Josh Allen starred on the postseason stage with a mature performance as the Buffalo Bills survived a late fightback to beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 and clinch their first playoff victory since 1995 on Wild Card weekend.
The Colts had threatened to overturn a 14-point deficit when they took over with 2.30 to play in the fourth quarter after Allen had been sacked for a loss of 14 amid his efforts to extend the play. Philip Rivers found Zach Pascal to convert on fourth-and-10 after surviving a fumble call, however was unable to get the team in field-goal range in the final seconds.
Buffalo leaned the game in their favour just before half-time when Allen bundled into the end zone to punish the Colts after they had been stuffed at the goalline three times with a chance to make it a 10-point game. A slow start after the break also saw Indianapolis miss a field goal at the end of a 14-play march downfield during which they had converted four third-downs.
In the end it was Allen’s decision-making from the pocket along with his production on the run that prevailed, while the Colts were left to rue a series of missed opportunities.
- Bills passing: Josh Allen, 26/35, 324 yards, 2 TDs
- Rushing leader: Josh Allen, 11 carries, 54 yards, 1 TD
- Receiving leader: Stefon Diggs, six catches, 128 yards, 1 TD
Rodrigo Blankenship kicked the Colts ahead with a 30-yard field goal after Rivers had connected with Michael Pittman Jr for 22 yards with a beautifully-weighted pass over Tre’Davious White in an early sign of Frank Reich’s efforts to stretch the Bills defense.
Allen replied with a three-yard shot put touchdown pass to Dawson Knox after absorbing pressure in what had initially looked like a quarterback design run. He had settled any lingering playoff nerves earlier in the drive by picking out Stefon Diggs for a gain of 37.
Micah Hyde produced outstanding coverage to break up a pass intended for T.Y. Hilton for a would-be first-and-goal, before the Colts rewarded a strong hold on defense with a one-yard touchdown run from Taylor after Pittman’s pickup of 32 at the Bills’ 11.
- Colts passing: Philip Rivers, 27/46, 309 yards, 2 TDs
- Rushing leader: Jonathan Taylor, 21 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD
- Receiving leader: Michael Pittman Jr., five catches, 90 yards
The Colts were unable to extend their lead on fourth-and-goal when Rivers’ pass brushed the finger-tips of a diving Pittman Jr in the end zone, the latter having launched the series with a 31-yard catch-and-run on a receiver screen.
Allen’s five-yard touchdown run then capped an eventful drive late in the half which had seen a tight call go in the Bills’ favour when Gabriel Davis was just ruled in-bounds on a 19-yard catch, before the Colts give up an amateurish offside penalty on fourth-and-three and an Isaiah Rodgers interception was scratched off.
Tyler Bass kicked a 46-yard field goal to add to Buffalo’s lead early in the second half, in reply to which the Colts saw a 14-play drive stall on a wayward throw from Rivers to Pittman before ending in a missed 33-yard field goal from Blankenship.
The frustration continued for them when Allen cashed in a 35-yard scoring strike to Diggs, who finished with six catches for 128 yards and one touchdown, after Indianapolis lost a timeout for an unsuccessful challenge on what they thought had been a Zack Moss fumble.
Rivers hit back immediately with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pascal, only for Taylor to be stuffed on the two-point conversion attempt.
Bass booted a 54-yard field goal to stretch the Bills’ lead by three, but it wasn’t over yet as Rivers tossed a 27-yard score to Jack Doyle and then went back to his tight end to convert the two-point attempt.
Offensive tackle Daryl Williams rescued the Bills when he recovered Allen’s fumble on a sack that left Buffalo facing third-and-33 as they were forced to punt with 2.37 to play. Despite allowing a conversion on fourth-and-10, Sean McDermott’s men were able to keep the Colts out of field-goal range as Rivers failed to find a team-mate on his last-gasp Hail Mary attempt.
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