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Takeaways: Buffalo Bills survive Indianapolis Colts to advance to divisional playoffs

The Buffalo Bills squeaked out a victory over the Indianapolis Colts for the first playoff win since 1995. It wasn’t easy, and the Colts kept it a game until the final snap, but Buffalo will host another playoff game a week from now.

here are my takeaways from the game...


That was a fumble

I mean, you guys know. Zach Pascal caught a 17-yard pass, hit the ground, then stood up when Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer ripped the ball away and the Bills recovered. He was ruled down by contact and the Colts lined up for another play. Head coach Sean McDermott smartly called a timeout to give the replay official time to buzz the game official (though apparently he buzzed the game official in time because McD got his timeout back). Everyone I saw on Twitter thought it was a fumble with a clear recovery by the Bills; NFL employees, ESPN analysts, everyone. Welp. They said the play on the field stands and the Colts had a last gasp. Ultimately, the Bills were able to force three straight incompletions to end the game.

Starting field position a problem

The Bills had a hard time getting the offense going in the first half and a big part of that was terrible starting field position. In the first half, Buffalo’s AVERAGE drive start was inside their own ten while the Colts started out at the 35 (on average). The first half saw starts at the 3, 15, 11, 6, and 4. The second half wasn’t very good, but light years ahead of the first half with starts at the 28, 23, 25, and 24.

Defense couldn’t stop Frank Reich

The only stop the Bills had in the first half was a drop in the end zone off the fingertips of the receiver. Every single drive by the Colts (except the kneel down to end the first half) got into Buffalo territory. Indianapolis outgained the Bills 472 to 397 and held the ball for more than 34 minutes. Third-down conversions were 9-of-17 for the Colts, and they stayed on the field over and over again.

Grit

The Bills showed they deserve to be in the playoffs today. They beat a team with a seasoned NFL QB and a seasoned NFL playcaller and head coach. They didn’t get a ton of breaks. They didn’t get a lot of opportunities. They just did ENOUGH. They only had four drives in the second half and scored on three of them to secure the victory.

Josh Allen’s growth

Josh Allen was much better today than last year in the postseason and looked like he had calmed down. He was patient, he found receivers down the field, he mostly avoided pressure. In short, he got the monkey off his back from the Houston Texans loss. He needs to buy Daryl Williams a steak dinner and a new car or something for recovering that late-game fumble, but Allen went 26-of-35 for 324 yards and 2 TDs through the air and led the team in rushing, carrying it 11 times for 54 yards and another score. When your QB adds 376 yards and three TDs, you’re probably gonna be ok.