A season Buffalo Bills fans have long been waiting for stayed very much alive on Saturday. The Bills held on for a 27-24 wild-card playoff win over Indianapolis, marking Buffalo’s first postseason victory since 1995. And it came in the first playoff game to take place in Buffalo since 1996.
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This year’s Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995, as they finished the regular season 13-3 and earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed for the playoffs. Buffalo had been 0-6 in the playoffs since a 37-22 win over Miami on Dec. 30, 1995, a streak that included two postseason losses in the past four years. The fact that the Bills are now regular playoff participants is a big deal, considering they were absent each season from 2000-2016, but finally getting a victory is an even bigger deal.
After losing a 16-0 third-quarter lead last year in a 22-19 overtime loss to Houston in the wild-card round, Bills fans were on edge as the team nearly squandered a 24-10 fourth-quarter lead on Saturday. But instead, Buffalo closed out the victory, its seventh consecutive win this season and longest winning streak since 1990.
And some of those long-suffering fans actually got to witness the win in person. Fans were allowed inside Bills Stadium for the first time all year, with 6,772 people better than none.
In his postgame media session, Bills head coach Sean McDermott made sure to thank those fans, but first he praised God.
“I just want to praise God for this afternoon and this day; what a beautiful day in Orchard Park, New York,” he said. “To Him be all the glory.”
And he urged his players to stay “humble and hungry” as they advance in the playoffs.
🗣 Humble and hungry.@Pepsi #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/7CJOB2Xopn
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 9, 2021
Much of the credit for the Bills’ turnaround can go to McDermott, who took over in 2017. He’s led them to the playoffs three of his four seasons, and their 13 regular-season wins this year marked the franchise’s most since 1991.
The reason he’s in Buffalo, McDermott says, is God. He often talks openly about his faith in Christ, and he discussed God’s plan back in May during a live video chat with “FCA Sports Talk.”
“I believe that God’s plan prevails, and God had a plan, He ordained this to happen for me to come to Buffalo with my family,” McDermott said “I mean, fit is important, right? This is a blue jeans, work boots style community, and that’s me, that’s how I grew up. And so God had this plan, and He had it planned since I was born, to bring me here and my family for a reason. I still, at the end of the day, am waiting to see, as we continue to move forward, His plan continue to unfold for us in Buffalo … I just know God’s in control.”
Soon after arriving in Western New York, McDermott got a sense of how much his new community was aching for football success. He said he met some fans who simply asked him to get the team to the playoffs so their children could see why they’ve cheered for this team for so long.
“Man, these people are really counting on me,” McDermott explained with FCA. “I take that to heart. I take that as a responsibility, because not only is it my livelihood and trying to make ends meet for my family — which we’re very grateful and blessed for what we have — but to me it is a partnership. It is a union between the head coach, in this case, and the fanbase, and I take that to heart. I take it seriously.”
He says his faith in Christ helps him handle that responsibility, which will continue to grow as he continues on in the playoffs. The Bills will get another home game next week as they host the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC.
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