ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills earned their first playoff victory in a quarter-century on Saturday when Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes, scored another rushing, and Micah Hyde batted down Philip Rivers’ desperation pass for a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card game.
Buffalo snapped an 0-6 postseason skid by winning its first playoff game since a 37-22 win over Miami on Dec. 30, 1995. And it came in the Bills’ first home playoff game in 24 years, with a limited number of 6,700 fans in attendance for the first time this season.
Allen finished 26 of 35 for 324 yards, with a 5-yard touchdown to Dawson Knox and a 35-yarder to Stefon Diggs.
The game wasn’t decided until the final play, when Rivers faced fourth-and-11 from Buffalo’s 47. Rivers heaved a deep pass for T.Y. Hilton, who was surrounded by defenders in the right side of the end zone. Hyde broke through the crowd of bodies, leaping up and batting the ball to the ground.
It just so happens, Hyde was one of three Bills defenders that failed to do the same thing in allowing DeAndre Hopkins’ 43-yard leaping catch in the final seconds of Arizona’s 32-30 win over Buffalo on Nov. 15.
Buffalo (14-3) has won seven in a row since that loss.
Rookie kicker Tyler Bass accounted for the decisive points by hitting a 54-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 27-16 with 8:08 remaining.
The Bills added a new entry to a season in which they’ve busted numerous slumps. Buffalo won its first AFC East title in 25 years, and matched a single-season record in victories set in both 1990 and ’91.
The Colts (11-6) ended a season in which they won 11 games for the first time since 2014, and reached the playoffs for the second time in three years under coach Frank Reich.
Rivers finished 27 of 46 for 309 yards and had his career playoff record drop to 5-7 in completing his first — and potentially last — season with the Colts as he ponders retirement.
With his 5-yard TD rushing and TD completion to Knox, Allen became the fifth player since at least 1940 to score a touchdown rushing, passing and receiving in his playoff career. Allen scored on a 16-yard catch from John Brown in a 22-19 OT loss at Houston a year ago.
Allen joined Nick Foles, Kordell Stewart, Freeman McNeil and Julian Edelman
The Bills finally had a chance to play in front of their fans this season. State guidelines required each person, including stadium staff and media, to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of kickoff before entering.
Fans were limited to sitting in groups of two and four and scattered throughout the 70,000-seat facility.
They cheered everything from the Bills taking the field for pre-game warmups to Buffalo winning the coin toss.
Colts: Their season is over after losing in the wild-card round for the first time since 2012.
Bills: They advance to the divisional round for the first time since the 1995 playoffs.
It is a gorgeous day in Orchard Park and not just for January. Bills fans would sign up for this type of weather two months ago. The temps are in the low 30’s with next to no wind and very little cloud cover. It might feel a little colder as the game goes on.
There are 6700-plus fans spaced out over the lower two sections of Bills Stadium. It’s the first time all year the Bills have played at home in front of fans. While the noise level is nothing that will distract an opponent, the look of the stadium is incredibly different. Even at less than ten percent capacity, the fans will have an impact today.
The Bills won the toss and elected to defer. Indianapolis will get the ball first.
Colts move the ball a bit. Jonathan Taylor nets 21 yards on three carries and Indy gets to the Bills’ 40 yard line. However, Buffalo stops the drive with a tackle for a loss and two pass break ups. Indy punts and pins Buffalo at their own three yard line.
The Bills open with a three and out for only the 4th time this. Corey Bojorquez hammers a punt 54 yards with no return after a fair catch. Indy does find the red zone after back to back 20 yard passes. The Bills D stiffens from there and holds Indy to a 30 yard field goal. Colts on top first at 3-0.
Colts kickoff is short and bounces away from Andre Roberts. The second team all-pro had to fight just to cover the kick. The Bills take over on their own 15. The Bills quickly start looking like the Bills. Josh Allen took a huge shot on the opening play, but followed with a first down scramble. The next play is a 36 yard pass to Stefon Diggs where Diggs had to hang on after a walloping. Allen then scrambled and hit Gabriel Davis for 16 more. The TD was pure Brian Daboll genius. On 2nd and goal from the three, Allen runs right and just as it looked like he was going to take a five yard loss, Allen shot putted the ball over the pile to a wide open Dawson Knox in the end zone. Bills lead 7-3.
Indy runs the kickoff back to the 42 yard line. It would have worse if not for ol’ one eye (black) Tyler Bass making the tackle. After a quick first down, the Bills stop the drive thanks to an excellent Micah Hyde pass break up. T.Y. Hilton was open near the goal line on third and five, but Hyde stuck his arm between Hilton’s hands and kept the ball from reaching the Indy receiver. Bills take the punt at their own ten yard line and go to the second quarter up 7-3.
