The Buffalo Bills set out to end the 2021 regular season with a win and the AFC East title in-hand, and they did just that. The Bills defeated the New York Jets on Sunday by a score of 27-10 at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.
While the Bills clinched a playoff berth in last week’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday's win over the Jets clinched the Bills their second-consecutive division title. It's the first time the Bills won the AFC East in front of the Western New York faithful since 1995.
As for the Jets, they finish the 2021 season with a 4-13 record. As a result of Sunday's loss, the Jets now own the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as the 10th overall pick that originally belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bills started this game out with a bang.
They drove 75 yards in just seven plays to go up 7-0. The drive was capped off when quarterback Josh Allen found wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass. It was one of the more highlight-worthy touchdown passes Allen has thrown this season.
After the Bills defense forced Jets quarterback Zach Wilson into a three-and-out on their opening drive on offense, the Bills offense added to their lead. Kicker Tyler Bass drilled a 41-yard field goal to give the Bills a 10-0 lead with 2:31 left in the first quarter.
The Bills closed the first quarter by doing something they hadn't done since 2016: Blocking a punt. Defensive back Cam Lewis blocked Jets punter Braden Mann's punt to set Buffalo up in prime starting position for their next drive.
The second quarter was a punt fest for both teams. Four-consecutive drives ended in punts; two for the Jets, two for the Bills.
After Bills punter Matt Haack's second punt of the game traveled 21 yards, the Jets were able to get on the board.
Wilson found Jets wide receiver Keenan Cole Sr. on a quick slant route, and Cole outran a series of Bills defenders. With the extra point, the Bills' lead over the Jets was trimmed from to 10-7 with 3:51 left in the second quarter.
The Bills offense then went three-and-out for the third-consecutive drive.
Bills fans felt déjà vu, as Haack's next punt of the game only traveled 23 yards. This time, the Jets weren't able to take advantage, as Bills defensive end Mario Addison was able to strip sack Wilson. It was the team's third sack of the game, and Addison's sixth of the season.
With no timeouts in hand and 1:39 left in the second quarter, Allen and the Bills offense drove 81 yards down the field. With seven seconds left in the second quarter, the Bills were able to draw a defensive pass interference penalty, which gave them 1st-and-goal on New York's three-yard line.
However, the Bills elected to kick another field goal, as Bass drilled a 21-yard chip shot field goal to give the Bills a 13-7 lead at the conclusion of the first half.
During the first half, Allen was able to set the franchise record for most completions by a Bills quarterback during a single season.
Similar to the second quarter, the first four drives of the third quarter resulted in punts. A grand total of 15 offensive plays were ran in the first 6:30 of the second half.
With 7:13 left in the third quarter, Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver registered the team's fifth sack of the game. He added his sack to the two sacks registered by Bills safety Jordan Poyer, and the other two sacks notched by Bills defensive ends Carlos "Boogie" Basham and Addison.
After the Jets defense forced the Bills offense into another three-and-out on the Bills' 29-yard line, chaos temporarily broke out.
Haack continued his struggles, as he mishandled a snap on a punt attempt, fumbled the ball, recovered it, and attempted to punt it while being tackled by members of the Jets' special teams unit. He was able to successfully punt the ball to, roughly, the line of scrimmage before it was returned by a member of the Jets special teams to the Bills' 22-yard line.
Buffalo's defense held the Jets to another three-and-out, eliminating the possibility of the New York offense capitalizing on the mishap that ensued on the punt attempt. Jets kicker Eddy Piñeiro nailed a 49-yard field goal attempt to make the score 13-10 Bills with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
The Bills defense started the fourth quarter by setting the season-high for sacks. Linebacker Matt Milano registered the team's seventh sack of the game.
After a lackluster second and third quarter, the Bills offense came alive on their first drive of the fourth quarter. They marched 51 yards in seven plays to take a 20-10 lead. It ended with a Devin Singletary one-yard touchdown run.
On the following drive, the Bills added to their already season-high sack total. Oliver and Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes joined forces to bring down Wilson again.
On the following drive, the Bills put the nail in the Jets' coffin. Singletary caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Allen for his second touchdown on the day to cap a seven-play, 48-yard drive that took 3:31 off the clock.
With roughly two minutes left in regulation in Orchard Park, the fourth quarter came to an end in Miami between the Dolphins and New England Patriots. A Patriots lose was one of the two scenarios that were needed for the Bills to clinch the AFC East. Despite a late comeback attempt from New England, they fell short, losing 33-24 to the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
As Bills fans learned of this revelation, they began to rejoice throughout the stadium.
The Bills subbed in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky just before the two-minute warning to see the game through to the end. As the clock struck zero at Highmark Stadium, Bills fans continued to celebrate clinching their second of back-to-back AFC East titles.
- 7-0 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (10:42) - Josh Allen fires a 10-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards, 4:18
- 10-0 BUFFALO: Bills field goal (2:31) - Tyler Bass' 41-yard field goal attempt is good.
Drive info: 13 plays, 70 yards, 6:29
- 10-7 BUFFALO: Jets touchdown (3:51) - Keelan Cole, Sr. breaks free on a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Zach Wilson. (Eddy Piñeiro's extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 45 yards, 1:31
- 13-7 BUFFALO: Bills field goal (0:00) - Tyler Bass' 21-yard field goal attempt is good.
Drive info: 10 plays, 81 yards, 1:39
- 13-10 BUFFALO: Jets field goal (3:55) - Eddy Piñeiro's 49-yard field goal attempt is good.
Drive info: 3 plays, -9 yards, 1:31
- 20-10 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (8:21) - Devin Singletary forces his way into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown run. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 51 yards, 4:12
- 27-17 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (3:53) - Josh Allen tosses a five-yard touchdown pass to Devin Singletary. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 48 yards, 3:31
After a wild day final day of the 2021 NFL regular season, the No. 3-seed Bills will match up with the No.6-seed Patriots in the AFC Wild Card Round on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. EST in Orchard Park.