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Bills players eye a bigger prize after clinching a playoff spot at home

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Jordan Poyer (21) Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons at Highmark Stadium, January 02, 2022. Photo by Ben Green

Bills Mafia witnessed history on Sunday. 

For the first time since the 1990s, the Buffalo Bills clinched a playoff spot at home in front of almost 65,000 fans. This is the fourth time in five seasons that the Bills have made the playoffs. The team clinched on the road the previous three times, and Harrison Phillips was glad they could share this moment with the fans. 

"It means a lot," Phillips said. … "Anything that we can do for these fans, you guys know how much our football team cares about them. So, not only did we clinch today, but we have an even greater opportunity next week to win the division. We're obviously gonna take our 24 hours and get focused on that, but it was great to do it at home."

Making the postseason has become the expectation since Sean McDermott took over in 2017. McDermott joins Marv Levy as the only two Bills head coaches to earn a playoff berth in four of their first five full seasons with the team. After the team endured a 17-year playoff drought, finding the stability in the coaching staff and the front office is what has set the Bills up for their recent success, but McDermott doesn't want to take all the credit for it. 

"(Clinching a playoff spot) means a lot," McDermott said. "I'm just one piece of it. I think it says a lot about Terry and Kim and what they give us, the resources they've provided us over the years, and the partnership that I have with Brandon and the coaches who've done a phenomenal job. We've had a lot of good players for those four or five years now. It's been a team effort, the fans included. It hasn't all been the highest of highs all the time, but that's to be expected around the NFL."

With the win against the Falcons, the team posted its third straight season with 10+ victories. McDermott became the second head coach in team history with such a streak over three or more seasons, joining Marv Levy's four-season streak in 1990-93. McDermott is now one of three active coaches with 10 wins in each of the last three seasons, joining Andy Reid (7 straight) and Matt LaFleur (3 straight). 

One of the biggest factors in McDermott's success is the decision that he and Brandon Beane made to draft Josh Allen in 2018. Allen is the leader of the team and the face of the franchise, and his stellar play is a big reason why the Bills have been Super Bowl contenders in 2020 and 2021. 

If you asked Allen, he definitely wouldn't take all of the credit but he's grateful to be a part of something special here in Buffalo. 

"You look at the culture that we've got going on here," Allen said. "I think just kind of shows that the groundwork and the foundation that has been set in the last few years is paying off from the top down. Kim and Terry, what they've been able to do, who they've hired, who they brought in, the GM that we've got, the head coach that we've got, the camaraderie that we've had the last few years, and the coaching staff, too. I think that all pays dividends. Our goal at the start of the year is to give yourself a chance to win the Super Bowl and you can't do that unless you make the playoffs." 

"Everything we want is in front of us. I know a few weeks back it seemed pretty dull, but again, we've got guys in this locker room that just want to help this team win, no matter what way they can, and you see it pay off on the field and we have to keep things going."

With a game against the Jets up next in the regular-season finale, the Bills are now one win away from being crowned AFC East Champions. The Bills would be back-to-back division champions for the first time since 1990-1991. While this win and clinching a playoff spot feels great, Jordan Poyer knows that there's more for the taking.

"It'd be better to win the AFC East next week at home in front of Bills Mafia, I'll tell you that," Poyer said. "Obviously, a great accomplishment, but like I said earlier, the job's not finished. We got an important game next week. Jets coming here. And what a great opportunity for us to go out there and win the AFC East at home in front of our fans."

The Bills clinched a playoff spot with a 29-15 win over Atlanta.

Josh Allen feels a little different about second straight no punt game

It's a major accomplishment for an offense to not use their punter in a game – most of the time. The Bills didn't punt in their second consecutive game today, becoming the first team since the 2004 Steelers to accomplish that feat. The biggest difference from last week to this week is that on Sunday, three of the Bills' offensive drives ended with an interception. It's the second time in his career that Allen threw three picks, but the Bills still found a way to win the game. Down the stretch, Allen knows he has to put an emphasis on protecting the ball. 

"Well, I wish he would have punted three times tonight, or at least been on the field three times," Allen stated. "Obviously, we want to end every drive in a punt, or a field goal or a kick, whatever it is, just making sure that we're holding onto the football. It's a cool stat, but this one feels a lot different than last week given the turnovers. So again, we're ok with him being out on the field as long as it results in no interceptions and no fumbles. That's what we've got to continue to do moving forward."

Greg Rousseau explains what his first season in the NFL has been like

Rookie Greg Rousseau has had an up and down rookie season with many learning opportunities along the way. Rousseau recorded the first strip-sack of his career against the Falcons, which is the fourth sack of his young career. He becomes the ninth Bills rookie since 1982 with at least 4.0 sacks in a season. It's his first sack since Week 5 and even though sacks haven't come in bunches for him, Rousseau knows he's improving as a player each week. 

"It's tough," Rousseau said. "But every week has its own challenges, whether it's injuries. It's a lot of stuff that goes into it, the preparation. I'd say the biggest thing though is just not getting too high or too low. Having a bad game, it's not always all about sacks. It's about winning games. When it comes to stuff like that, I just try to go day by day, never get too high never get too low. I try not to ride the roller coaster. Coach McDermott is always preaching don't ride the roller coaster, just stay who you are, keep your routine the same, keep on working, keep on pushing and good stuff will happen. That's the mindset I try to bring week in and week out, whether I'm doing good, bad, in between, whatever it is."

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