Buffalo Bills Wild Card Game – 4 Takeaways from a Decisive Win

Don’t look now (totally kidding, you should look) but the Buffalo Bills are putting together the type of run that wins championships. They’ve been winning ugly as of late, but on a snowy afternoon in Orchard Park, they won and looked good in the process. They looked like what they should be capable of, and it should cause great worry for the remaining teams in the AFC. Here are four takeaways from a statement wildcard win for the Buffalo Bills.

Takeaways from the Bills Decisive Wild Card Win

My Compliments to the Complimentary Crew

You know the big names in Buffalo: Allen, Diggs, Cook. On defense, it’s guys like Hyde, Poyer, and Miller. Monday’s game was all about the complimentary players stepping up and stepping out. The tight end tandem of Knox and Kincaid finally became what the offensive coaches dreamed about since about five minutes after Kincaid was drafted in April. Khalil Shakir has leveled up from ‘slot guy’ to ‘shifty genius’. Even Deonte Harty made a tough catch to keep a drive going. When Josh Allen can trust anyone, it’s scary for the opponents and a dream come true for #17.

On the defensive side of the ball, a new round of injuries allowed some lesser-known players to make their mark. AJ Klein, a guy who was on the practice squad at different points in the season, played like a starter and brought energy and heart. Kaiir Elam, considered by many as a first-round bust, atoned for a penalty deep in Bills territory by scooping up an interception a few plays later, stopping a Steelers drive. You need your big dogs to bark loudly, but if the whole pack is noisy with confidence, then you make it hard for the opposing team to figure out who to focus on.

The Bills Have Legs and They Know How To Use Them

James Cook didn’t score a touchdown, but he still may have been the most valuable offensive player for Buffalo. His ability to gain four-plus yards on running plays throughout the night softened up the Pittsburg defense and made the passing game smoother, and helped wear down the Steelers players. Sprinkle in a few runs by Josh Allen, including his ‘The Dude’ touchdown run of 52 yards, and the Bills used a balanced attack to simply dominate the game.

Add in the versatile Ty Johnson who had a few tough runs of his own, and the Bills run game is starting to establish itself as a big if not a bigger problem than the gunslinging passing of Josh Allen. In both this playoff matchup as well as the winner-take-all matchup with the Dolphins last week, the run game also served as a clock-eating machine, allowing Buffalo to just grind out a lead and decimate the time remaining in the game. If Buffalo gets a lead, they’ve become a pit bull that latches on a doesn’t let go.

Injuries are making it hard to keep up with the Next Man Up Philosophy

The way that the Buffalo Bills have been able to endure the rash of injuries and still put a nasty defense on the field is beyond admirable, it’s astounding. Guys are stepping in and producing at a high level. While that is encouraging for Bills Mafia, the continual scene of players leaving the field with the assistance of a cart is a not-so-subtle reminder that the defense is a mixture of the walking wounded and ‘deep into the depth chart’ group at this point.

There is a breaking point for all teams when they just run out of capable players to put on the field. It seems like Buffalo should be past that point by now, and yet they continue to be able to bring pressure, stop the run (Najee Harris had just 37 yards), and defend the pass with guys that even the most diehard fan doesn’t know. It truly speaks to the culture of the team and the faith that the coaches put in every man that puts on the jersey. The coaches demand the same level of performance from the guy 3rd on the list as they do the marquee star. That mentality will be essential and may be the edge the Bills need to overcome the mounting list of MIA defensive players.

The Bills have graduated from ‘Trendy Pick’ to ‘Team of Destiny’

Almost no one, including a vast majority of honest Bills Mafia fans, would have been bold enough to claim that they knew the Bills would be where they are today, #2 seed in the playoffs, AFC East champs. After the loss to the Eagles that left Buffalo with a 6-6 record, most fans and pundits alike were unsure if the Bills would make the playoffs at all, or if the team could overcome their self-inflicted struggles. The defense was already down multiple starters and stars, the offense was sputtering and stuck.

Fast forward to January and an apocalyptic snowstorm that Buffalo just called ‘a normal weekend’, and the Bills are without a doubt the hottest team in the entire league. Six straight wins, four of them over playoff teams like Kansas City, Dallas, Miami, and now Pittsburg. An offense that is rolling and a defense that is stifling and opportunistic. The Bills look dangerous, but that’s not the worst part for the rest of the league. The Bills look determined.

They have become the irresistible force that is racing straight toward the immovable objects in their way. In case you don’t know the answer to the question, the immovable object gets dissolved by an irresistible force. It seems inevitable that the Buffalo Bills are headed for Las Vegas and their first Championship. Do you want to get in their way?

Main Image: Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

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