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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, 2019 will go down as the best Buffalo Bills team of the decade. Sad, I know.

With their second trip to the postseason in the last three seasons on the horizon, the Bills front office has built a team trending in the right direction. So as we shift our focus to wild card weekend, let’s hand out some awards for the best [and worst] players in 2019.

Offensive MVP: John Brown

I’m not sure the John Brown addition could’ve gone much better for the Bills. After pursuing the 29-year-old receiver last year, Brown signed a three-year, $27M contract in March. In his first season with the Bills, Brown led the team with 72 receptions, 1060 yards, and six touchdowns. Brown is the Bills’ first wideout to surpass 1,000 yards since 2015 [Sammy Watkins, 1047].

What has been most impressive about Brown is his instant chemistry with second-year QB Josh Allen. When the pocket started to collapse, Allen often looked for Brown, who had 115 targets in 15 games. With two years left on a team-friendly deal, the bond between Brown and Allen should continue to blossom next season, especially if the Bills add a few more weapons on offense.

John Brown will finish the regular season with 72 receptions, 1060 yards and 6 TD.

Cole Beasley will finish with 67 receptions, 778 yards and 6 TD.

bUt ThIs Is HoW Bad TEAms StAY bAD

— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 29, 2019
Honorable mention: Cole Beasley

It’s hard to praise Brown without giving some love to Cole Beasley. Like Brown, Beasley had an exceptional first year with the Bills, finishing the regular season with 67 receptions for 778 yards and six touchdowns. As teams started to put more of an emphasis on stopping Brown, Beasley provided the Bills with a mismatch in the middle of the field. With three-years left on his contract, Beasley should be the go-to guy up the middle for years to come.

Defensive MVP: Micah Hyde

In the Bills home opener against the Bengals, safety Micah Hyde noticed cornerback Kevin Johnson was lined up in the wrong spot. Before the ball was snapped, Hyde ran over to Johnson and pointed for him to move to the other side of the field. A few seconds later, Johnson recorded an easy sack and it was further proof of the importance of Micah Hyde to the defense.

While his stat line doesn’t jump off the page, Hyde is the glue that holds the Bills’ defense intact. He makes adjustments on the fly, plays a responsible game and makes everyone on the defense better.

Most underrated: Matt Milano

It’s easy to overlook the impact Matt Milano makes on defense until he’s not able to play. In the one game the Bills played without Milano [Week 7 vs. MIA], the defense looked out of sync and a step slow. While Bills fans fully appreciate how talented the third-year linebacker is, he is still far from a household name around the league.

With only one year left on his rookie contract, Milano is going to get a hefty raise and he deserves it. Keeping both Milano and MLB Tremaine Edmunds together for the next several years should be a priority for the front office.

Rookie of the Year: *Tie* Ed Oliver & Devin Singletary

The Bills have their running back of the future. Devin Singletary spent the first few weeks of the season sharing the workload with veteran Frank Gore but has solidified the starting job since. The 2019 third-round pick finished the regular season with 775 yards on 151 carries [5.1 yards per carry]. Along with two rushing touchdowns, Singletary added two receiving touchdowns and 29 receptions. Barring a major surprise, Singletary will likely be the Bills feature back next season and he’s earned the promotion.

Devin Singletary & Frank Gore explain what it’s like sharing a backfield and why they’re so close #Bills @WKBW

— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 24, 2019
On defense, it took Ed Oliver a few weeks to get going but he has been dominant since the Bills Week 11 trip to Miami. With every passing week, his role on the defense increases and he’s becoming a problem for opposing offensive lineman. Arguably his best game came on the big stage, registering two sacks in the Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Along with rookie tight end Dawson Knox, both Singletary, and Oliver should have fans excited about the potential of the 2019 draft class.

Rookie with the most still to prove: Cody Ford

Cody Ford left a lot to be desired during his first season in Buffalo. More often than not, Ford was the weakest link on an offensive line that did a pretty good job protecting Josh Allen. Working in a rotation with veteran Ty Nsekhe, Ford took over the job after Nsekhe was injured during Week 11’s game against the Dolphins.

In his first game back, Nsekhe was once again injured in the third quarter and was carted off the field with an ankle injury. If Ford is forced to start in the playoffs, that could be a big mismatch for opponents.

