| January 16, 2022, 1:26 AM
January 16, 2022, 1:26 AM
WARNING: If you are a folding table in Upstate New York, flee the area if you can. It’s for your own good because after what Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills did to the New England Patriots on Saturday, it’s clear that Bills Mafia is on its way and eyeing a lengthy playoff run.
Allen put on a clinic, the Bills scored seven touchdowns on seven drives and a boisterous crowd in Orchard Park kept a high energy for all four quarters despite frigid temperatures at Highmark Stadium.
The Bills ranked first in point differential during the regular season with a plus-194 rating and stayed true to form by not taking their collective foot off the gas until backup QB Mitchell Trubisky came in to kneel it out after the two-minute warning.
When all was said and done, Buffalo racked up 482 yards of offence, didn’t turn the ball over, only committed three penalties and sent New England packing 47-17 in the first Patriots playoff game without Tom Brady since 1998.
The Bills entered the post-season as the AFC’s No. 3 seed but are the most well-rounded team in the AFC. Perhaps the only area of concern for the Bills was kicker Tyler Bass, who kept things interesting with some extra point drama. He missed a pair of converts and clanked one in off the post.
Allen became the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards and rush for more than 750 yards in the same season and his full skill set was on display for his third career playoff win.
The 25-year-old completed 12 of 16 pass attempts for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half. He followed that up with a perfect second half by going nine for nine with another 136 yards and three touchdowns, including one to offensive lineman Tommy Doyle.
It’s rare for teams to play each other three times in one season, let alone thrice in a span of less than six weeks but that’s how the Bills-Pats rivalry unfolded this season.
When they met at Highmark Stadium back on Dec. 6, the Patriots used a rush-heavy attack to overwhelm the Bills on a night where high winds significantly altered game script. New England chugged along for 222 ground yards and Mac Jones only attempted three passes in a 14-10 win.
On Saturday, Buffalo flipped the script by winning the rushing battle 174-89. Devin Singletary led the way with 81 yards and two TDs. Allen rarely avoids contact when he takes off with the ball and even the bitterly cold temperature didn’t alter his mindset as the pivot chipped in with 66 rushing yards, all but three of which were in the opening half.
DB WITH CATCH OF THE PLAYOFFS?
There were some terrific catches throughout the regular season and we’re bound to see plenty more in the playoffs.
Bills defensive back Micah Hyde took the early lead in the unofficial playoff catch of the year competition with this outstanding interception. Will we see a better one these playoffs?
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 16, 2022
CURSE-BREAKER BURROW IS BUILT DIFFERENT
Jon Kitna, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton. None of them could do it.
Joe Burrow did it.
Burrow became the first Cincinnati Bengals QB to win a playoff game since Boomer Esiason threw for 150 yards, two TDs and added another 57 yards and a third score with his legs back on Jan 6, 1991.
The 2020 first-overall pick looked poised in a 26-19 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals went four-for-four on first half drives, scoring two TDs and a pair of FGs before things tightened in the third and fourth quarter.
Whether it was putting the ball on a rope to C.J. Uzomah, slinging it to Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins or checking down to Joe Mixon, Burrow looked comfortable in an NFL playoff game. He has on-field maturity and flashes signs of the clutch gene even though he’s just in his second season.
Joe Burrow DIME
— PFF (@PFF) January 15, 2022
Cincinnati’s first post-season win in more than three decades was not without controversy. Burrow’s second-quarter TD toss to Boyd counted when it technically shouldn’t have.
Burrow scrambled to his right toward the sidelines in Las Vegas’s red zone, his feet inches from the white paint, and while the ball was in flight one official mistakenly blew a whistle just prior to the 10-yard completion.
The NFL rulebook section on dead ball scenarios (Rule 7, Section 2) states that “when an official sounds the whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately.”
“We confirmed with the referee and the crew that on that play — they got together and talked — they determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the receiver caught the ball,” NFL senior VP of officiating Walt Anderson said. “They did not feel that the whistle was blown before the receiver caught the ball.”
That seems to contradict the video evidence.
This controversy won’t entirely overshadow the Bengals win but it’s something fans won’t soon forget.
BISACCIA DESERVES PROPS, POSSIBLY A SECOND CHANCE
Saturday didn’t go their way but the Raiders’ season could’ve gone so much worse had it not been for interim head coach Rich Bisaccia.
The special teams coordinator was promoted to interim bench boss in early October after John Gruden resigned following two straight losses and an ongoing email scandal. That could’ve derailed the season but instead Bisaccia galvanized the Raiders to two straight wins and the team was 5-2 heading into their bye week.
Unfortunately, that’s when the team had to overcome a far more tragic off-field obstacle when WR Henry Ruggs was involved in a car collision that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old woman and Ruggs facing multiple charges.
Las Vegas went on a 1-5 slump after the Ruggs incident before winning four straight to close out the regular season and clinch a playoff spot.
Who knows what exactly Raiders management will look for in the off-season coaching search but Bisaccia deserves tons of credit for his role.
We know that if it were up to the players, coach Bisaccia will be back for training camp.