Buffalo clinched a playoff berth when Devin Singletary scored two touchdowns rushing in the second half to make up for Josh Allen’s sloppiness in a 29-15 victory over Atlanta that eliminated the Falcons from contention.
The AFC East-leading Bills rallied to clinch their third consecutive playoff spot. Buffalo (10-6) did so by beating the Falcons, coupled with the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Falcons (7-9) went down swinging in being eliminated from the NFC race to extend their postseason drought to a fourth year in their first season under coach Arthur Smith. The Falcons forced four turnovers, with an injury and COVID-19-depleted secondary intercepting Allen on three consecutive possessions spanning halftime.
Allen did a much better job running than throwing by scoring two touchdowns rushing on a snow-dusted field.
Buffalo won its third straight and needs only to beat the New York Jets in its finale next weekend to clinch its second consecutive division title – and assure the Bills home-field advantage for the wild-card playoff round.
The Bills didn’t make things easy on themselves. They squandered a 14-2 first-half lead. And the game wasn’t decided until the Bills benefited from the Falcons having a touchdown reversed on replay review, compounded by quarterback Matt Ryan being flagged for taunting with 6:07 left.
Rather than scoring on a seven-yard run and cutting Buffalo’s deficit to 29-22, officials ruled Ryan’s knee was down at the one. The taunting penalty then pushed Atlanta back to the 16, where Ryan threw incompletions into the end zone on third and fourth down.
The Bills turned to the ground game once Allen opened the third quarter getting intercepted by Foye Oluokun. Singletary capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a six-yard run, while Allen completed a pass to Cole Beasley for a two-point conversion to put Buffalo up 22-15. Singletary scored on a four-yard rub on Buffalo’s next possession.
Singletary finished with 23 carries for a career-high 110 yards rushing. Allen, meantime, finished 11 of 26 for 120 yards passing, but had 81 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Allen’s first two interceptions to close the second quarter led to the Falcons scoring 10 points in the final 1:48 to take a 15-14.
Mike Davis capped a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a one-yard run after Allen having his pass tipped by Oluokun and getting picked off by Duron Harmon in the end zone. A.J. Terrell’s diving interception then led to Younghoe Koo hitting a 24-yard field goal as time expired.
The Falcons opened the scoring with a safety when Atlanta’s Avery Williams forced Marquez Stevenson to fumble a punt return. Buffalo’s Jake Kumerow didn’t recover until he was tackled in the end zone.
Atlanta’s roster was thinned by COVID-19 with nine players on the reserve list, a group which included starting safety Jaylinn Hawkins. The Falcons’ secondary was also further depleted with cornerback Fabian Moreau sidelined by rib injuries.