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The Buffalo Bills Outsider: The Monkey’s Off the Back

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First playoff win since 1995. Stud QB taken in the first round of the 2018 draft that was brought in for this very moment. But enough about the Cleveland Browns, let’s talk about the Bills.

The monkey is off your back. For the first time in a quarter-century, the Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game. I would say I know you feel, but I don’t. The Detroit Lions still haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, and I was only eight years old. But I can imagine it feels pretty good, and someday, I hope to experience the joy myself.

This was the perfect win for the Bills. Yes, I am sure a comfortable win would have been better on the ol’ heart, but this win said a lot about Buffalo. Indianapolis played a great game. They’re not a typical bottom seed. There was exactly one team this season that finished in the top 10 in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency: the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts controlled the clock, ran the ball effectively, and outgained the Bills in total yards. The Colts had great field position all afternoon and the Bills were constantly backed up in the shadow of their own goalposts. The Colts had the perfect recipe to upset the Bills…but they lost anyway. When a Zach Pascal fumble should have ended the games and allowed #BillsMafia to breathe a collective sigh of relief, the refs tried to screw it up. It didn’t matter. And when the Colts lined up for a potential game-winning Hail Mary, you know your mind immediately went back to the final play against the Cardinals. But the ball bounced harmlessly to the turf, and the Bills were moving on. They didn’t just win. They overcame a mountain of obstacles that a lesser team would have let defeat them, and they refused to lose. They showed the heart of a champion.

Three Unbiased Opinions

1.) Not the Same Old Josh Allen

Everyone wanted to know how Josh Allen would play after the 4th quarter meltdown in last year’s Wild Card loss to the Texans. Would the MVP level play that we saw during the regular season continue? Allen threw for over 300, ran for over 50, and scored three total touchdowns. More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. I know, there was the 4th quarter fumble that put every Bills fan’s heart in their throat. It was unfortunate, sure, but it wasn’t because of a hero ball play by Allen. Despite being inside his own 15-yard line all afternoon, Allen consistently moved the offense down the field. The TD drives were no gimmes, covering 77, 85, and 96 yards. I feel great about him moving forward.

2.) Defense Needs to Be Better

If there was someone to blame for the Colts creeping back into the game after being down by 14, it wasn’t Allen. It was the defense. Twice in the 4th quarter, the Bills offense scored to take a two-score lead. Twice the defense let the Colts move quickly down the field for a touchdown. They struggled all afternoon to stop the Colts on 3rd down. Frank Reich and Philip Rivers kept them off-balance much of the game. This was the first time in a while we’ve seen the defense let a team creep back into a game.

The defense did step up when it mattered most. Jordan Poyer forced the fumble that wasn’t. When the referee apparently forgot to open his eyes while watching the replay, the Bills’ defense made a few more plays. They stopped the Colts from gaining the extra 10 yard they needed to be in field goal range, and they stopped the Hail Mary attempt to end the game.

3.) Don’t Fear the Ravens

You were probably hoping for a different AFC North team to be coming to Buffalo next Saturday night. The Ravens are playing great football right now, and they were impressive in knocking off the Titans on Sunday. Holding Derrick Henry to 40 yards rushing is no small feat. Still, the Ravens are very beatable. The Bills offense will present several more problems than the Tennessee offense did. And let’s face it, the plan to stop the Ravens is simple. Stop Lamar Jackson. Easier said than done, I know. Take away Lamar’s legs as much as you can and you win the game. I would expect Frazier and McDermott to have a plan that focuses on making Jackson beat you with his arm. They’re good, but the Bills are better.

One Last Thought…

It doesn’t really matter but it needs to be talked about. How in the world did they call Zach Pascal down by contact after that review? The announcers seemed convinced it was a fumble. People all over Twitter had no doubt. CBS officiating expert, Gene Steratore, weighed in, and he thought it was a fumble. Fox‘s Mike Pereira took to Twitter and said it was a fumble. Seemingly, the only person who couldn’t clearly see it was a fumble was the guy making the call. If you’re going to have replay, make the right calls. Pascal’s knee was clearly several inches off the ground before Jordan Poyer’s hand touched his back. It was an inexcusable mistake by the referees, but luckily, “ball don’t lie.” Poyer made a great play on the ball, and he deserved to get credit for a game-winning play. If you watch the replay, he easily could have touched Pascal when he was on the ground to make him down by contact. But he waits, purposely lets him start to get up, and then punches the ball loose. It was a brilliant play.

Keep it rolling, boys. Go win one for all of us fans of playoff cursed teams!

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