25 years. Man, 25 years ago, I was … young … ish. That was such a long time ago, and not winning a playoff game has become normal. I’m used to it. All of the accolades, the stats, the high-flying moments, it was like they were nice memories, but now that the playoffs had come, the same old Bills would show up in the stadium.
Was it the best game for our boys? Hardly. This was maybe our worst game in a couple of months in some ways, but the playoffs guarantee tested opponents, so no win will be easy. I saw tears and exuberance on Twitter following the game, high emotion energy, and it felt like we got past something, like for the first time in a while, we were free of some demon that had us locked up for so long. Congratulations, Bills Mafia. You earned this.
In case you were too scared to watch on Saturday (I understand.), here are some highlights from the game:
And here are 10 things I think I think about our Buffalo Bills following the Wild Card weekend win!
1. The monkey is off our back and has been thrown through a fiery folding table!
Did Josh Allen have a monkey on his back? I don’t think so. He’s been to one playoff game in two years, and he barely lost it to a good team. But man, was there a Mountain Gorilla on the collective backs of the Buffalo Bills after 25 woeful years of playoff losing. Allen certainly felt that on Saturday. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how we won that game at 1 pm. I don’t care that it was close … the key thing was to break that streak. After the 17 year no-playoff drought that we ended by backing into the playoffs, we’ve been in two of the three following years. It’s about getting past that. And getting a playoff win under the team’s belt is certainly a relief, and I’m curious how they play in the games to come.
2. The team looked tight.
Maybe it was that monkey/gorilla. I don’t know, but the boys looked tight out there against the Colts. This is a solid Indianapolis team (Remember, that all AFC playoff teams had at least an 11-5 record.), but the boys didn’t look like their jovial dancing selves on Saturday. I imagine the Houston game haunted them some, and the fans in the stands may have added to that pressure. Still, one of the biggest tests for great teams is if they can win in adversity, win the close games. The boys did that.
3. Milano was both goat and G.O.A.T!
Matt Milano … jenga piece? Milano has been the heartbeat of this defense since he started with us. He is our Thomas Davis, flying around, making all of the tackles, and covering people like your grandma’s quilt. Yesterday, Milano had an excellent statistical game. He led the team in tackles with 11, .5 tackles for loss, and had a pass defensed. But the tight ends in the Colts’ attacks took advantage all day. Typically, the Bills under McDermott have been good against TEs, but yesterday, they tore us up in big spots with 14 catches for 136 yards and a TD. Milano had a great game, but he was not his best in pass coverage yesterday. Still, he was a beast, and he will surely be happy to have the dub.
4. Micah Hyde had his best game all season.
I don’t know how it’s possible, but all season, Micah Hyde has been like Claude Rains in 1933: The Invisible Man. Yesterday, he came out of the shadows and had his best game all season. He finished with seven tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and THREE passes defensed. I think the moment we’ll all remember from him in this game is him stoning the Colts RB on short yardage single-handedly … or maybe him doing his best Mutombo impersonation when he swatted Rivers’ hail Mary attempt at the end of the game. He’s got to work on that gravely, deep voice and say, “Not in my house!”
5. Gabriel Davis got that toe drag swag!
Gabe Davis is a baller. He’s still a work in progress, for sure, as he can disappear for long stretches, but he is a big play dude. Multiple times on Saturday, Davis made a beautiful catch and, despite his big frame, was able to get his toes inbounds. He seems to be improving during the scramble drill (as Allen is running for his life), and his hands are quite good. I’m impressed with his body control and his ability to step up in the moment. I would still like to see him play bigger than he has, as he can get pushed around a little bit and beaten on effort on some routes (the interception in Miami), but the kid is getting better, and he can block. I like him, and one has to wonder what his improvement means for the WR make up next season …
6. Moss is out. Antonio Williams time?
Zach Moss went down with an ankle injury. It didn’t look good, and from what I’ve heard at least today, he will miss time and may not be back this season. Though Moss didn’t have a stellar day before he went out (seven rushes for 21 yards), the team had learned to trust him, and he was becoming our #1 back, I think. From the backfield, he also caught four balls for 26 yards. If Moss is out, one has to wonder who will step in to take his place. Some have argued that it should be Yeldon because of pass protection, but, of course, there is a cadre of Bills Mafia that would love to see Antonio Williams backing up Motor Singletary because of his physical style and upside. It will be an interesting storyline to track this week.
