Welcome back to the top, Buffalo Bills.
Eleven. For 11 straight seasons, this was the story’s end for the New England Patriots.
Since the beginning of the century, the Patriots have claimed the AFC East title 17 times, with only two coming against them.
Streaks are always meant to be broken. On Saturday night, the Patriots’ dynasty took a hit towards the end.
Meet the 2020 AFC East champion Buffalo Bills. And this time, they’ll be looking to remain on top for the long haul.
It was clear from the first drive of the second half that Josh Allen would command perfection on the way to a 48-19 victory against the Denver Broncos. The third-year pro had been doubted since before he took his first snaps in college.
He was highly questioned for being considered a “franchise pick” after the Bills shocked the world and traded up for him seventh overall back in 2018. Add in two years of Twitter trolls and super scouts saying he wasn’t “the guy” to lead a team deep into the postseason.
Now, he takes the Bills back to the AFC East title for the first time since 1995, three months before he was even born.
Allen finished 28-of-40 with 359 passing yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the run game found their footing against a rather sluggish Broncos front seven to tack on 182 yards and three scores, two coming behind Allen’s legs.
Meanwhile, a Jerry Hughes fumble recovery returned for a touchdown all but sealed the team’s status as the second-best club in the AFC. All Allen had to do was keep drives alive and chew up the clock.
Signed, seal delivered, that’s Allen.
How dangerous are the Bills entering the final two weeks?
Drew Lock’s roller-coaster sophomore season shouldn’t disregard a job well done from Buffalo’s defense. This became the ninth-straight game Sean McDermott’s staff caused a turnover.
The secondary also held Lock and the passing attack to 132 yards on the night.
Buffalo won in all areas of the field to enter the postseason for the third time under the McDermott era. They clobbered on time of possession, gained more first downs (29:19) to keep the clock rolling and converted nearly 70 percent of all third down plays.
On top of that, Allen continued his budding relationship with Stefon Diggs, connecting for 11 catches and 147 yards. Diggs, who joined the team via trade this offseason, now leads the NFL in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,314).
Find the flaw in Buffalo’s scheme. On offense, the team has shown they can win on the ground after the first line of defense. Defensively, the return of Matt Milano has only enhanced the back seven in coverage with zone reads.
It all comes back to Allen, the quarterback that was “flaw” and “failed” after his rookie season. After connecting with Jake Kumerow for a 22-yard touchdown, the Bills quarterback had connected with his 13th receiver on the season.
Patience has been the word best used to describe Bills Mafia. They waited to return to the postseason. They waited for the right coach.
They were patient going through a conundrum of pocket-passers and signal-callers who were better suited riding the pine.
Two years ago, most had given up on Allen. Bills fans didn’t.
Now, here’s the one team that can dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs run at the postseason — well beyond the 2020 season.