Sometimes in the playoffs, all you have to do is make that one play.
Sometimes, not much else is working. The teams are all good at this point in the season. They’re going to take away things other teams do well. Sometimes, it just comes down to one chance and you have to grab it if you want to stay alive.
Taron Johnson grabbed that chance for the Bills against the Ravens. It’s incredible story for Johnson this year. He lost his job midseason because Cam Lewis had outplayed him and overtaken him. But, Lewis got hurt, Johnson came back and made the most of his opportunity long before he was running and NFL record-tying 101 yards for a touchdown Saturday night. He’s been very good defending teams on the ground late in the season. He also now has two pick sixes in just over a month.
Teams that win Super Bowls usually have to gut at least one playoff game out. This could be the Bills gut it out game. The offense wasn’t really that good outside Stefon Diggs. They only had 220 total yards–just the second time this season Buffalo was held under 330.
Buffalo scored only one offensive touchdown and the ten offensive points were the lowest total of the year. The wind sure played a factor, but give the Ravens credit. I thought they mixed blitzes exceptionally well. They kept Josh Allen and the offense off balance all night. They came to Orchard Park and did their job.
The Bills defense just did their job better.
We can officially say the Bills are Lamar Jackson’s kryptonite. They have now held him under 200 combined yards in both games against him. He only has two other such games as a starter in his career. I know he didn’t even play the fourth quarter, but that doesn’t matter. The biggest reflection of how well the Bills defense ruined the Ravens came on the first Baltimore drive of the second half.
The Ravens were down, but they weren’t desperate. It was still the middle of the third quarter and the score was only 10-3. Yet, they tried to pass the ball more times than they ran it (9 to 6). This is a team that threw for less yards and attempted less passes than anybody else in the NFL this year. They don’t want to pass. The Bills defense had already taken away the run game enough to put Baltimore out of their comfort zone.
Not only did the Bills defense play well, but they did it exactly when they were needed. The offense was struggling, kicks weren’t going through uprights and the weather made it hard for anybody to do what they wanted. The Bills still won.
Sean McDermott has preached the need to be “comfortable being uncomfortable”. It’s made his team dangerous. They don’t need to win just one way. They can win a shootout. They can also win 17-3. They don’t need their MVP candidate quarterback to make all the big plays. If they need that one play to win a playoff game, even the guys who struggle to remain a starter can make it.
Now, the Bills will get one big chance. Sure, it’s about going to the Super Bowl, but it’s also about going up against the best. Think about the legends of the NFL. They win championships, but they also beat other legends. When it’s Colts-Patriots, Cowboys-49ers, Steelers-Raiders… that’s when those legends are made.
The Bills have passed every test. Checked every Box. They’ve earned the right to take a swing at the king. At the Chiefs. I know they’ve already played KC once, but this will be different. This won’t be a game delayed multiple times by a pandemic (it better not be). This will be a game with everything on the line.
And if the Browns happen to upset Kansas City, then the Bills will have earned the right to be called the kings.
No matter who Buffalo plays, it’ll be one game, one chance to maybe make one play and finally get back to the Super Bowl. It’s exactly where the Bills belong.