With Fish Squished, Bills Seek Division Title on Christmas Eve in Chicago
Saturday night was a magical night inside Highmark Stadium. Between all the hype leading up to the game after what happened in Miami in Week 3, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel wearing an “I Wish It Were Colder” shirt at practice days before, the snow starting to fall right as the Buffalo Bills were mounting their comeback in the fourth quarter, and Josh Allen, the winter soldier himself, doing superhuman things while leading his troops down the field to beat the Miami Dolphins on a walk-off field goal, it was truly cinematic. You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Down 29-21 with just under 12 minutes remaining, the Bills possessed the ball twice, scored on each drive, and chewed up almost nine minutes of clock while doing so. Meanwhile, the Dolphins only got the ball once during that span… The Bills defense forced them to punt after just three minutes (3:06 to be official).
Following that punt (where Nyheim Hines snagged it over his head on the 7-yard line), the Bills went on a 15-play, 86-yard scoring drive. That was when Tyler Bass kicked a game-winning 25-yard field goal as time expired. They never let Tua Tagvailoa, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and the Dolphins’ high-powered offense touch the ball again.
However, this wasn’t just any win for Buffalo. With this BIG DUB, the Bills clinched a playoff berth, widened their lead in the division by three games, AND maintained control of the 1-seed in the AFC standings. After improving their record to 11-3 (and dropping the Dolphins to 8-6), the Bills now have a 99.9% chance of winning the AFC East. A win this Saturday in Chicago will give the Buffalo Bills their third straight divisional title, after they went 25 years without one.
What They Said
Bills safety Jordan Poyer summed up everyone’s thoughts during his post game press conference Saturday night.
“It was almost like it was all supposed to happen… it was actually kind of surreal. It was a fun atmosphere though.”Poyer on the 4th quarter
Bills head coach Sean McDermott was all smiles during his post game presser.
“Glory to God, man. Another Bills win, great atmosphere, great environment tonight in Orchard Park… little bit of snow in the fourth quarter to add to it, which was Buffalo’s signature right there.”McDermott following the win
With the win, McDermott has taken his team to the playoffs in five out of his first six years, something that only 10 other head coaches have done in NFL history.
“Very humbling. Just coming here, moving my family here years ago, Terry and Kim giving me and my family an opportunity to do this for the first time… really just a product of great people around our organization. I’m one piece of it, really.”McDermott on going back to the playoffs
McDermott said that it means so much more to him doing it in a place like Buffalo.
“I’m humbled to be a part of it in this great town that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves, honestly. And the fans… this place is unique.”McDermott on Buffalo
The sixth-year head coach even cracked some jokes at the podium, saying that QB Josh Allen is lucky he found RB James Cook for a four-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first half.
“He’s lucky he threw a touchdown pass right there or else… I would’ve probably flattened his tires after the game.”McDermott on Allen’s TD pass to Cook
As for Allen, he understands why his tires were almost flattened.
“That’s either a really good play or a really stupid play. I’m just thankful he came back to the ball and made a play on it.”Allen on Cook’s TD
TE Dawson Knox laughed when asked about that play. He said that Allen has made so many of those plays that you don’t even want to question him.
“That’s one of those where it’s like, when he’s making plays like that, no one says anything. Just tap him on the butt, ‘Good job Josh. Good job being yourself.’”Knox on Allen extending plays
Knox, Buffalo’s leading receiver Saturday night (six receptions, 98 yards, and a TD), said that he sometimes turns into a fan watching his teammate.
“He makes plays that I’ve never seen before. Sometimes you kind of turn into a fan while watching him… I’ve kind of talked about it before. It’s not even surprising at this point. You’re just like, ‘Ahh there’s Josh being Josh again.’ He’s the best quarterback in the league, best football player in the league.”Knox on his QB1
Even if it was almost a “stupid play,” that was just one of the few mistakes Allen made Saturday night, and it wasn’t even a mistake. Allen finished the game 25/40 for 304 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs and a lost fumble for a 119.4 rating. He also added another 77 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Even though Allen’s eyes are on the ultimate prize, he still knows to appreciate the moment.
“You can’t win the Super Bowl unless you make the playoffs.”Allen on clinching a playoff berth
And while Josh did some incredible things on the football field Saturday night, he did something even more incredible off the field.
Next up for the Buffalo Bills will be a trip to frigid Chicago on Christmas Eve, where temperatures are expected to be in the single digits after a huge snowstorm hits the region later this week. Kickoff is set for 1 pm on CBS.
The Bears have the worst passing offense in the league (137.1 yards/game). However, they have the best rushing attack (186.9 yards/game), led by QB Justin Fields, who has exactly 1,000 rushing yards this season. This, along with the weather forecast, could lead the Bills to run more of a 4-3 defense with LB A.J. Klein playing some snaps over NB Taron Johnson.
When asked on Sunday about his defense playing a light box against Miami, McDermott said that it comes down to fundamentals.
“Whether it’s a light box or an eight-man box, playing with better fundamentals, playing with more physicality, more pad level… that’s really where the game starts… and we have to do a better job of that.”McDermott on playing nickel vs. 4-3
Meanwhile, on the injury front, McDermott said that C Mitch Morse is in concussion protocol, DE Boogie Basham (calf) is day-to-day, and OL Ryan Bates (ankle) and DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder) are “improving.”
Additionally, the Buffalo Bills activated OG Ike Boettger from the PUP list, marking his return from an Achilles injury.
With the Bills getting healthier, clinching a third-straight AFC East title in Chicago would be a very nice Christmas present for all of Bills Mafia.
*All player quotes come from the postgame press conferences (via the Buffalo Bills YouTube channel).
Featured Image: Kevin Siracuse