Stefon Diggs got off to a red-hot start in Sunday's Wild Card victory over Miami. After the team's first three scoring drives, Diggs had six receptions for 110 yards. From that point on however, the Dolphins secondary was determined to shut down any opportunities for the Bills alpha receiver going forward.
As a result, Diggs made just one more catch over the final three quarters for four yards.
Production in the passing game would rest on the remainder of the receiving corps and collectively they delivered on Sunday.
Gabe Davis put up his first 100-yard receiving day since Week 5 with 113 yards on six receptions including a 23-yard touchdown catch to push Buffalo's lead up to 10 late in the third quarter (34-24).
Khalil Shakir chipped in with three receptions for 51 with a supremely important 3rd-and-1 contortion catch at midfield for 31 yards.
And veteran Cole Beasley had a key 29-yard catch and run followed later by his first playoff touchdown when Josh Allen hit him quickly for a six-yard touchdown reception to put Buffalo back in front for good midway through the third quarter (27-24).
"Great job by them," said head coach Sean McDermott of his receiving corps. "Cole came back, a lot of them came back after some early plays, I would say that didn't go their way and they hit the reset button. Whether it was Cole, Shakir, they all contributed down the stretch, which was what we needed. That's hard to do, just in terms of the reset button, but our guys are mentally tough. They've shown that, and when the game doesn't start the way you want it to in terms of an individual player in the first quarter, how do you get yourself back (on track), and they did that."
For Davis, it seemed like he picked up right where he left off in the playoffs. Sunday wasn't a four-touchdown performance, but he began with a diving catch near midfield early in the game that was initially ruled an incompletion and reversed on review. Josh Allen would target Davis eight more times in the game.
"He works his tail off," said Josh Allen of Davis. "In practice, he works extremely hard. He's been so reliable for us and again, just giving him some opportunities to make some plays, and he came up with some big ones."
Davis' touchdown catch beat a cover-two look from Miami, which left the Bills' third-year receiver in a favorable matchup.
"I knew I was going to be one-on-one with the safety," Davis said. "I just had to beat him to the back corner. It was kind of a tightrope. I didn't get on 21's toes all the way. I kind of cut it a little early and trusted in Josh to put the ball right where it needed to be."
For Beasley, it was the most extensive playing time he's seen since returning to the Bills, initially as a member of the team's practice squad. After being a practice squad elevation down the stretch in the regular season, Beasley was added to the 53-man roster following Isaiah McKenzie's hamstring injury midweek. And the veteran receiver delivered a pair of key plays.
"Yeah, it's about time, it only took me 11 years," said Beasley of his first playoff touchdown. "I'm just happy it could come in today's game, and I could contribute."
"It was pretty fun to get the ball back to him obviously, bouncing around, bringing him back and just being able to run some of our old stuff," said Allen of Beasley. "He remembers it and is able to run it and execute it so it's good to have vets like that."
Dawson Knox, who scored his fifth touchdown in five games, and fellow tight end Quintin Morris, who had an inspired 12-yard catch and run through a pair of defenders for a first down made key contributions as well.
All of it should translate into making Buffalo's passing game more difficult to defend going forward, knowing the depth in the receiving corps can produce if an opposing defense decides they don't want to let Stefon Diggs beat them.
"That's what we have to do," said Beasley. "We've got to be there for him, just give Josh easy throws. They're going to try to take Stef away. He's a big-time player. He's our number one guy. If you're going to give him one-on-one coverage, he's going to eat you alive. So when it's our chance to take advantage, we've got to do so."