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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Ravens | Divisional Round

Taron Johnson (24) intercepts a pass from Lamar Jackson (8) for a 101 yard touchdown return. Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens, Divisional Playoff Game, January 16, 2021 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Sara Schmidle
Taron Johnson (24) intercepts a pass from Lamar Jackson (8) for a 101 yard touchdown return. Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens, Divisional Playoff Game, January 16, 2021 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Sara Schmidle

1. A play for the ages

It was looking like a drive that would potentially tie the score. Down 10-3, the Ravens were on the move on a third quarter drive that was chewing up yards and clock.

On the 15th play of the drive facing a 3rd-and-goal from the Bills' nine-yard line, Lamar Jackson threw a pass to the end zone intended for Mark Andrews. The problem was he never saw Taron Johnson.

"I'm just reading the eyes of the quarterback," said Johnson. "I have to see in that coverage and he took me to the backside and all I did was cheat. He didn't see me so the ball came to me. I took it away."

Buffalo's nickel corner stepped in front of the pass and thought for a second about kneeling for a touchback. But Taron Johnson quickly changed his mind and found daylight out his right and darted for the Bills sideline.

"That's exactly what I was thinking," said Johnson of initially thinking taking a knee. "I caught the ball and I kind of looked down. But then I looked up and I just saw a whole bunch of green grass to the right side of me. So I figured if I could race over there I didn't see nobody else beside me. If I got lead blockers, I knew Lamar is fast, but if I got lead blockers, I feel like I could take it."

Johnson found more green grass than Ravens players and it was quickly a foot race to the end zone. With Tre'Davious White as an escort, Johnson got the block he needed to keep Lamar Jackson at bay and covered the last 20 yards to the end zone to seal Buffalo's first Divisional Playoff victory since Jan. 2nd, 1994, a 29-23 win over the L.A. Raiders.

"I saw Lamar coming so I slowed down a little bit to let Tre' get in front of me just help me out," Johnson said.

The 101-yard interception return tied for the longest in postseason history (George Teague, 1993).

Even more impressive was the fact that it was the first ever red zone interception in Lamar Jackson's career.

For Johnson it was his second interception return for a touchdown this season, and second in prime time as he had a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 14 on Sunday Night Football.

But perhaps even bigger than that is the fact that the play will instantly rival some of the greatest playoff moments in Bills history.

"Just an unbelievable play," said Josh Allen. "That play is one that people are going to remember for a long time. It's one of those potential franchise-altering plays."

2. Diggs and Brown carry the passing game

On a night when Buffalo's offense was having trouble finding its rhythm, Allen was able to rely on a pair of veteran receivers to move the chains.

Leading receiver Stefon Diggs and John Brown were instrumental in making the Bills passing game functional on a night when yards were hard to come by.

Sixteen of Josh Allen's 23 completions in the game went to either Brown or Diggs, as the pair accounted for 168 of his 206 passing yards in a game where the offense struggled to finish drives with points.

For the first time this season, Buffalo's offense did not have at least 20 first downs in a game. They had just 17 total, but Brown and Diggs made receptions that accounted for more than half of them, converting nine. It was critical in at least keeping the offense on the field.

"Those are two guys who just consistently do their job," said Allen. "John working back to me to make a few key plays and using our scramble drills and doing his thing. It's going to take everybody moving forward and we understand that. We can't just rely on one guy to do their job, guys stepped up. Guys made plays for us. It's fun to have when you have all these playmakers that just constantly on their hands to make plays for us."

Diggs, who came up with his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game of the postseason, becoming the second Bills player to ever have back-to-back 100-yard receiving days in the same postseason joining Hall of Famer James Lofton.

The Bills top wideout also delivered the game's only offensive touchdown when he took a bubble screen in from three yards out. It made Diggs the first Bills player with a receiving touchdown in back-to-back playoff games since 1996, when Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas pulled it off.

"That's just what he does," said Allen. "He's special, but it wasn't anything special that we were calling. Just one on one. I trust my guy and he does an unbelievable job of getting separation. His balance and being able to get through a few tackles and get the ball north, those are huge, key plays for us. When we needed him the most he stepped up and it's just what he does."

3. Another electric atmosphere

The stadium was shaking before opening kickoff and the 6,700 faithful fans in attendance never let up. It prompted broadcaster Ross Tucker on the Westwood One radio network doing the game to say it was the loudest group of 6,700 people in the world. And he too was in attendance in Orchard Park the week prior for the Wild Card game.

Buffalo's limited capacity crowd was in a lather early as the team's hype video, produced by the team's in-house video team, had Bills fans going bananas prior to the opening kickoff.

"The place was jumping," said Dion Dawkins. "I'm talking about the whole stadium was VIP section! Everybody was out there doing their thing, doing their dance and stuff. But I'm telling you man, it's a special place. The Mafia comes out, they do what they do and they let their presence be felt."

"What a great environment," said head coach Sean McDermott. "I know all of our fans can't be in the building, but it was loud, again, for two weeks straight. Just a great experience, great atmosphere. Thanks and congrats to all the Bills fans out there."

During Taron Johnson's 101-yard interception return, the building was audibly shaking as the crowd reacted to the biggest play of the game.

"I honestly just hope everybody got home safe because I'm pretty sure everybody was turn't," said Dawkins. "I mean turn't the right way. We had no problems the fans came out and did exactly what they do and what they had been doing. And that's just doing their job. They've been doing their part. They let them in and they're here to show, and they're here to shine, and they've been doing it since play one, since warmups and we love them."

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