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Buffalo Bills 48, Denver Broncos 19: Rapid recap and notes

The Bills are AFC East champions!

The Buffalo Bills are ready for the playoffs—and they put the rest of the league on notice by dominating the Denver Broncos in a 48-19 win on Saturday. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs tore apart another vaunted defense, and the Bills made Drew Lock play like Sam Darnold all day long. The Bills took 14-0 and 21-7 leads in the first half, and had 20 unanswered points in the second half. Denver just couldn’t compete with Buffalo’s talent—not this year.

The score could’ve been even more one-sided in this one, but the Bills botched two trips to the goal line: one was a failed 4th-and-1 rushing attempt, and another saw two touchdowns nullified by penalty before the Bills ultimately settled for a field goal.

Let’s take another moment to marvel at Allen, the artisan of a gorgeous offensive performance. His early throws were a little off the mark, but Allen was still playing with a casual demeanor that said he couldn’t be bothered by anything Denver tried. He scored three touchdowns before halftime, added a fourth a little while later, and finished with nearly 400 all-purpose yards. Allen fumbled the ball once but never turned it over. It was the seventh time this year that Allen threw for 300 yards—tying Drew Bledsoe’s franchise record.

Benefiting from another hot passing day: Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Diggs had 11 catches for 147 yards, and Beasley had eight for 112 yards. The Broncos might’ve had a top-ten passing defense, but the Bills knocked it down anyway.

Drew Lock, coming off a four touchdown performance against the Panthers, crashed back to Earth against Buffalo. With 132 yards on 32 pass attempts, Lock threw for only 4.1 yards per attempt. He had a passing touchdown, but the Bills strip-sacked him and returned the fumble for a touchdown.

The game was out of hand before the fourth quarter. At that point, the teams were just playing out the string. The Bills advance to 11-3 and clinched the AFC East division crown for the first time since 1995—before Allen was born! With two games remaining, the Bills still have a playoff seed to play for. Next week: a battle with the New England Patriots.


Injury report

Multiple injuries piled up late in this game. We’ll know more about the severity on Monday, since the Bills started intentionally playing backups late in their win.

First the big ones:

  • Stefon Diggs, with a foot injury, was taken into the locker room on a cart in the closing minutes of the game. He put his cleats back on and walked around the sidelines, so he must’ve been alright.
  • Tre’Davious White (stinger) and Levi Wallace both went down with injuries early in the fourth quarter after the game was well out of hand.
  • Daryl Williams hurt his groin in the third quarter. Ty Nsekhe replaced him on the field for his first significant snaps of the season.

There are a few others to monitor from today:

  • Vernon Butler and A.J. Epenesa also left the game on the same play late in the fourth quarter. Butler later returned to the game.
  • Dawson Knox suffered a stinger in the first quarter, but was back into the game pretty quickly.
  • After delivering a long kickoff return in the third quarter, Andre Roberts left the game with a lower back injury. Micah Hyde took over as the punt returner.

Miscellaneous

  • Big shoutout to Stefon Diggs, who broke the franchise record for receptions in a season with Buffalo’s first offensive play today.
  • Diggs, who had another monster day of receiving, is right on the verge of owning the single season receiving record too. Eric Moulds has 1,368 yards, and Diggs finished today with 1,314.
  • Diggs also leads the NFL in receiving—for one day at least. Travis Kelce and DK Metcalf can pass him again when they play this week.
  • Shoutout also goes to Jake Kumerow, who had his first Bills catch today—and it was a touchdown, too!
  • With Kumerow’s touchdown, the Bills have now had 13 players catch a touchdown pass this season. That ties the NFL record!
  • It took 46 games between defensive touchdowns before last week’s pick-six. The next defensive TD took a single week. Tre’Davious White forced the fumble, and Jerry Hughes scrambled with it into the end zone.
  • For the second consecutive week, the Bills dominated the third quarter. They outscored the Broncos 17-0 and controlled the ball for 10:56 of the 15-minute period.
  • Josh Allen officially crossed the 4,000 yard threshold as a passer today. With exactly 4,000 yards on the season, he’s 359 yards behind Drew Bledsoe for the franchise passing yard record, with two games remaining.
  • Also on record watch, Allen’s two passing touchdowns gives him 30 on the year. He needs three more passing touchdowns to tie Jim Kelly’s record, or four to break the record.
  • With a 114.5 passer rating tonight, Allen’s still on pace to set the franchise record for passer rating in a season.
  • With 70 percent of his passes completed tonight, Allen again kept pace on the franchise record for completion percentage in a season.
  • Devin Singletary has to be frustrated with becoming an afterthought in this offense—Zack Moss is the ground-and-pound closer, and the passing game is the heart of the game plan. So he had to feel good about scoring a breakaway 51-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter today. Probably got chewed out by the coaches, though, who would’ve wanted him to go down at the one-yard line.
  • With 112 receiving yards tonight, Cole Beasley now has 950 yards this year. The Bills are on the verge of having two 1,000-yard receivers.
  • The only other time the Bills had two receivers hit 1,000 yards in a season? 2002, with Eric Moulds and Peerless Price.
  • A few defenders with quiet statistics saw a burst of productivity today. Mario Addison and Ed Oliver both sacked the QB—Addison’s first sack since November 8, and Oliver’s first since November 29.