Allen is taking some hard shots this game. He gets piled out of bounds on a second down run that lost two and then he gets lifted up and form tackled on a third down scramble. The Bills are forced to punt again and Indy starts from their own 34.
Colts score their first touchdown on an impressive drive. Indy converted a third and 4 near midfield on a short pass to Taylor where he had to do all the work. The next snap was a darn good throw from Philip Rivers to Michael Pittman, Jr. for 32. Taylor finished off the drive from the 1. Bills are down again at 10-7.
Roberts probably makes a poor decision to bring the kickoff out from a couple yards deep in the end zone. He’s tackled on the 12 yard line AND the Bills commit a hold. This drive will begin from the six yard line. The Bills then go three and out for the third time in this game. Zack Moss got eight yards on first down, but was held to one on second down. Allen rushed the Bills to the line for the third and one snap, appeared to call two audibles and then gave to Moss who was stuffed at the line. A solid Indy punt return gives the Colts the ball back on their 41 yard line.
Indy seemed poised to take a two-score lead. Two first down passes to tight ends got Indy to the 4. They had third and goal from the 1 at the two minute warning. However, Taron Johnson stopped Taylor for a three yard loss. The Colts go for it on 4th down and a throw to Pittman is just too long. The Bills hold the deficit at 10-7.
This next drive is bananas. Gabriel Davis makes two catches that total 56 yards and both were in bounds by inches. Maybe. Davis’ footwork on both was excellent. Then, the Bills draw Indy offside on a 4th and 3 with just over 30 seconds left in the half. The next snap is a near INT that had to be overturned by replay. Finally, Allen finishes the drive with two runs for 21 yards. The second is a five yard score that puts the Bills up 14-10 with 14 seconds left in the half. Staring a ten point deficit in the face, Buffalo goes the locker room with the lead.
Bills get the opening kick for the second half and immediately needed to convert a third and long. Cole Beasley does so with a catch just short of the sticks and a spin to get the sticks. The Bills go no-huddle for a lot of this drive and get inside the Indy 30 yard line on a 16 yard throw to Diggs. However, the drive stalls when Allen is stuffed on a third and two run. Bass makes a 46-yard field goal and increases the Bills lead to 17-10.
Colts convert first three third down tries to get inside the red zone, but Rivers pass on the fourth third down try is a bit behind his receiver. Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship then hits BOTH uprights on a 33 yard field goal try that does not go through. Bills still lead 17-10.
The Bills take firm control of this game with a 35 yard TD pass from Allen to Diggs. He beat T.J. Carrie by a couple steps and Allen put a perfect ball on him. Moss was injured on the play before and carted off the field with what looked like a lower body injury. Buffalo is in good shape for this game, but Moss’ situation could be a problem down the road.
Colts aren’t going away quietly. Back to back 20-plus runs by Hines and Taylor get Indy to the Buffalo 26 yard line. Indy then converts a third down to Zach Pascal for a 9-yard TD. Indy went for two after the Bills jumped offside on the PAT, but Taylor was stuffed. Bills still lead, but it’s now 24-16.
Back to back 16 yard catches by Diggs and then Beasley get Buffalo to the Indy 40. The drive stalls there, but Bass buries a 54-yard field goal and that, once again, gives Buffalo a two score lead at 27-16. Not quite an end of the game winner, but a big kick for the rookie.
Colts race back down the field in two minutes. The last three plays are a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton that converted third and long, a 33 yard Hines run and a 27 yard TD to Jack Doyle where it appeared the Bills blew a coverage. Indy also got a two-point conversion on a pass to Burton and it’s back to a three-point game in Orchard Park.
The Bills responded with an 8-play 33-yard drive that was disrupted by a terrible that was upended by a 17-yard loss when Josh Allen was sacked while trying to escape from a pass rush. Bills ultimately punted and Colts took over on their 14-yard line with 2:30 left to play.
The game came down to a fourth and ten, the Colts converted for yardage, but it went under review after an apparent fumble, recovered by the Bills. After the review, the refs decided the player was down and the Colts maintained possession with 28 seconds left at midfield.
Bills held them.
Bills, 27, Colts 24
Closer than Bills fans wanted, but a win is a win. \
Josh Allen completed 26 of 35 for 324 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also added 54 yards on 11 rushes.
Another great game for Stephon Digg with 128 yards and six catches and a touchdown.
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