Josh Allen threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as the Buffalo Bills bagged their first NFL playoff victory since 1995 with a nail-biting 27-24 wild card defeat of the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Allen finished with 324 yards from 26-of-35 attempts to send the Bills into next week’s AFC divisional round while the Colts were left ruing a decision not to kick an easy first-half field goal that ultimately proved the difference.
It was the second-seeded Bills’ first win in the post-season since a 37-22 win over the Miami Dolphins in December 1995, and ended a run of five straight playoff losses.
The Colts, meanwhile, came up just short, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to come within a field goal of tying the game with two minutes remaining.
The Colts had one last chance to mount a game-winning drive, but the game ended when a desperate Hail Mary attempt from quarterback Philip Rivers was batted away by Bills safety Micah Hyde.
“It doesn’t matter how it looks, it’s the playoffs, it’s win or go home,” a relieved Allen said afterwards.
“It has been a long time since Bills Mafia was able to celebrate like this. But it’s one game. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The Colts had taken the lead midway through the first quarter with a 30-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal in freezing conditions at the Bills’ Orchard Park, New York, home.
But Allen launched a long drive before picking out Dawson Knox for his first touchdown to make it 7-3 to Buffalo.
Rivers then led the Colts on a a nine-play 65-yard drive to send Jonathan Taylor rumbling into the end zone for a 10-7 lead.
The Colts looked poised to stretch their lead after forcing a Buffalo punt, but instead opted to pass up an easy field goal from the Bills four-yard line that would have made it 13-7.
The Bills defense forced the stop, and then Allen launched a 96-yard drive that ended with the quarterback rushing over from five yards to help make it 14-10 at the break.
A 46-yard Tyler Bass field goal put the Bills 17-10 ahead in the third quarter before Allen then picked out Diggs from 35 yards for a touchdown for a 24-10 lead.
Rivers cut the deficit with a touchdown to Zach Pascal but the Colts were left 11 points adrift when rookie kicker Bass nailed a 54-yard field goal as the Bills took a 27-16 lead.
Rivers set up a nervy finale with a touchdown pass to Jack Doyle, and a two-point conversion made it 27-24, but the Bills defense held firm.
Allen shines as Bills end playoff drought over Colts The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ France 24.