Ford’s early struggles don’t mean he won’t turn into a solid starter down the line — but it also means the Bills should consider drafting another right tackle or addressing the position in free agency. Perhaps Ford is better suited at guard.

Most improved: Shaq Lawson

You could argue Shaq Lawson has been the Bills’ most effective pass rusher this season. Jordan Phillips leads the team with 9.5 sacks but Lawson’s consistent pursuit and explosion off the line have been a pleasant surprise in 2019.

After an injury-plagued start to his career, Lawson was declined his fifth-year option by the Bills and has made an impression since. At the beginning of the season, the 25-year-old defensive end said he would use that as motivation and it has worked. With 6.5 sacks, 32 total tackles and a forced fumble Lawson is having his best season as a pro. Deciding what to do with Lawson and Phillips is going to be something to monitor in the offseason. With plenty of cap space, the Bills can look to bring both players back. But they might prefer to use their money elsewhere and keep plenty of cap space.

LVP: Trent Murphy

When Trent Murphy signed a three-year, $22.5M contract last year he was expected to bring the Bills someone who could consistently pressure the opposing QB. After missing three games last season, Murphy said at the beginning of this year he was starting to feel like himself again. But the production hasn’t consistently been there.

Murphy finished the 2019 regular season with five sacks, two of which came in a meaningless win against the Jets in Week 17. While Murphy has shown flashes, more often than not he’s been the forgotten name on the Bills defensive line. With a cap hit of nearly $9M next season, don’t be surprised if the Bills part ways with Murphy before his final year of his contract. If he’s brought back for another year, he’ll need to be far more productive to be worth his contract.

Team MVP: Tre’Davious White

This one way pretty easy. In his third season with the Bills, Tre’Davious White has cemented himself as one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. Some experts have even thrown White’s name into the conversation for defensive player of the year. And while I think he should be considered, I’d be shocked if a CB from the Bills took home the award.

White finished the regular season with six interceptions, tying him with Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore and Vikings CB Anthony Harris for the most interceptions in the NFL. White added 17 passes defended, 48 solo tackles and two forced fumbles on the season. Signing White to an extension should be of the utmost importance in the offseason as the market for cornerbacks continues to rise. He’s one of the best players at his position and the biggest reason why the Bills had one of the best defensive units in the league. He’s also a great goalie.

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The Bills are going to the playoffs, after clinching a spot against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Bills safety Micah Hyde is no stranger to the postseason. Last season is the only year of Hyde’s career in which he hasn’t gone to the postseason.

To chat about the win over the Steelers, the upcoming matchup with New England, and the season as a whole, Hyde joined Schopp & the Bulldog as part of Buffalo Bills Football Monday. Here’s some of the best from Hyde’s time with the guys.

On the team being healthy all season:

“Guys have their routines, hot tubs, massages, cold tubs. Coach later in the week & late in the year does a good job helping us stay healthy. Sean brought in a culture where he’s like ‘hey get your rehab, get in the training room’. How healthy we are starts with McDermott. As a professional you should be in the training room, getting your body right for the next game. It shouldn’t be looked at as ‘oh you’re soft’.”

On staying optimistic when down in games:

“Our mindset has been different. Ups & downs, we feel like we’re going to win the game. Even down a field goal, we felt like we were going to win.”

On a different routine for Sunday Night Football:

“It was a long day, not playing on Sunday night in a while. I woke up at the regular time, ate breakfast, watched film. Took a nap.”

On fans showing up to the airport:

“What’s amazing is it was a work day the next day for people. Players on other teams acknowledge Bills Mafia. It’s safe to say we’ve got the best fans in the NFL right now.”

You can hear Micah Hyde’s full segment with Schopp & the Bulldog below.

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Usually these analyses focus on a specific aspect of the team or player. To close the season I thought it would be fitting to look at, well, the close of the season. Not counting the punt, the Buffalo Bills had a ten-play drive in overtime that sealed their fate for the 2019-2020 season. We’ll use the coaches film to take a look at each of these ten plays (sorry Corey Bojorquez and Reid Ferguson) and ride the roller coaster one last time.

