For the first time since 1999, the Buffalo Bills punched a ticket to the playoffs on December 31, 2017. They had won their game over the Miami Dolphins and were scoreboard watching, needing the Cincinnati Bengals to knock off the Baltimore Ravens in a meaningless game for Cincy.
Traditionally, Buffalo doesn’t get the bounces for whatever reason. During a down year for the AFC, the Bills had a shot and most expected the Ravens to win and clinch their own spot.
The Bills had made it to the locker room to watch TVs. Spectators in Miami were in the concourse watching coverage with bated breath. Fans around Western New York and beyond were huddled around televisions. Then, an explosion.
On 4th and long, Andy Dalton found Tyler Boyd for not just a first down to keep hope alive, but a 49-yard touchdown to take the lead. The Bengals would hold on for the final seconds, sending the Bills to the playoffs but the celebration inside and outside the locker room was chronicled over and over.
So where were you?
I was at a New Year’s Eve party like many of you. The NFL had flexed the game to a late start time. I have kids, so we went to our New Year’s Eve party at about 6 Eastern, listening to Murph and Kelso on the radio. My wife had made fun of me earlier in the week, when I asked the hosts of our party if they were going to turn on the Bills game.
“I’m not going if they won’t have it on.”
The Bills’ playoff streak had lasted longer than my relationship with my wife, whom I met in the fall of 2000. She understood.
Luckily, the hosts obliged and turned on their TV for me (and pretty much only me). While the rest of the party-goers hung out in the kitchen and casually checked in on what was happening, I was on the couch watching first the Bills and then the Bengals.
On third down I stood up.
On fourth down, I was pacing.
Then I shed a few tears as I ran down the hallway.
My wife laughed at me.
I didn’t expect that. The Bills beating the Dolphins seemed like a foregone conclusion as the game went on. The improbability of what happened between the Bengals and Ravens was such a shift in win probability and mood, it was the opposite of a gut punch. It was an emotional reaction, but not the sinking feeling to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Bills players erupted in the locker room. The concourse in Miami shook with cheers. Western New York exploded in joy at the same moment.
Where were you? What’s your story? Tell us in the comments.