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'We knew what was in front of us' | How Josh Allen and the Bills turned their season around and won the AFC East crown


All week leading up to the Bills' regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins, Josh Allen was asked if he would be watching the games around the league that had an impact on the Bills' playoff hopes should they lose Sunday night.

When he found out that the Tennessee Titans had knocked out the Jacksonville Jaguars, automatically securing a Wild Card berth for the Bills, Allen admitted that he felt a little weight fall off his shoulders.

"Honestly, it was a big relief," Allen said Sunday.

However, Tennessee's win ended up not affecting Buffalo's playoff situation in the slightest.

After a hard-fought four quarters in Miami, the Buffalo Bills have clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC, defeating the Dolphins 21-14 to secure their fourth consecutive division title. Allen threw for 359 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and added 67 yards on the ground.

While Buffalo wasted opportunities in the first half to run up the score on Miami, their offensive, defensive and special teams units rallied in the second half to complete a five-game winning streak that saw their playoff chances skyrocket from just 15 percent after their loss in Philadelphia.

The Bills defeated Miami 21-14 to claim their fourth consecutive AFC East title. Check out the best photos from inside the locker room and on the field at Hard Rock Stadium.

"We were 6-6. We knew what was in front of us, had a lot of internal talks, trusted the guys in this locker room," Allen said on the team's mentality following their Week 13 bye.

Throughout the game, even when he made critical mistakes, Allen led the offense by doing whatever it took to make big plays, embracing contact if it meant he could rush for extra yards and using his feet to give his receivers time to get open downfield. Head coach Sean McDermott said that he saw Allen's leadership flourish following the Bills' loss in Philadelphia.

"The messaging overall was 'we're close.' It was a play here and a play there, it was really just 'stick with it,'" McDermott said. "Had the players get away and get some rest and catch their breath a little bit, you know, we had been on the road, primetime games, we'd been to London, back, no bye until later and that was a hard stretch there just to keep your endurance. … And [the players] came back, led by Josh, and they were very intent on getting this thing done."

That intent was on full display Sunday night. Players who have not seen significant time on the field this season stepped up in major ways. Dane Jackson helped the Bills secondary hold the Dolphins offense to just 50 passing yards in the second half. Deonte Harty returned a punt 96 yards for a touchdown. Taylor Rapp made a game-clinching interception, his first of the season.

Despite winning the division, Allen was quick to say that the Bills' work was nowhere near complete. With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town next Sunday and a host of talented AFC foes waiting should the Bills win next week, Buffalo will have their hands full with preparing for a playoff run.

"At the end of the day, this is fun, this is cool and never say no to winning a division. But the only thing that it solidifies is a home game and one more game," Allen said. "So it doesn't mean anything if we go out there next week and don't do our job, so we got to find a way to put our best foot forward and go find a victory next week."

Through the midst of the up-and-down season, it seems that the Buffalo Bills never lost hope despite how bleak their season looked at times. For McDermott, the AFC East title is something to enjoy, but there is plenty of work to be done ahead of hosting the Steelers next Sunday.

"You've got to really enjoy the wins and then get back to work like we've got to do when we land," McDermott said.

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