Play 1

No matter any other message I try to convey, there’s no avoiding at least some conjecture on what could have been. It’s easy to second guess plays when I have frame-by-frame at my side. Don’t think of this as finger pointing though. Think of this as an illustration of the razor’s edge on which many NFL plays live. With Quinton Spain’s man working inside, the lane behind Morse is also narrow and makes the resulting choice understandable.

Play 2

On second down the safer play may have been the wisest, but again we’re dabbling in what if. Brian Daboll and Josh Allen gamble on winning it all. Just like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects Patrick DiMarco to run a go route. The pass travels over 50 yards downfield and is perhaps a couple feet off. DiMarco’s brakes leave him open in what is one of the better performances tracking a deep ball all year. The razor’s edge will sometimes cut you.

Play 3

Josh Allen moves to his right to give himself the option of running or gunning. The Houston Texans have his number and eyes on Allen’s best target at this point, Dawson Knox. Both young players execute and keep the team alive.

Play 4

A lot of chatter this week has been how the Bills collapsed. That’s not entirely unfair. This play illustrates a strong counterpoint, though. The Texans came ready to play too. The same determination and execution the Bills used to gain a lead in the first place happened to be present on the other side of the ball too.

Play 5

Josh Allen’s best option is to throw it away. The Texans have again dialed up the right play at the right time.

Play 6

After the last few plays, it looks like Allen might have felt pressure that wasn’t there. Moving right leads to real pressure, which he navigates expertly, all while keeping his eyes open for a target. Devin Singletary understands the situation and gives Allen a target. One incredible throw later and the Bills are still in it.

Play 7

Brian Daboll calls a designed run for Allen and it’s a doozy. A small army of blockers have gotten well ahead of the Texans’ defense and a decent gain looks all but certain. One miss is all it takes sometimes.

Play 8

Plays like this fuel Allen’s critics and this, too, is not entirely unfair. I’ll defer to one of my old defenses of Tyrod Taylor. A quarterback can be a limiting factor in a team’s offense and hold them back. As a starter, Taylor led the Bills to respectable finishes in points for. The simple conclusion then is that if Taylor was the biggest limiting factor, he wasn’t an anchor.

Allen deserves some blame for this pass and other plays. And yes, Allen could still turn out to be the limiting factor. But as of right now, the Allen “anchor” helped force overtime in a playoff game and came up with great plays in this drive to keep it alive to this point.

Play 9

One thing that should not be questioned is the team’s heart. It’d be a tough challenge to find a play where they weren’t giving it their all. I froze at the end to show McDermott. Instead of opting for simple self preservation, he’s keeping his eyes on what’s happening, protecting his QB and possibly about to pick a fight with the refs. Culture starts at the top and is displayed in all the little moments that make up a game.

Play 10

The Texans have an easier play to defend than the one we won’t discuss going the opposite way. The Buffalo Bills play this fairly safe and cross their fingers. The Texans remain disciplined and only bite to Duke Williams’s side when it’s clear that Allen is throwing that way. Even if the ball was caught, or thrown to the other side of the field, this was resulting in a punt.

This didn’t end the game either. While a score was the desired outcome, the Bills did manage to flip the field and force the Texans to drive.

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Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Dion Dawkins took time out of his offseason to jump on The Players’ Tribune.

The outlet, made for and by professional athletes, allows players all across sports to touch on topics personal to them with a personal touch. What is near and dear to Dawkins? Bills Mafia.

Dawkins used the outlet to pen his thoughts on the season that was and that teammates that are special to him. But an overlying topic was Bills fans and he had two key thoughts.

First, if you’re in, you’re in. If you’re not, don’t try to become a bandwagon member of Bills Mafia.

“I have an important message for those people,” Dawkins explained. “DO NOT TRY THIS.”

“The bandwagon is full,” Dawkins added.

But Dawkins wasn’t just trying to warn outsiders, he was excited to thank the Day 1 members. The left tackle explained throughout his football career, folks only knew he was a football player because he was big. But not in Buffalo.

