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Buffalo Bills claim the AFC East, and also some new records

Stefon Diggs taking over the entire Bills record book, Dalton Kincaid revamping the tight end position, Deonte Harty getting paid, and more

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills finished the 2023 regular season as the AFC East Division Champions for the fourth year in a row. It was no easy feat as they had fallen to 6-6 and trailed the Miami Dolphins by a full three points just five weeks ago. But the Bills weren’t going to be denied and clawed their way back to the top winning their last five games — the final of which was in Miami to rip the division crown away from the Dolphins and earn the two seed in the AFC as they enter the playoffs.

Along the way, the Bills — both collectively as a team as well as individual players — have been putting their names in the record books (or their jerseys in the Hall of Fame as is the case for quarterback Josh Allen). Here’s a look at what they did in the season finale.

Buffalo’s fourth straight AFC East Championship marks the third time in team history that they have accomplished the “four-peat.” The Bills won the AFC East from 1988-91 and from 1963-66. It’s also the second time that the team has made five straight postseason appearances, having done so for the six-year span of 1988-93.

Josh Allen completed 30-of-38 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns. While he had two interceptions as well, Allen posted a passer rating of 101.6 on the night. The Bills’ dual-threat quarterback added another 67 yards on the ground through 15 carries Sunday night, making it the ninth time in his career that he had reached 300-plus yards throwing and 50-plus yards rushing and establishing a new NFL record. The record had previously been held by Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young who had recorded eight such games.

Allen also became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 350 yards, run for over 65 yards, and complete at least 75% of his passes in a single regular-season game. He also extended his own NFL record for most consecutive games with two-plus passing touchdowns against a single opponent, as Sunday was the 13th straight game against the Dolphins in which Allen found the end zone more than once.

One of the most exciting plays of the game, and what has been said to be the defining moment, was when wide receiver Deonte Harty returned a fourth-quarter punt 96 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 14. The 96-yard return is the longest in team history with the previous record being held by defensive back Keith Moody who had a 91-yard punt return in 1977. In addition to tying the game and igniting the Bills, who would go on to take the lead just a few minutes later, Harty’s punt return earned him a $250,000 bonus. Harty had an incentive that would pay him the quarter-million dollars if he finished the season with an average of 10.5 yards per return. Entering Sunday night, the 26-year-old Harty was averaging just 9.1 yards per return; however, after his 96-yard run, he finished the season with a 12.3 yard average and a nice bonus.

Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid caught seven passes on Sunday, giving him a total of 73 receptions on the season. While the team’s 2023 first-round draft pick had already earned the honor of having the most passes caught by a Bills rookie all-time, having passed Sammy Watkins for that record last week, he now holds the record for most passes caught by a Buffalo Bills tight end in any one season. The previous record of 68 passes was set by Pete Metzelaars in 1993 — six years before Kincaid was even born.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs added another seven catches to his resume on Sunday night, giving him a total of 107 receptions for the season and moving him up in the record books — again. Diggs now holds all of the top four spots in seasons with the most receptions by a Buffalo Bill, bumping Eric Moulds down to fifth.

When talking about what has changed for the Buffalo Bills over the past season, one thing that can’t be underestimated is the play of the offensive line. Last season the line was peppered with injuries and linemen were rotating in and out of not just the starting lineup but also where they were lining up from week to week. This season, the starting line of Dion Dawkins, Connor McGovern, Mitch Morse, O’Cyrus Torrence, and Spencer Brown started all 17 games together. This marked the first time that Buffalo fielded the same starting offensive line every game since the 1989 season.