ORCHARD PARK, NY – On the second play of the Buffalo Bills’ game-winning drive against the Miami Dolphins, the offense went downhill thanks to a sack on quarterback Josh Allen.
Facing second and eighteenth on their own 13-yard line, the Bills had to make some big plays or be forced to return the ball to the Dolphins with limited time remaining, but likely in good field position with a tie. Instead, Allen connected to wide receiver Gabe Davis on a 15-yard pass, and the Bills’ offense navigated down the field, taking all of the remaining 5 minutes, 56 seconds off the clock on a 15-play, 65 drive meters.
Helped by interference from a defensive pass on third in Miami territory, the play came down to a 25-yard field goal attempt, which Tyler Bass booted through the uprights after Bills players dusted a spot in the snow for him.
The kick secured a 32-29 victory over the Dolphins and, for a Bills team with title aspirations, a fourth straight season with a playoff appearance. It also gave Buffalo its third consecutive 11-plus campaign, the second-longest streak in franchise history (four straight from 1990 to 1993). The festivities began with Bass and several players sliding in the snow in celebration.
“We’ve had everything to get this one out tonight,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott. “It just makes it special. … You know, like I said, humiliating. Really, that’s how I feel about it. Humiliated to be part of it in this great city that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves, honestly . And the fans, I mean, this place is unique. So, just great. Great.”
Trailing by eight points early in the fourth quarter, the Bills tied the score on their penultimate drive, thanks in large part to a 44-yard run by Allen on a quarterback draft that put Buffalo in the Dolphins’ 20. Allen compared the way he ran to Forrest Gump, the way he picked up his knees and went full speed ahead.
Allen’s long run was the culmination of the Bills’ revitalized rushing offense in the fourth quarter. They ran for 99 yards in the final 15 minutes after rushing for 51 yards combined in the first three quarters. Allen finished with a team-best 77 yards on 10 carries and also threw four touchdowns passes, all of which went to running backs and tight ends, including a 5-yard scoring pass to tight end Dawson Knox on the tying run. Allen then dove for the 2-point conversion that followed.
“He puts on plays that I’ve never seen before. Sometimes you kind of turn into a fan watching him,” Knox said. “Unfortunately I was under a 300-pound 3 technique on that play that he reached the ball on the two points so I didn’t see it until we saw the JumboTron. But I’ve talked about it before “It’s not right now once surprising. You’re like, oh, there’s Josh again Josh. He’s the best quarterback in the league, the best football player in the league. So every time you have him on your team, you have a chance to win.”
The Bills took a 21-13 halftime lead, but all three phases of their play were reversed in the third quarter. The offense kicked for four possessions in a row, the defense gave up two quick touchdown drives, and special teams extended a Dolphins drive courtesy of a kicker penalty on defensive back Cam Lewis.
But when the snow fell in the fourth quarter, things came together for the Bills. After a fumble by Allen, the defense held the Dolphins to a field goal, and Buffalo’s offense provided the consecutive scoring drive to end the game.
“Almost like it was all supposed to happen, right?” Bill’s safety said Jordan Poyer about the timing of the snow. “We didn’t see a lot of snow. We thought we’d see a lot more snow than we did. But yeah, Josh goes down, gets the attack down and scores, and the snow just starts coming down. It was actually kind of surreal. It was a fun, fun atmosphere.”
The Bills remain at the top of the AFC with an 11-3 record, with games remaining against the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. But the sights are now set on hosting many more games at Orchard Park.
“That’s the No. 1 thing Coach McDermott preaches is playoff caliber; you can’t win the Super Bowl unless you make the playoffs,” Allen said. “So that’s Goal No. 1. Goal No. 2 now is to bring in the division. That’s how we’ll do it. We’ll take it game by game. Be ready for next week.”