The Buffalo Bills Survived A Late Colts Charge To Win Their First Playoff Game In 25 Years

For the first time since 1995, the Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game. The AFC East champions and the pesky Indianapolis Colts kicked off the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an absolutely thrilling football game, and despite the fact that Indy threw everything it could at them late, Buffalo came out on top, 27-24.

Indianapolis rushed out to an early 10-7 lead and appeared to have the perfect gameplan for taking Buffalo down. They relied heavily on their ability to run the ball and asking Philip Rivers to make high-percentage throws in the passing game, but there was an issue: The Colts could not finish drives, getting inside the Bills’ 15 three times and only turning it into 10 points.

Their third trip to the doorstep may have turned the tide of the game — Indianapolis got it down to Buffalo’s 1 but could not punch it in. On the next drive, the Bills went 96 yards just before the end of half and scored on a Josh Allen run.

In a move that was trademarked by the team that had dominated Buffalo’s division for decades, they scored late to end the first half, got the ball to start the second, and got points via a field goal. Their next two drives ended in similar ways — an Allen touchdown toss to Stefon Diggs and a field goal — but Indianapolis kept finding answers. They began to stray from their gameplan and began attacking a little more, which led to a pair of touchdown passes by Rivers, one to Zach Pascal and one to Jack Doyle.

Buffalo managed to get a little cushion between those Colts touchdowns on a 54-yard field goal by rookie kicker Tyler Bass, whose boot into the wind looked like it would have been good from at least 60.

But the Colts kept coming, and after forcing a Bills punt with 2:37 left — the drive was going well until disaster struck and an Allen fumble put them in an insurmountable second-and-33 — Indianapolis got the ball back just before the two-minute warning and needing a field goal to force an extra period.

The game seemed over with less than 30 seconds left. Rivers found his receiver, Pascal, over the middle of the field. Pascal went down to reel the pass in, but got up, started running, and had the ball jarred out by Matt Milano. He was called down on the field, though, and the officials determined after a review that the play stood as called, despite the fact that replays looked to show his knees off the ground and the ball recovered by Jordan Poyer.

It was a controversial decision, but it ended up delaying the inevitable — Rivers attempted a hail mary that would have been short even if it landed in the arms of one of his receivers.