Allen, Bills Escape Against Colts
What a way to kick off the postseason.
In dramatic, nailbiting fashion, the Buffalo Bills – the No. 2 seed in the AFC – held on at home, defeating the seventh-seeded Indianapolis Colts in the opening game of these NFL playoffs.
Here are the key takeaways from Buffalo's win.
1. The Bills are for real
A gritty win always says more about a team than an easy one.
Buffalo was forced to fight to the end by an experienced and talented Colts squad, led by veteran gunslinger Philip Rivers.
Rivers finished the day 27-for-46 for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and was nipping at the Bills' heels all day, never allowing Buffalo to open up an insurmountable lead.
But every time Rivers made it close, Josh Allen and the Bills responded.
Allen completed 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with superstar wide receiver Stefon Diggs six times for 128 yards and a score, a 35-yarder that gave the Bills a 24-10 lead with 14:10 left in the game.
But the Colts responded quickly via a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard TD pass from Rivers to Zach Pascal.
Buffalo tacked on a 54-yard field goal on its next possession, but Rivers once again countered with points of his own, throwing a 27-yard dime to Jack Doyle to cut the Bills' lead to three, 27-24.
Indy would have its final chance to tie or take the lead with 2:30 left in the final frame. However, a 13-play drive only amounted in 39 yards and a failed Hail Mary attempt to end the game.
The win equals Buffalo's first playoff victory since 1995. The Bills qualified for the playoffs in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2017 and 2019, but were winless in those five appearances.
In addition to his passing scores, Allen also rushed 11 times for 54 yards and a touchdown, and his 121.6 passer rating was the tenth time he's eclipsed the 100.0 mark this season.
2. The Colts' mistakes
Buffalo did what it needed to do to win – but they had some help from the Colts.
Indianapolis made a number of mistakes and had a few questionable decisions throughout the day that left football minds and fans a bit perplexed, and the first came right before halftime.
Trailing 10-7 late in the second quarter, Indy made its way down to the Buffalo 4-yard line for a first-and-goal situation.
However, three plays later, Indy was looking at a fourth-and-goal, but instead of taking the points and tying the game, the Colts went for it and fell short, allowing Buffalo to maintain the lead.
Moving on to the third quarter, after a 14-play, 60-yard drive moved the Colts into field goal range, with Indy trailing 17-10, Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 33-yard field goal that cost Indy points once again.
Another mysterious call by Indianapolis took place with 11:42 left in the fourth quarter. After a Rivers touchdown strike to Zach Pascal made the score 24-16 in favor of Buffalo, the Colts opted to go for two after a neutral zone infraction on the extra point attempt moved the ball to the 1-yard line.
Indy failed to convert the 2-point attempt and the contest remained an 8-point game.
Colts fans will be left with a heaping of what-ifs after Saturday's loss.