to be able to read the defense and anticipate where the open windows are relative to your receivers.
Allen did exactly that on this pass to Gabriel Davis on Monday Night Football against the 49ers. He had an opportunity to throw it to Davis in the first window, but that would’ve made it an easier play for Werner to get his hands on. Instead, Allen waited for Davis to enter the second window and he threw a dime. He put the ball just out of reach over Werner’s outstretched arm with the perfect balance of power and touch. In my 24 years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better pass from a Buffalo Bills quarterback. That’s why this play lands at number four in this top ten list.
3: Kroft’s game winning TD vs Rams
This game-winning touchdown to Kroft obviously deserves the top five spot, but it’s tough to find the right spot. This play to Kroft wouldn’t have been possible without a bevy of other factors. Firstly, if the Buffalo Bills knew how to play football in the 3rd quarter during the first half of last season, there wouldn’t have been a need for a game-winning touchdown. Secondly, the Bills wouldn’t have been in position to score that touchdown if it weren’t for a couple of clutch 3rd down conversions. Most notably, the 3rd and 22 conversion to Cole Beasley.
Nonetheless, the play was made by Kroft in the back left corner of the endzone. Some may say that it wasn’t a great play. That’s fair, but this play earns the number three spot because it was a game-winning catch. Additionally, Allen did not make it an easy catch for Kroft. He really had to go full extension to pull that one back into his body. That game against the Rams was a roller coaster ride altogether. However, if it wasn’t for that catch, the season wouldn’t have started so bright.
2: Taron Johnson pick six vs Steelers
This pick-six by Taron Johnson against the Steelers was perhaps the biggest momentum-shifting play of the season for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills had a tough time getting anything going in the first half of that Sunday Night Football game. The Steelers were leading 7-3 with the ball and one minute left in the first half. About to cross mid-field on a 2nd and 5, Taron Johnson cuts in front of a quick out route by JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Johnson capitalized on his great read, made the interception, and took it to the endzone. Up 10-7 entering halftime, this play gave the Buffalo Bills the shot of adrenaline they needed. This was one of those plays that was the perfect mix of momentum, emotion, and impact on the final score. That’s why it’s considered my second-best regular season play from the 2020 season.
1: Justin Zimmer’s game saving forced fumble
It may surprise some, but my top two plays from the Buffalo Bills 2020 regular season both come on the defensive side of the ball. In this first matchup against the Patriots, the game was centered around defense and running the football. This was perhaps Zack Moss’s best game to that point in his rookie season. However, the Bills still found themselves in a close game.
Up 24-21, the Bills were defending the Patriots as they were driving into the red zone. With under 40 seconds left in the game, the Patriots were on the Bills’ 19 yard-line. The Patriots ran a designed quarterback run for Cam Newton. After four yards gained, Justin Zimmer chases Newton down from behind and forces the fumble. Dean Marlowe was in the right spot at the right time to recover the football. With that recovery, the Buffalo Bills had sealed the deal against the Patriots and had beaten them in what had felt like an eternity.
To me, this play had to be the best moment of the entire regular season despite it being such a low-stakes game. Considering it was early in the season without direct playoff seeding implications. However, beating the Patriots will always hold emotional value. Additionally, if Zimmer doesn’t make that play, there’s no telling what the final outcome of that game would’ve been. Therefore, the Bills might not have swept the Patriots in 2020 if it wasn’t for that play.
Air Raid Hour recap
On yesterday’s episode of the Air Raid Hour, I stood in for Judge again to join Tilt as Co-Host. The main topic of the show was exactly what was covered here in this article. The top plays from the 2020 Buffalo Bills regular season. Tilt and I did a draft to select our respective top five plays to then form a top ten list. We also had some honorable mentions because last year was filled with so many highlight-worthy plays.
If you liked the list, check out yesterday’s episode of the Air Raid Hour to get a deeper dive into these moments from last season. You can check the replay of yesterday’s episode linked and embedded above. We go live every Monday and Thursday at 8 PM EST if you want to be a part of the live chat for future episodes.
As always, go Bills!