As a Florida native, I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen the Buffalo Bills take on the Miami Dolphins many times. This Sunday had a different feel to it than all the others.
When the final whistle blew and the Bills officially defeated the Dolphins, no Bills’ fans were celebrating. When passing each other in the concourses, everybody had their head buried in their phone, searching for updates on the Baltimore Ravens game. Walking down the stairs, my dad and I spotted a small bar in the concourse with a TV on and 10 or so Bills fans huddled around it. No more than two minutes after we got to the bar, there were easily 150 anxious Buffalo fans waiting for the Ravens game to resume following the two minute warning.
When 4th and 12 came, you could feel the air get sucked out of the area. A few salty Dolphins’ fans stuck around to cheer against the Bills. But with the miraculous flick of his wrist, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton found Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown, and the sea of blue and red lost it.
You’ve all seen the videos on Twitter. But being there was a different kind of experience. It was truly one of the most anxious, thrilling, terrifying, and joyful moments of my life.
Everybody was jumping and screaming in elation. The “Shout” song rang throughout the concourse of Hard Rock Stadium. I was nearly tackled by a man I never met, grown men were crying, people were hugging strangers, and you could feel the weight of those 17 years lift off the organization and the fan base.
The Buffalo Bills haven’t made the playoffs since I was five years old. After that Dalton touchdown pass, I could hug my dad knowing that for the first time ever, we would be able to talk together about our favorite team being in the playoffs.
Buffalo may be underdogs, but nobody thought they’d be where they are right now. Anything can happen in the NFL playoffs. Regardless of what happens next week, in Jacksonville or after that, I am glad I could share this historic moment with the man who taught me to love the Bills, and about 150 more of my closest family members, the Bills Mafia.