The Buffalo Bills clinched their third straight playoff berth with a 29-15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. That marks just the third time in franchise history that Buffalo has qualified for the playoff tournament in more than two consecutive seasons. The Bills qualified for the AFL playoffs each year from 1963-1966, sandwiching two league titles in that run. The Bills also qualified for the playoffs for six straight seasons with Jim Kelly at the helm, playing postseason football in each season from 1988-1993.
It wasn’t a pretty victory, but an ugly win is a win nonetheless, so Buffalo won’t complain about coming out on top against Atlanta. The Bills officially eliminated the Falcons from playoff contention with the win.
Nearly all of our players to watch had a hand in some big moments of the game—for better or worse. Here’s how our players to watch performed this past weekend.
WR Cole Beasley
None of Buffalo’s wideouts made much noise on a day where quarterback Josh Allen was consistently off target throwing the football, but Beasley received a loud ovation upon catching the first completed pass of the game in the first quarter. He was also the intended target on Allen’s second interception, a brutal overthrow on a seam route that looked ugly the second it left his hand. Beasley was bumped eight yards down the field, so it’s possible that he expected a flag, but he didn’t have much of a chance to break up the interception. Beasley was targeted six times, second only to Stefon Diggs for Buffalo, but he only caught two of those six targets for 22 yards.
G Jon Feliciano
Feliciano sat behind Ryan Bates, who started at left guard once again in a game where the Bills were able to rush for 100 yards. When Bates was injured late in the contest, Feliciano came in for six offensive snaps. He was the “lucky” recipient of a signed jock strap courtesy of former teammate Lee Smith, at least. And he was able to roast his good friend via twitter, as well.
DT Ed Oliver
Big Ed had another big game this week, as he was a problem up the middle for the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan all day. Oliver has consistently played more snaps than any of Buffalo’s defensive linemen, though he was surpassed this week by teammate Harrison Phillips, who also had another great day at the office. Phillips played on 36 snaps while Oliver saw 32. Oliver had four tackles, one for a loss, a pass deflection, a quarterback hit, and a quarterback sack in the fourth quarter. He was also whistled for a roughing-the-passer penalty. Phillips contributed four tackles and a sack, as well, and he also recovered a fumble forced by Greg Rousseau in the first quarter. Since I’m rambling about Buffalo’s young defensive linemen now, it’s also worth noting that A.J. Epenesa made a nice play to notch a tackle for a loss in the run game, so perhaps those young players are turning the corner in the trenches at exactly the right time.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
The good: Buffalo’s middle linebacker led the team in tackles with seven. Most of Matt Ryan’s completions weren’t to the middle of the field, as the team was able to force him to throw outside more often than not. The bad? Well, Edmunds was caught in between on a big play at the end of the first half, as he had to commit to Ryan as a runner given that he was the only person within 15 yards of the slow-footed veteran. The problem was that Edmunds had to leave Mike Davis, and Ryan hit him for a big gainer rather than try to run. Edmunds also met Davis in the hole at the goal line, but Davis drove Edmunds back three yards and scored the touchdown. Essentially, it was a fairly typical day at the office for Edmunds, who is a player I really want to like, but his inconsistencies make it awfully hard sometimes.
S Micah Hyde
Hyde had a quiet day, but then again, so did Atlanta’s offense as a whole. He was on the wrong end of a wicked stiff-arm, but he managed five tackles and solid coverage in yet another excellent team effort defensively.