The AFC East Division title belongs to the Bills for the third straight season with their 35-13 victory over the Chicago Bears. While clinching the division is the next step towards achieving their final goal of playing football in February, there's still work left to be done as the pursuit to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC continues.
"It's the next progression in our goal, obviously playoffs, division title, and we know what the next one is," QB Josh Allen said. "So got a couple more games to put our best foot forward and just try to go execute to the best of our ability."
"I think in the past we've obviously seen what it's like to have to go on the road and win playoff games," safety Jordan Poyer added. "But it is important for us to get that home-field advantage, to get the crowd at home, the cold weather games. Not a lot of people want to come to Buffalo in late January, early February."
But the Bills' journey to get to this point in the season is one like any other.
Since Week 1, the team has been hit with waves of adversity between injuries up and down the roster and having to rearrange travel plans because of various weather conditions. But having overcome challenges a handful of times already this season, Allen acknowledged that these moments are chances for the team to learn and get better from.
"If everything's peachy and roses, sometimes you don't learn that way," Allen said. "So, to have some adversity hit again, earlier in the season. We're finding ways to win right now, and I think it's a microcosm of our season - all the weather, travel, all that stuff. So, things don't go your way, you got to just move on and focus on the next thing that you can control."
And their trip to Chicago to face the Bears, which started a day earlier than originally planned due to weather complications, is another instance where the resilience throughout the team and organization earned the team a win — their twelfth of the season.
"It just shows a lot of the mental toughness that this team has been able to deal with adversity," Poyer said. "It just shows that we've got a lot of great leaders on this team and a lot of young guys that just bought into everything that we do here. So, it's pretty special. We've got a lot of football left and we want to continue to get better."
But the adversity kept coming this holiday season for the Bills.
Check out the best locker room celebration reactions as the Bills produced their third consecutive AFC East title after a victory in Chicago.
Just as head coach Sean McDermott was heading into the locker room to celebrate the victory, he got word that the team would be spending Christmas Eve in Chicago because the blizzard back home in Buffalo forced the Buffalo airport to close. Even though the news was tough to hear, the head coach said the team will make the most of their time together before the weather allows them to fly back to their families.
"I think it personifies that resiliency, and now we got to stay here tonight," McDermott said. "No offense to Chicago, love Chicago, what a great town, but it's hard to be away from your family when you work so hard, and you only have so much time to be around them. But as I told the guys after the game, if I'm not with my family, and they're not with theirs, there's no other family I'd rather be with than them."
"Obviously, we wish we could be getting home tonight, obviously with Christmas tomorrow, but try to spend as much quality time with the guys as we can and try to take our minds off that I guess," Allen added. "We'll find ways to adjust and overcome that."
McDermott expressed that the team is grateful for their situation knowing it could be worse. From emergency care workers in Buffalo to members of the military serving overseas, the head coach is sending his thoughts and prayers to those who don't have the opportunity to be with their families this holiday season.
"Everyone's health and safety is of the utmost importance, whether it's us or people back home, No. 1," McDermott said. "There are a lot of military people who aren't able to come home at all right now, or people out there -- emergency workers. Yes, it's a shame we can't get home, but there are a lot of people who have got it a lot worse than we do out there, including some people back home right now."
The head coach has seen the city of good neighbors come together in the offseason when the East Side faced a tragedy and when a major snowstorm hit Buffalo just about a month ago. So as difficult as the situation in Buffalo is, McDermott believes it's only going to make the community stronger.
"I think we get a lot of the attention just because we're out there and we're in the public eye, but there are a lot of other people who are going through, just life," McDermott said. "Forget playing a sport, but just life. To get displaced and have to change schedules as a professional sports team is one thing, but when you're struggling just on the everyday life end of things, trying to make ends meet and how sometimes businesses are affected by these things. I think that's proper perspective right now, especially around Christmas time."
As of Saturday evening, the plan is to attempt to fly out of Chicago and into Rochester, NY on Sunday morning. The team will continue to monitor the situation while prioritizing the safety of everyone involved.
"It's making us spend more time together," DT Ed Oliver said. "We had to lean on each other more. When we went to go play in Detroit two times and both of those games were close, we were just scratching and clawing just to pull out a win. Under any circumstance, we're just pulling out wins. That just brings everybody closer together."