Image Credit: © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a while since the Buffalo Bills clinched an AFC East Division title with a win on their home field, but that is exactly what QB Josh Allen and company did on Sunday. In blustery conditions, the Buffalo defense was outstanding. The Bills recorded a 27-10 win over the New York Jets to end the season 10-7 and take home a second consecutive division title.
The conditions on Sunday – gusting winds – were somewhat of a picture of what the Bills have faced all season. There was the surprising upset loss to Pittsburgh at home to begin the season. Buffalo bounced right back to win four straight. Then, there was the stretch of four games where the Bills lost to the Colts, Patriots, and Buccaneers. Resilient once again, Buffalo finished the season with four straight victories.
It was similar on Sunday as the Bills offense sputtered but still managed to take a 10-0 first-quarter lead on an Allen-to-Stefon Diggs touchdown pass and a 41-yard Tyler Bass field goal. The Jets would then actually get back into the game thanks, in part, to the wind.
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Buffalo punter Matt Haack, who hasn’t seen much action the past few weeks, punted 21 yards into the wind giving New York the football at the Bills 45-yard line. The Jets would take four plays to score. The touchdown came on a 4th-and-5 play where Jets QB Zack Wilson hit Keelan Cole, who would score from 40 yards out.
The teams traded field goals before Buffalo RB Devin Singletary took over in the fourth quarter. Singletary would score on consecutive drives for Buffalo and do so within four and a half minutes. His first score was a one-yard run that capped a seven-play, 51-yard drive. The second score was on the receiving end of a five-yard Allen touchdown pass.
That the game was even that close heading into the fourth quarter is hard to believe. The Jets managed just four first downs the entire game. They were held to a franchise-low 53 yards of total offense. For comparison, Buffalo recorded 424 yards of offense and 25 first downs.
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The Buffalo defense was simply phenomenal. The Bills sacked Wilson nine times and held the Jets to just 48 rushing yards. Wilson would end up just 7-of-20 for 87 yards. Take out the sack yardage (82 yards), and you arrive at the 53 yards of total offense for the day.
The wind would keep Buffalo from becoming the first team since 1945 to go three games without attempting a single punt. Buffalo punter Matt Haack was called upon in the second quarter on Sunday for the first time since Dec. 19 when the Bills beat Carolina. Haack would actually be busy on Sunday, punting seven times. The wind was certainly a factor as Haack had kicks of 21 and 23 yards into the wind and had a 53 yarder with the wind at his back.
The Bills had to wait until the final game of the day – the Chargers-Raiders game on Sunday night – to find out their first-round playoff opponent. With the Raiders overtime victory eliminating the Chargers, Buffalo will play host to a familiar foe – the New England Patriots. Game time is set for Saturday, Jan. 15, at 8:15 p.m.
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