OPINION: Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Colts at Bills

The Bills hang on and advance to the AFC Divisional Round
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By WGR 550 SportsRadio

The Buffalo Bills won their first playoff game since 1995 by beating the Indianapolis Colts, 27-24, in the AFC Wild Card Round on Saturday.

Here are my Arrows Up and Down from the game:

ARROW UP:

The Fans!

What an amazing atmosphere it was inside, and even outside Bills Stadium, even with the limited amount of fans in attendance. They were far louder than even I thought they could be, forcing Colts quarterback Philip Rivers to have to creep up to the line of scrimmage several times in order to be heard by his linemen. It was great seeing them, and great knowing many of them were finally able to see their team play this season. It's also great to know more fans will be able watch this team next week, as well.

Josh Allen

The Bills quarterback basically put the entire offense on his back, especially from the final drive of the second quarter on. From 1:46 left in the first half, when the Bills got the ball at their own four-yard line and down 10-7, through the end of the game (one half and one drive), Allen was 19-of-26 for 251 yards passing. He finished the game 26-of-35 for 324 yards, with two touchdown passes and a whopping 9.25 yards per-attempt. A big number, especially for that many attempts. Allen also ran 11 times for 54 yards and a touchdown, totaling 378 total yards and three total touchdowns.

Stefon Diggs

The Bills' First-Team All-Pro wideout showed why he earned the honor by catching six passes for 128 yards (a 21.3 yard per-reception average) and a 36-yard touchdown. Diggs was held to just one catch in the first half, but exploded the second half for five catches, 92 yards and the touchdown.

Gabriel Davis’ toes

Allen completed two big-time passes to Davis on the critical late first-half drive that started at their four-yard line. Both were made possible because of Davis’ ability to tap and drag his toes with very little room to spare on the sidelines, even while still running. Those two passes went for 37 and 19 yards, respectively, and Davis finished with four grabs for 85 yards, matching Diggs with 21.3 yards per-catch.

Offensive efficiency

With how the game looked and felt, it didn’t seem like this would be something really good for the Bills, but they averaged 6.8 yards per-offensive play. That's the fourth-highest yards per-play average the Bills have had this season. They were efficient on offense, but just didn't have the ball very long compared to the Colts.

Tyler Bass

The Bills' rookie kicker continued his excellent season by nailing all of his kicks, going 3-for-3 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals. One of his field goals was good from 46 yards, and then he made a huge kick from 54 yards with only 8:08 left in the fourth quarter.

Goal line stand

With 3:15 left in the first half and the Colts leading 10-7, Indianapolis was set up with a 1st-and-goal at the Bills' four-yard line. On their next two plays, they gained three yards to get it to the Buffalo one-yard line. Then the Bills stuffed running back Nyheim Hines for a three-yard loss. The Colts went for it on fourth down, but Rivers’ pass fell incomplete. The Bills took over and drove 96 yards for a touchdown. Instead of the Colts leading 17-7 or 13-7 had they gone for the field goal, the Bills led 14-10 at the half.

Penalties

The Bills were penalized only twice the entire afternoon and for only seven yards total.

Red zone offense

The Bills scored touchdowns on their only two trips inside the Colts' 20-yard line.

Red zone defense

The Bills held the Colts to two touchdowns on their five trips inside their 20-yard line (40%).

"Bend, don’t break" first half defense

In the first half, the Colts rolled up 222 yards of offense, 13 first downs, and held the ball for nearly 20 of 30 minutes, but only scored 10 points.

Micah Hyde

Three pass breakups in one game is a lot for any player, but even moreso for a safety. That’s what Hyde had to go along with his seven total tackles.

Hail Mary defense

For all the talk about bad Hail Mary defense was earlier in the season after giving a couple of them up, most notably at the end of the game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Bills played the final play of this game perfectly, with Hyde emphatically knocking down the Rivers Hail Mary attempt.

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ARROW DOWN:

John Brown

Brown was held without a catch the entire game, even though he was officially thrown to four times. He had a drop on a would-be first down that went right through his hands early in the second half.

Andre Roberts

As good as Roberts has been this season, this was not a good game for him. He failed to field a short kickoff in the air in the first quarter, having to fall on it at the Bills’ 15-yard line. He also returned four kickoffs for an average of only 17.3 yards, well below his league-leading 30.0 yards per-return average. The Bills' average starting field position for the game was only their own 15-yard line.

No turnovers, no sacks

The Bills defense failed to get a sack, nor force a turnover in the game. It was only the second time this season that has happened. The first and only other game was their first loss of the season back in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans.

Short-yardage running game

The Bills ran for 96 yards on 4.6 yards per-carry, which, by themselves, aren’t bad numbers. However, they failed to pick up several key short-yardage situations when they tried to run the ball.

Third down offense

The Bills converted only 22% of their third down attempts, going just 2-for-9. They failed to convert a single third down in the first half (0-for-4).

Third down defense

The Colts went 9-for-17 on third downs. That’s a tremendous 53%. The Bills couldn’t get them off the field.

Time of possession

The Bills had the ball for only 25:43, their second-lowest total of the season, mostly because of both stats above.

Field position difference

The Bills' average starting field position was their own 15-yard line. The Colts was their own 30. A huge discrepancy.

Run defense

It was apparent coming into the game that the Bills would have a big test against the Colts' running game, and it proved to be right. Indianapolis ran for 163 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per-carry.

Defending tight ends

The Colts used their tight ends a lot and hurt the Bills with them. Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, and Trey Burton combined for 14 catches for 136 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion.

Big plays given up

The Colts had eight plays of at least 20 yards, and three of at least 30 yards. Of the eight 20-plus-yard plays, three were via the run and five were through the air.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports

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