Dawkins writes:

In Buffalo, man, it’s crazy. It’s crazy! Y’all are crazy. And I mean that in the best way possible. I’ll be at Wegmans, just shopping around, minding my business — and it’s not, “Big man over there, I think he might play for the Bills??” It’s not even, “Oh yeah, that dude, he plays for the Bills.” It’s, “DION!” It’s, “Shnowman!” It’s, “You already shnow!” And maybe that sounds like a small thing….. but I have to tell you, it’s really big. Those interactions, those moments with fans, those quick little hellos where the whole thing just lodges in your brain, like, Wow, what I do matters to these people? And they don’t just know me….. they know ABOUT me?? No lie: I cherish those moments. I will forever.

Friday and no work? #[email protected]

— Sam-Jarvis Green-Carges (@carkeys33) January 10, 2020

For Dawkins’ full article in The Players’ Tribune, click here.

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The playoffs are underway. At the start of last weekend there were 17 former Iowa players trying to help their team earn the Vince Lombardi Trophy and pick up a nice ring in the process.

As long as the Houston Texans or Seattle Seahawks don’t win it all, at least one former Hawkeye will be getting that ring!

For the former Hawkeyes not in the playoffs, their final stats and information are at the bottom of the article and as team are eliminated, they will join their friends at the bottom the week after their loss.

Hawkeyes in the Playoffs

QB C.J. Beathard (San Francisco 49ers, 3rd season in the NFL): Beathard and the 49ers own the top seed in the NFC and had a bye this week. They host the Vikings on Saturday afternoon.

OL Ike Boettger (Buffalo Bills, 2nd season): Boettger and the Bills lost in the wild card game to the Texans 22-19 in overtime. Boettger was inactive for the game.

OL Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers, 10th season): Bulaga and the Packers have the second seed in the NFC playoffs and will host Seattle on Sunday night. POTW = 1.

WR Nick Easley (Buffalo Bills, 1st season): Easley is on the Buffalo practice squad.

C James Ferentz (New England Patriots, 4th season): Ferentz and the Patriots were upset by Tennessee 20-13 in New England on Saturday night to end their season. Ferentz only played in three plays for the special teams. POTW = 1.

TE Parker Hesse (Tennessee Titans, 1st season): Hesse is on the Titans practice squad.

LB Anthony Hitchens (Kansas City Chiefs, 6th season): Hitchens and the Chiefs have the second seed in the AFC and will host Houston on Sunday afternoon. POTW honors = 1.

S Amani Hooker (Tennessee Titans, 1st season): Hooker and the Titans knocked off the defending champion Patriots on Saturday night to advance in the playoffs. The Titans will travel to Baltimore to play the top-seeded Ravens on Saturday night. Hooker had one tackle in the victory.

Wild Card Round – Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Amani Hooker in a rugby scrum at the end of the first half against New England. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
S Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills, 7th season): Hyde and the Bills lost in the wild card game to the Texans 22-19 in overtime to end their season. Hyde had five tackles in the loss. POTW honors =2.

CB Josh Jackson (Green Bay Packers, 2nd season): Jackson and the Packers had a bye. They will host Seattle on Sunday night.

DT Jaleel Johnson (Minnesota Vikings, 3rd season): Johnson and the Vikings upset the Saints 26-20 in overtime. Minnesota moves on to play at San Francisco on Saturday afternoon. Johnson had one tackle for loss in the victory. POTW honors = 1.

TE George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers, 3rd season): Kittle and the 49ers own the top seed in the NFC and had a bye this week. They host the Vikings on Saturday afternoon. POTW honors = 4.

LB Ben Niemann (Kansas City Chiefs, 2nd season): Niemann and the Chiefs have the second seed in the AFC and will host Houston on Sunday afternoon. POTW honors = 1.

OL Riley Reiff (Minnesota Vikings, 8th season): Reiff and the Vikings went to New Orleans and upset the Saints 26-20 in overtime. Minnesota moves on to play at San Francisco on Saturday afternoon.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings
Why not? Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
OL Keegan Render (Philadelphia Eagles, 1st season): Render is on the practice squad for Philadelphia.

OL Ross Reynolds (San Francisco 49ers, 1st season): Reynolds is on the San Francisco practice squad.

OL Marshal Yanda (Baltimore Ravens, 13th season): Yanda and the Ravens had a bye this week and will host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. POTW honors = 1.

