Why the AFC East-clinching win at home was special for Bills players and coaches

Bills fans celebrate. Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Highmark Stadium, January 9, 2022. Photo by Bill Wippert

The Bills win the division at home for the first time since 1995

With the win over the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills are back-to-back AFC East champions. The team is 11-1 in the AFC East over the past two seasons. Buffalo has won the division in consecutive seasons for the third time in franchise history and the first time since 1988-1991. Since the Bills clinched the division in 2020, on the road in Denver, this marked the first time the Bills won the AFC East at home since December 17, 1995. 

The Bills players and coaches understand what this team means to the fans so clinching the division at home made it all that more special. 

"Listen, to play here, it wasn't even packed out there but if you could feel the crowd," McDermott said. "Playing at home, playing in Western New York, especially late in the year, it's been a long time since these fans, because of the situation last year, since the fans have been able to watch a home playoff game and in full capacity. So, listen we love playing in front of our fans, and it's a special place to play. To me, it's the best place in the NFL, and we look forward to next weekend."

Even though the offense struggled at times, the Bills pulled through and found a way to answer the call and beat the Jets. Josh Allen finished the game 24-45 for 239 yards with two passing touchdowns along with five rushes for 63 yards on the ground. After the game, Allen circled the field, high-fived with the fans, and soaked in the moment. With all that the fans give during the game, Allen was glad to be able to give something back along with the win. 

"Especially given last year with not too many people in the stands and really only for the playoffs, to do that and to feel the energy from the crowd," Allen said. "I know that [winning the division] hasn't been done here in a long time. So, to go out there and do that and just get to experience that with them, that's something I'll remember for a while.

It's a family affair with the Bills' defensive backs

Usually, after each game, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer come up to the podium together to answer questions from the media, but Sunday night was different. 

"We got all five," Poyer said as he walked into the media room. 

All five of the Bills' defensive backs came into the room and Hyde brought in Tre'Davious White's jersey and laid it on the podium. 

The Bills' defensive backs unit is one of the most close-knit groups on the team, and they wanted to make sure everyone got the attention they deserved. 

"I think it just shows just love that we have for each other," Poyer said. "This is the closest group; like these are my best friends right here. I grind out for these guys on and off the field any day of the week and even 27 right here. So, it just goes to show, Micah and I've been here five years, Levi, four, Taron, four, and Dane, two. We've just been putting the work in ever since we stepped foot in this building. So, it's extremely special to win this thing at home, win the AFC East at home, and we definitely wish 27 was here. But we know he's going to bounce back."

The Bills defense finished No. 1 in numerous statistical categories, including overall defense, pass defense, and scoring defense. Achieving that feat with White going down partway through the season is a major accomplishment for this team. One of the biggest players to step up for the Bills is second-year corner, Dane Jackson. Jackson has 37 tackles, and six passes defensed and has done well filling into the big shoes that White left behind. 

"I just got to give big credit to these guys," Jackson said. "I mean, they have full confidence in me. All year, even when I come in and get reps in practice, they lift me up. They make sure I'm locked in and tell me what's coming and all that type of stuff. These guys, these vet guys, they've been doing it for a long time, and I'm just happy I could come in and contribute with them."

Motor gets into gear

Over the past few weeks, Devin Singletary has kicked it into high gear and has made a difference for this Bills offense. He has had double-digit carries and at least one touchdown in the past four weeks. He is the first Bill with a rushing score in four straight games since Fred Jackson in 2011 and the first to have consecutive multi-TD games since Fred Jackson in 2010.

This season, Singletary finished the regular season with 188 rushes for 870 yards (4.6 YPC) and seven rushing touchdowns – all career highs. For weeks, Allen has complemented Singletary's tough running style and that he always finds a way to be around the football. As the Bills head into the playoffs a strong running game will be crucial. Bills' left tackle Dion Dawkins is confident they will be able to lean on him down the stretch. 

"It just means that Motor's engine is started," Dawkins said, "Literally that. Motor has started his engine. Motor is a younger guy trying to find his overall rhythm, and the fact that he's found it – I think there's still way more – and the fact that he's found a certain kick, just puts his best version of Motor in front of him. And helps us. Anytime that a kid can turn it on and do what he honestly does, shoot, it's special."