In a game that came down to the wire, the Bills were able to hold onto their 34-31 victory over the Miami Dolphins. With their Wild Card win, the Bills are advancing to the AFC Divisional Round next weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals or Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bills opened the game up with a 17-0 scoring run and dominated the first quarter, which featured back-to-back touchdowns from TE Dawson Knox and RB James Cook. But the script flipped in the second quarter in favor of the Dolphins who respond with three consecutive field goals and one touchdown to tie the game at 17.
The Bills had 33 seconds left in the first half to break the tie, and a 39-yard field goal from Tyler Bass did the trick to take the 20-17 lead with four seconds to spare.
The Dolphins took over the scoreboard for the first and only time early in the third quarter to go up 24-20 on a fumble-return TD. But the Bills offense responded with another round of back-to-back TDs this time from wide receivers Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis to close out the third quarter.
The Bills held a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter and the Dolphins were quick to cut that to a three-point lead. But a big fourth down defensive stop on a PBU from CB Kaiir Elam just before the two-minute warning of the second half put the Wild Card matchup to rest.
Since the calendar flipped to the postseason, QB Josh Allen has been a believer in "it's not how you win, it's if you win" which was the case on Sunday. Allen finished the game 23-39 for 352 passing yards, three touchdowns, three fumbles, and two interceptions. On just nine targets, WR Stefon Diggs tallied 114 receiving yards and WR Gabe Davis was just one yard behind him with 113 receiving yards.
S Dean Marlowe and CB Kaiir Elam each snagged an interception, and LB Matt Milano led the defense with two sacks and eight tackles.
Both teams had no luck on their opening drives, but Allen connected with Knox to get the Bills on the board first with a six-yard TD, the Bills' first postseason touchdown. After getting sacked by Miami's Jerome Baker, Allen bounced back with a 52-yard deep pass to Diggs to put the offense at Miami's six-yard line. In tight coverage, Allen threw a direct pass to Knox who grabbed it out of the air with one hand and pulled it in for the touchdown which gave the Bills a 7-0 lead.
To shut down Miami on their next drive, S Dean Marlowe intercepted QB Skylar Thompson and got a 10-yard gain on the play to give the Bills the ball back at Miami's 23. Cook was there to take advantage of the turnover in his NFL playoff debut. The running back's 12-yard TD run capped off a four-play drive and doubled the Bills' lead to 14-0 with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
What looked to be Knox's second TD of the day was overturned after the play was under review and it was ruled an incomplete catch. Allen was sacked on the following play which called for a 33-yard field goal from Bass to extend their lead to 17-0 with 12:46 left in the second quarter.
The Bills' defense forced Miami to kick a field goal on their next drive after All-Pro Matt Milano and DE Boogie Basham each sacked Thompson for a total loss of 16 yards. The 40-yard Dolphins FG brought the score to 17-3 with 7:34 left in the half.
That FG sparked a run for Miami on both sides of the ball. An Allen pass that was intended for WR John Brown was intercepted by Miami's Xavien Howard, which resulted in a 48-yard Dolphins FG. With just over a minute left in the half, Miami added another FG to the board and got the ball back shortly after that when Allen's pass intended for WR Cole Beasley bounced right into the hands of S Jevon Holland. Miami capitalized on the turnover and tied the game at 17 on a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion from WR Tyreek Hill.
With four seconds left in the first half, Bass regained the lead for the Bills on a 39-yard FG.
LB Tremaine Edmunds and the Bills defense shut down the Dolphins on the opening drive of the second half, forcing them to go three-and-out. The offense took the field to build on their three point-lead, but Allen was sacked and fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Dolphins. A scoop and score from Miami's Zach Sieler gave the Dolphins a 24-20 lead just over a minute into the third quarter.
Around halfway through the third quarter, it was Elam's turn for an interception which allowed the Bills to take over at Miami's 33. The Bills used Elam's interception to their advantage and got their three-point lead back on a 6-yard TD from Beasley with 5:18 left in the third.
Beasley continued to come up big for Buffalo when he converted a third-down play which set up Allen to find Davis on a 23-yard toe-tapping TD reception for the receiver. The Bills took on a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter of the game.
The scoring slowed down in the final 15 minutes and the Bills limited the Dolphins to a one-yard TD run, which wasn't enough for a comeback. A sack from DE Ed Oliver and a game-closing PBU from Elam on Miami's final play of the game sealed the 34-31 victory for the Bills.
More stats and Highlights to Know:
- QB Josh Allen is the fourth NFL QB, age 26 or younger, to tally at least 15 passing TDs in the playoffs joining Patrick Mahomes (28), Bernie Kosar (15), and Ben Roethlisberger (15).
- TE Dawson Knox has caught a TD in each of his last five games.
- S Dean Marlowe tallied an interception in his first career start in a playoff game.
- WR Stefon Diggs' 52-yard reception marks the second-longest in his playoff career, trailing his game-winning 61-yard TD vs. NO in 2018.
- RB James Cook is the first Bill since Darick Holmes and Tim Tindale to score a rushing TD in their playoff debut.
- Diggs tallied 96 receiving yards in the first quarter, marking the most by any player in the postseason since Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown recorded 117 in 2017.
- CB Kaiir Elam, playing in his first career playoff game recorded an INT.
- WR Cole Beasley snagged his first career playoff TD in his 12th career postseason game.
- With his second passing TD, Allen now has an NFL-record 11 consecutive games vs. Miami with 2+ passing TDs. Allen surpassed Miami QB Dan Marino's record of 10 games vs. the Jets.
- With his 23-yard TD, WR Gabe Davis is tied with James Lofton (6) for the second-most receiving touchdowns in team playoff history. Andre Reed (9) holds the franchise record.
- With 314 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, Allen joins QB Matt Ryan as the only players ever with at least 300 passing yards and three TD passes in three consecutive postseason games.
- Allen also joins HOF Kurt Warner as the only players to have 12+ passing touchdowns over a 3-game span since at least 1970.
- Today marks the QB's third career playoff game with 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, which is the most in Bills history.
- Diggs and Davis have both surpassed 100 receiving yards, marking the 3rd time in team playoff history the Bills have had two 100-yard receivers.
- Today's win marked Buffalo's fourth straight home playoff win, the second-longest streak in team history.
- Sean McDermott is the first head coach in Bills history to win his first 4 home playoff games, joining Marv Levy.