Final Stats for Eliminated Hawkeyes

OL Austin Blythe (Los Angeles Rams, 4th season): Blythe and the Rams finished their season at 9-7 as they defeated Arizona 31-24. With a high payroll and no first round pick in 2020, the Rams will have to be creative to keep up with San Francisco and Seattle. Blythe played and started in 15 games on the season while drawing just three penalties on the year. Blythe is a free agent for 2020.

RB James Butler (Oakland Raiders, 2nd season): Butler was on the Raiders practice squad in 2019.

DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta Falcons, 9th season): Clayborn and the Falcons finished 7-9 on the season. Clayborn played in 15 games recording 18 tackles which included four sacks. He also forced two fumbles. Clayborn is a free agent for 2020.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Atlanta Falcons
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
DT Mike Daniels (Detroit Lions, 8th season): Daniels and the Lions finished 3-12-1 on the season. Daniels was put on the IR on December 16 and was only able to play in nine games for the Lions. His ten tackles and one sack were probably not what the Lions had in mind when they gave him an $8 million contract. Daniels is a free agent for 2020.

C James Daniels (Chicago Bears, 2nd season): Daniels and the Bears finished the season at 8-8. Daniels played and started in all 16 games for the Bears as he played both center and guard. Daniels was called for four holding penalties on the season. There are still two years left on his rookie contract.

DT Carl Davis (Jacksonville Jaguars, 5th season): Davis and the Jaguars ended the season at 6-10. Davis played in two games for Jacksonville getting one tackle. He also played one game in his time with Indianapolis. Davis is a free agent for 2020.

TE Noah Fant (Denver Broncos, 1st season): Fant and the Broncos finished the season at 7-9. Fant played in all 16 games for Denver and ended the season with 40 catches for 562 yards and three touchdowns. Fant was the number 20 pick in the 2019 draft and has three years remaining on his rookie contract. POTW =2.

Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills
“Sorry my friend, not today.” Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images
S Jake Gervase (Los Angeles Rams, 1st season): Gervase and the Rams finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Gervase only saw action in two games this season and didn’t record any stats. Gervase signed a two year contract in 2019 so he has one year remaining.

TE T.J. Hockenson (Detroit Lions, 1st season): Hockenson and the Lions finished 3-12-1 on the season. After suffering a significant ankle injury, Hockenson was only able to play in 12 games but during his short time was able to catch 32 balls for 367 yards and two touchdowns. The eighth overall pick in 2019 still has three years left on his rookie deal. POTW honors = 1.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers
TD for T.J. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images
LB Josey Jewell (Denver Broncos, 2nd season): Jewell and the Broncos finished the season at 7-9. Jewell dealt with some injuries over the season but still managed to play in 15 games for Denver. He recorded 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the year. Jewell still has two years remaining on his rookie contract. POTW honors = 1.

NFL: DEC 08 Broncos at Texans
The Outlaw. Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
CB Desmond King (Los Angeles Chargers, 3rd season): King and the Chargers finished their season at a disappointing 5-11 and will have the sixth pick in the upcoming draft. On the season King played in 15 games and had 50 tackles including 2.5 sacks. King also was featured in the return game and he returned 16 kicks for 331 yards and 21 punts for 118 yards and a touchdown. King will be entering the final year of his four year rookie contract in 2020. POTW honors = 1.

Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Week 16
Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
LB Christian Kirksey (Cleveland Browns, 6th season): Kirksey and the Browns finished their year with an under-performing record of 6-10. Kirksey was hurt early in the season and only managed to play in two games for the Browns. On the season he recorded 11 tackles and he has two years remaining on his contract though he potentially could be a salary cap casualty.

LS Casey Kreiter (Denver Broncos, 4th season): Kreiter and the Broncos finished the season at 7-9. For those keeping track at home, Kreiter snapped the ball 146 times for the special teams unit, down two snaps from 2018. Kreiter is a free agent for 2020 but I imagine he will be re-signed by Denver.

DB Greg Mabin (Cincinnati Bengals, 3rd season): Mabin and the Bengals won their last game of the year against Cleveland and still finished with a record of just 2-14. They own the top pick in the draft and are expected to take LSU qb Joe Burrow. Mabin was only active for nine games in 2019 and most of his time was spent on special teams. For the season he had just one tackle and one pass deflection. Mabin is a free agent for 2020.

OL Matt Nelson (Detroit Lions, 1st season): Nelson was on the practice squad for Detroit.

