'Playoff Caliber - End of the drought' presented by Connors & Ferris airs tonight on WKBW-TV

Posted Feb 2, 2018

Relive the Bills dramatic Week 17 from the 2017 season when the 17-year playoff drought finally came to a conclusion through the eyes of three key perspectives from the Bills organization.

Kim Pegula couldn’t watch the end of the Bengals-Ravens game.

Head coach Sean McDermott was collecting his thoughts for both potential outcomes.

And Kyle Williams was trying hard to be grateful for what he was led to believe was the end of another year without a postseason.

These were just three of the perspectives at the close of perhaps the most dramatic Week 17 in Bills history – the end of the drought.

Those three perspectives will be shared in depth in tonight’s premiere of ‘Playoff Caliber – End of the Drought’ presented by Connors & Ferris, airing locally in Buffalo on WKBW-TV at 7 pm.

The half-hour program relives the tension, anticipation, worry and ultimate jubilation as the Bills’ 17-year playoff absence came to an end in the final week of the 2017 regular season when Buffalo clinched the sixth, and final, AFC playoff seed.

At the close of Buffalo’s Week 17 win over Miami, Kim Pegula chose to remain in the suite where she watched the Bills-Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium and watch the Bengals-Ravens game on TV, while Terry Pegula went downstairs to the Bills locker room. The problem was before the Bengals game was over, stadium operators in Miami turned the television feed off in the suites.

“All of a sudden the TVs went out,” Pegula said. “They shut off all the TVs in the suite. And there were still a few minutes left in the game. Some friends of mine said, ‘Let’s go watch it out in the hallway.’ I was like, ‘Ahh, I can’t watch. You guys go. I’ll wait here.’ So, I was sitting in a suite with no TV just by myself, hoping and praying with everything going through my head from the whole season. Then I heard this loud roar, this huge cheer. So, I’m thinking, ‘Okay something happened.’

“Someone came back into the suite and said, ‘Cincinnati scored! They just scored!’ At that point they’re telling me, ‘Come on, you have to watch now.’ So, they dragged me out into the hallway and I stood there and watched the last few seconds in the club area with all the Bills fans.”

After thanking his players on the way into the locker room with handshakes for a winning season, head coach Sean McDermott agreed to put the Bengals-Ravens game on before they broke it down with a postgame huddle, knowing he had to prepare the right words for his team for clinching a playoff berth or being on the outside looking in.

“For a first-year head coach that was a unique situation, but I did want them to know that regardless of what happened there was a lot that they accomplished this year in year one and regardless let’s keep our chins up and remember that,” said McDermott. “I was trying to have my mind ready to go for either situation. If that happens the other way, turn the TV off and I’ve got 60 to 70 guys who are going to be disappointed even though we just won a game. That mental dynamic was going to have to be addressed.”

Then there was Kyle Williams, who had just scored his first career touchdown in his 12th season, and wanted his two sons with him in the postgame locker room for what may or may not be his final game. On his way into the locker room he was under the impression the season was over because he had heard a media member say that Baltimore had made an interception.

“I’m walking into the locker room thinking, ‘Well the season is over.’ So, I was just trying to be grateful for what was going on because I’m with my boys,” said Williams. “We’re not going to make the playoffs. Baltimore just intercepted the ball. Trying not to be disappointed and down and just trying to enjoy the time with my sons.

“I walk in and look at the TV and Cincinnati has the ball. I asked what happened and I was told there was a penalty and the interception didn’t count. So, I’m kind of riding the roller coaster and then it goes to 4th-and-12 and you’re thinking what are the odds this is going to work out?”

Everyone knows what happened after that.

And then there were the Bills fans, across the country, around the world, reacting in a way that was appreciated in a new way even by the longest-tenured Bills player.

“It just shows their heart and who they are and I think the greatest thing through all of it is kind of how our fans were showcased across the nation with their pride and their passion,” said Williams of Bills fans. “It wasn’t things happening at the stadium with somebody jumping through a table or sliding off a rail. It was our fans true passion for our football team and their community. I think that was as big a thing as making the playoffs. The country got an opportunity to see our true fans and who they are, which was awesome.”

“The reaction of the fans to me was the biggest thing that meant the most to me. Hearing on the radio people talking about their personal experiences… just really hearing the fans and getting an understanding of what they had gone through the last 17 years and what it meant for them it really hit home for us. It really did,” said Kim Pegula. “That really just reaffirmed why Terry and I chose Buffalo.”

“I’ve been in two Super Bowls so I’ve been around that type of outpouring of support that we got at the airport this year,” said McDermott. “That said, never for qualifying for the playoffs, which for me is a great example of the passion of our fan base and it gives me great encouragement to know what it could be like if we get even further.”

‘Playoff Caliber – End of the Drought’ presented by Connors & Ferris covers AFC Wild Card week, Buffalo’s unquestionable presence in Jacksonville and what the future now holds for this team and their fan base.

“I look forward to continuing what we started. Getting better,” said Pegula. “I know there are key areas where we need to improve both as an organization and as a team. So, looking forward to filling in those holes and getting better every year and getting a championship someday.”

“Finishing the way we finished it obviously stopped the streak or the drought, but it’s a great new beginning as well,” said McDermott. “All things come to an end and all things have a fresh beginning and I think this is the start of a great beginning for all of us.”

‘Playoff Caliber – End of the Drought’ presented by Connors & Ferris, which airs at 7 pm tonight (Feb. 2nd) on WKBW-TV, will also be available on in its entirety beginning midnight Saturday (Feb. 3rd).