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Stefon Diggs, Dalton Kincaid among Buffalo Bills to claim new records in Week 17

It was another record-setting day for several Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots on New Year’s Eve to set up the perfect ending for the most imperfect regular season — a showdown in South Beach with the Miami Dolphins for the AFC East division title next week. While their Week 17 win wasn’t pretty by any means — plenty of fireworks on defense that fizzled out once the offense took the field — there were still some major milestones reached by Bills’ players in all three phases of the game.

To start with, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who has by all accounts has struggled to put up his customary big numbers lately, showed his consistency is what makes him so valuable to Buffalo’s offense. With four catches on Sunday, Diggs reached 100 receptions for the sixth straight year — four of those coming as a member of the Buffalo Bills. It’s the first time in history that any Bills receiver has had four consecutive 100-reception seasons. The four receptions on Sunday also put Diggs at 803 total catches over his nine-year career, and at 30 years old (plus 32 days), Diggs became the youngest player in NFL history to tally 800 receptions in a career. If Diggs can have a game similar to the ones he was having in the first seven weeks of the season, he could hit another milestone this coming Sunday — with 92 yards, Buffalo’s WR1 would go over 10,000 yards in his career.

Diggs wasn’t the only Bills receiver writing his name in history books on Sunday. With four catches, tight end Dalton Kincaid set the Bills’ franchise record for receptions by a rookie. Kincaid’s four receptions put him at a total of 66 catches this season. The record was previously held by wide receiver Sammy Watkins who had 65 receptions in his rookie campaign back in 2014. With sitting out one game (Week 6 against the New York Giants) and having no receptions in Buffalo’s Week 15 ground-game dominance of the Dallas Cowboys, Kincaid will need to get involved quickly in Buffalo’s final game of the 2023 season. If he can snag four more passes in Week 18, Kincaid will set the Bills’ all-time reception record for catches by a tight end in a single season (currently held by Pete Metzelaars).

Quarterback Josh Allen failed to extend his streak of games with a passing touchdown on Sunday, but that didn’t keep him from rewriting the history books. Allen rushed for two touchdowns in Buffalo’s 27-21 victory over the Patriots. In doing so, he became the first Bills quarterback to have two rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games (Allen found the end zone three times — twice on the ground — last week in Los Angeles). While team records are great — and with one rushing touchdown next Sunday in Miami, Allen could tie O.J. Simpson for the Bills’ all-time season record at 16 — QB17 is busy rewriting the league history books too. On Sunday, Allen became just the fourth NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl Era to record a rushing touchdown in five consecutive games, and his 15 rushing touchdowns this year put him in a tie with Jalen Hurts for most all-time by a quarterback in a single season.

Despite the history making that the offense accomplished on Sunday, it was the defense that stole the show and won the game for the Bills. To get the game started, Buffalo tallied three takeaways in the first quarter — making them the first team to do so since 2020. The first of those takeaways belonged to defensive tackle Ed Oliver who recorded the first interception of his NFL career — in fact, it was the first interception Oliver had recorded since his senior year in high school in 2015. Oliver became the first Bills defensive tackle to record an interception since 2019 when Star Lotulelei snagged a pass from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Thanksgiving Day. Oliver also recorded another sack, bringing his total for the season to a career high 9.5 and securing his spot as the Bills defender with the most sacks since 2019 (his first season in the league) with a total of 24.

Oliver got the interception game going — thanks to a deflected pass by cornerback Rasul Douglas, Douglas himself wasn’t being left out on Sunday. The cornerback, who joined the Bills at the trade deadline this season, snagged two passes himself — returning one for a touchdown. Douglas also defended three passes in his dominant performance on Sunday. In eight games with the Buffalo Bills, Douglas has recorded six takeaways — four of them by way of interception.

Linebacker Terrel Bernard wasn’t going to be left out of the defensive party on Sunday. While it was cornerback Christian Benford who tore the ball from tight end Pharaoh Brown’s arms and got credit for a forced fumble and recovery, Bernard was making things very difficult for New England’s quarterback Bailey Zappe. Bernard recorded two more sacks Sunday, raiding his season total to 6.5 — the most by a Bills linebacker since Lorenzo Alexander, who happened to be the Bills’ Legend of the Game on Sunday, had the same number back in 2018. Bernard’s efforts made him the first player since 1991 (and just the fourth since 1982) to have six-plus sacks, three-plus interceptions, and three-plus fumble recoveries in a season.

Special teams play in Buffalo has been shaky at best, and they started the game by allowing the Patriots to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Not great, but they settled down after that and punter Sam Martin launched all six of his punts, pinning the Patriots inside their own 20 every time — something that had never done in the NFL before Sunday.

Kicker Tyler Bass, who has missed a few kicks this season (six field goals and two extra points to be specific) and has Bills Mafia questioning his nickname of Bass-o-matic, was perfect on Sunday. Bass’s three extra points and two field goals gave him nine points on the day and moved him into fourth on the Bills’ all-time scoring list. The kicker’s 523 career points has him just past running back Thurman Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed who each scored 522 points in a Bills’ uniform.

Buffalo’s win over the Patriots extended the team’s regular-season winning streak in the months of December and January to 13 and gave them an overall record of 18-2 in the final month of play since the 2020 season. More importantly, it put the Bills’ record at 10-6 heading into the final week of the season. The win means that Buffalo will have its fifth straight season with double digit wins. That’s the longest streak in team history. Not too bad for a team that was sitting at 6-6 and facing the real possibility of having a losing season on the books just four weeks ago.