LB Anthony Nelson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1st season): Nelson and the Buccaneers finished their season at 7-9. The rookie battled injuries and only managed to see action in nine games. During that time he totaled eight tackles, one pass deflection, and a forced fumble. Nelson has three years left on his rookie deal.

OL Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins, 5th season): Scherff and the Redskins finished their season at 3-13. Scherff only was able to play in 11 games due to injury but managed to be named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts. Scherff is a free agent and should be looking for a big payday in 2020.

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The Bills regular season finale left them with a few extra injuries to be concerned about, but the signs were positive at practice on Tuesday.

After a game that saw two players get carted off the field and a couple of others leave the game, only one missed practice on Tuesday.

CB Levi Wallace did not practice due to an ankle injury suffered last Sunday. Head coach Sean McDermott said they’ll take things a day at a time with the starting cornerback.

Lawson and Roberts, who missed last week’s game with hamstring and foot injuries practiced on Tuesday on a limited basis as did Nsekhe, who was carted from the field in Week 17 with an ankle injury.

All three players were moving around well during the media viewing portion of practice Tuesday.

When Lawson was asked how his hamstring was feeling following practice, the defensive end had a two-word answer.

“It’s good,” he said.

Roberts also confirmed that his foot held up well in practice.

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Buffalo Bills cornerback Kevin Johnson spent four seasons with the Houston Texans as he was their former 2015 first-round pick. Of course, he would have knowledge on his old team.

However, his old quarterback had knowledge on him, and it came into play on the 34-yard pass to running back Taiwan Jones that setup Ka’imi Fairbairn’s game-winning 28-yard field goal in overtime of the AFC wild-card Saturday evening at NRG Stadium.

“I knew it was blitz 0,” Watson told Lisa Salters of ESPN after the game. “I checked the play. Kevin Johnson was here last year, so he knew the signal, seen him bail, and I just told myself to stay up.”

Watson shed two would-be sacks from Bills defenders and scrambled out to his right where he found Jones, whose 34-yard reception was more to do with his yards after the catch than Watson’s air yards.

Nonetheless, they would not have been possible if the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback had not stayed upright.

“It’s do or die right now, and all the work I put in in the offseason, I just had to make a play,” said Watson.

According to the former 2017 first-round draft pick from Clemson, he left little cards in the lockers of his teammates prior to the playoff game. On each card it said, “Let’s be great today.”

Said Watson: “So, somebody had to be great today. Why not me?”

Watson finished completing 20-of-25 for 247 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 14 times for 55 yards and a score.

Because of Watson’s efforts to be great against the Bills, the Texans are in the divisional round of the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history. The results of the Tennessee Titans versus New England Patriots wild-card bout on Saturday night determine whether the Texans travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens or go to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.

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Bills offensive lineman Quinton Spain is a pending free agent. He said he’d be willing to come back to the Bills before even testing the market when free agency opens in March.

As fellow players, the Bills locker room hopes to see their teammate get paid. After four years with the Titans, Spain signed a one-year “prove-it deal” with the Bills this past offseason. But they’re hoping it happens in Buffalo.

“We’d love to have him back. He deserves to get paid this offseason. The guy started every game, I don’t know if he missed a snap. A great person to be around, smart as hell, he made this offensive line so much better, helped me out a lot. I owe a lot to Quinton Spain,” center Mitch Morse said via WGR-550 Radio.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen echoed Morse, calling Spain someone he could depend upon.

“He’s been awesome for us. Just his mindset, his attitude, the way he plays, he brings a fire. He’s a really good dude, too,” Allen said. “I love him and I wish we’d get him back too. I know it’s the nature of the business. If I had a say, we’d have in back.”

Reflecting upon Spain’s season, there’s no real statistics to fall back on in regard to offensive linemen. But there’s the analytics approach.

There, Spain is at a 50-50 split.

The good? Football Outsiders credited Spain with only allowing one sack this season and only being flagged for a penalty twice in 16 starts. Not bad.

Per Pro Football Focus, the Bills could possible do better. The 28-year-old only earned a 55.9 overall grade this season from PFF’s grading system, good for the 60th best guard in the NFL. His 45.7 run blocking grade isn’t pretty, either.