7. Diggs, Beasley, and Davis looked good … Brown, not so much.
Diggs went off again: six catches, 128 yards, and a TD.
Beasley played hurt but contributed in big moments: seven catches for 57 yards.
Gabe Davis offered some big plays: Four catches for 85 yards.
But what about my favorite pass-catcher on the Bills, John Brown? Brown was targeted four times in the game and had zero receptions. There were throws he’d normally catch, and one big pass slipped right through his hands: not very John Brown-esque. He has been Mr.Reliable on this offense, but on Saturday, he looked shook, and if we are going to go far in these playoffs, we’re going to need ol’ Brown back again. Exorcise, those demons, John! The power of Marv compels you!
8. Pass rush? What pass rush?
Yeah … what pass rush? Look, I know the Colts have a very good offensive line, and I know they had a lot of tight ends in the game, but our defensive line (one of the most expensive in the NFL) and blitzing LBs accounted for zero sacks and one QB hit all game. All pregame, people talked about how Rivers was a statue, unable to move, but we didn’t come close. There was no pressure. There was no ability to get him off his spot in big moments. This is a huge issue going forward. We allowed 163 yards on 30 rushes as well. To keep. moving forward, we need to see these guys ball out.
9. McDermott channeled the Batman villain, The Clock King, to finish the job on Saturday!
Isn’t it funny when something as small as a timeout causes you to giggle and applaud? Well, that is what McDermott did to me when he iced Rivers and that offense at the end of the game following the fumble … wait … it wasn’t a fumble?
McDermott out-coached Reich, who had a great game plan. He did an excellent job of managing the clock and forcing the Colts into a bad situation at the end of the game. McProcess seemed like the one guy on the Bills sideline who didn’t look flustered to some level. It was good to see.
10. Josh Allen, like the Wizard of Oz, was both great and terrible.
Man. Allen was dealing on Saturday as he has all season. He finished 26 of 35 for 324 yards and two passing TDs (and 11 rushes for 54 yards and a TD). So much was on his back this game, as he also led the team in rushing. Still, Allen had moments of regression, moments of crazy Josh, and despite his heroic effort, almost gave the game away by taking a terrible sack (THROW THE DAMN BALL AWAY, KID!) and fumbling at the end of the game. Luckily, Daryl Williams said, “I got you,” and recovered the fumble and saved the game. The team feeds off Allen and his energy. After the game, he looked shocked, stoic, as if he’d lost. He’s got to get his swag back and let the game slow down. The Ravens are a big boy team, and we’ll need Josh to be his best self next week to move on to the AFC Championship game.
- Damn! Tyler Bass might be the bastard son of Brandon Beane because that was a big baller 54-yard kick he made. That kid has some guts and some swag.
- Andre Roberts. Dude, you’re a baller. We all know that. But it’s OK to just take a knee in the end zone now and again. Our field position was terrible most of the game, and sometimes, you got to take the small stuff.
- Singletary only had three rushes, but they went for 21 yards. He’s going to get a much bigger workload next week … I’m keen to see what he does with those touches.
Guys. We won a playoff game. The Bills won. We won! We are on to the divisional round. We got that win we needed out of our system, and now it’s time for us to switch on the afterburners. Time to play lose and step on necks. It’s time to do what we should have done so many years ago ….
On a fun note, the Bills have not lost a game since I’ve been watching them with my girlfriend, Candice. She was not a sports fan, but she’s enjoyed learning about football, and Saturday, after the game, she said to me, “You know, I’ve never seen the Bills lose.” She said it so matter of factly … can you imagine?
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, questions, or advice on how to make my blueberry muffins a little fluffier, hit me up on Twitter at @adamnannini