Bills’ defense stands strong on final drive

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills’ Matt Milano (58) and Josh Norman (29) and Micah Hyde (23) celebrate after an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won the game 27-24. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The most fourth-quarter points given up in eight games, a would-be fumble that should’ve ended the game was not over turned, and a Hail Mary situation that had many holding their collective breath. Through it all, the Bills defense held tough in the midst of major adversity, helping the team secure its first playoff win in 25 years.

“This is awesome for the bills organization, for the city,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “Just to be able to play a home game and get a victory, since 2017 we’ve been working at this man for a day like today to come out on top. We want to keep going. We’re more hungry.”

Fans have seen the “bend, but don’t break“ style of defense throughout the year. It was even more evident Saturday. Buffalo’s defense gave up 472 total yards and also allowed 14 points in the final quarter, the most since their Week 9 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, but they held tight when needed.

“This is a mature football team,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “Been through a lot of situations. They’ve been through almost every type of situation football you can be in.“

On the final drive of the game, the defense came through in several ways. With 55 seconds left, on 3rd and 10 at their own 37, Colts quarterback Philip Rivers looked for T.Y. Hilton, but the pass was broken up by Tre’Davious White, forcing a 4th and 10.

On the next play, Rivers completed a pass to Zach Pascal, but it appeared Pascal fumbled the ball that the Bills recovered, that would have ended the game. The referees reviewed the play, and ruled that Pascal was down by contact, and the Colts kept the ball.

“It looked like his knee was off the ground, [Poyer] didn’t touch him yet, but that’s the official’s call so we’ve got to roll with it and play it out,“ linebacker Matt Milano said.

Despite the controversial call, the Bills defense stepped up even more on the next three plays. Philip Rivers threw two incomplete passes and was only able to complete a 1 yard pass over the next three plays, forcing the Colts into a Hail Mary situation with four seconds to go.

There was no repeat of the Arizona cardinals Hail Mary from earlier this season, as Micah Hyde was able to swat the ball down and give the bills the victory.

“I walked to the locker room and hear everybody was nervous I’m like ‘dang all you gotta do is hit it down,'” Hyde said. “It was a big play obviously, the game-sealing play. As soon as I saw there were four seconds left and he had to go to the end zone I just backed up in the end zone and said there is no way this is happened again”

It wasn’t the only time the defense showed up in a big moment. A goal line stand late in the second quarter kept the Colts out of the end zone and prevented them from extending their lead. The Bills turned around and scored a touchdown, giving Buffalo the 14 to 10 lead at halftime. It was a big moment for both sides of the ball.

“That fourth down stand was huge,” defensive back Micah Hyde said. “They drove the whole field on us and to come up with no points is big. Obviously we don’t want them to drive the field on us, but that was a huge goal line stand.“

“We like to say bend but don’t break in the red zone,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “Couple of drives today they were able to drive the field on us, but to be able to hold our own in the red zone just turn around on fourth and goal and stop them and see her often to turn around and drive the ball 99 yards, that’s complementary football. That’s what the coaches are talking about all season really, but all week so it was a fun game to be a part of.”

Buffalo’s defense also held strong late in the third quarter, stopping the Colts at the 15 yard line and forcing a field goal. Indianapolis kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed the field goal which proved to be a difference maker in the three point win.

Despite showing moments of great performance, this defense is still looking to play better in the next round.

“We found a way to get it done in the end, but there’s still a lot of stuff we got to work on,” Hyde said. “That’s weird saying after winning a playoff game, but it’s the truth. We’ve got to get back to the tables this week and try to eliminate some of the big plays that they got on us.”

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