But there’s also one other factor that could weigh-in on the Bills’ decision with Spain: continuity.

The Bills revamped their offensive line last offseason. It was a far-and-away better group overall than 2018, but in terms of league-wide, the Bills offensive line was likely an average crew. Keeping the group together could pay dividends, though. Another offseason together next summer could help the Bills’ offensive line gel together even further, helping the crew improve. Guard Jon Feliciano touched on that during locker cleanout day as well.

“It would be huge. Whenever you can keep the same core group of guys together… it’s hard to do that, but whenever you can do that, and keep building together, it’d be huge,”

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PHILADELPHIA — Jason Peters isn’t ready to retire.

The Eagles’ longtime left tackle said he still has the desire to play beyond Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Roughly an hour after being eliminated from the playoffs, the nine-time Pro Bowler was adamant that he could still play at a high level.

“I still can get it done,” Peters said. “If I couldn’t get it done, I’d just walk away. But I can still go.”

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Peters’ may not be able to get it done in Philadelphia for much longer.

The offensive lineman, who turns 38 later this month, is set to become a free agent in March. The Eagles selected his heir apparent, Andre Dillard, in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft.

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” Peter said, regarding his contract. “We’ll just have to see. I told [the Eagles] I want to play another year.”

Peters started the Wild-Card round matchup against the Seahawks. He also started in 13 games during the regular season.

While his play dropped off a bit from previous years, he was still able to block quarterback Carson Wentz’s blindside. He hopes to block for Wentz again before hanging up his cleats.

“I want to be here,” Peters said. “That’s all I know, but the nature of this business, sometimes they move on.”

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The Eagles acquired Peters in a 2009 trade with the Buffalo Bills.

While he battled injuries throughout his tenure, he spent 11 years with the squad, serving as one of the cornerstones of the offense.

He’s blocked for Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz. He’s played under Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson.

Most consider him to be the best offensive tackle in franchise history. It’s hard to imagine him playing for another squad.

Yet, Peters refused to say that he would only play for the Eagles next season.

“I ain’t going to say that,” Peters said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a box because if they don’t want you no more, that’s just part of the business, but I definitely want to come back a play.”

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Down by 32 points with 28 minutes remaining in the game, the Buffalo Bills staged the biggest comeback in the history of the NFL. Here is an inside look at the events that transpired on January 3, 1993, a game that will not be forgotten by the Bills…or the defeated Oilers.

NFL’s Greatest Comebacks
In the wildest of wild-card games, the Buffalo Bills, their toes hanging over the brink of playoff elimination, came back-and back, and back-to defeat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime. The issue was settled by Steve Christie’s 32-yard field goal 3:06 into the extra period, but that kick was among the least notable of the Bills’ accomplishments on January 3, 1993. The odds they overcame just to reach that point were so mammoth, so impossible, they boggle the mind.

Consider that, besides falling behind 35-3 early in the third quarter, the Bills were without starting quarterback Jim Kelly and big-play linebacker Cornelius Bennett for the whole game, and without star running back Thurman Thomas for most of the second half. Consider, too, that the Oilers-and especially their quarterback, Warren Moon-had been almost flawless through the first 32 minutes.

“How many people broadcast forever to get a signature game?” asks Todd Christensen, color analyst for NBC, whose coverage wasn’t seen in the Buffalo area because the game didn’t sell out. “[Play-by-play man] Charlie Jones was saying later that he wished we’d made a defining statement at the end, something like Al Michaels’s ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ But to me, the action said it all.”

“Naturally, when you’re down by as much as we were, you just hope that you score a couple of times and make it respectable,” Bills owner Ralph Wilson says. “You never expect a team to come back like ours did. Anybody who does is dreaming.”

This time, the dream came true, thanks to a long list of Buffalo heroes.

Frank Reich (Photo: NFL Photos) Making the first playoff start of his eight-year NFL career, backup quarterback Frank Reich had an incredible game. The same man who had led the University of Maryland to the greatest comeback in NCAA Division I-A history (over the University of Miami in 1984) completed 21 of 34 passes for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns.

After seeing his role diminished through the final 10 games of the regular season, wide receiver Andre Reed came to life with 8 receptions for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns, equaling his regular-season total for scoring catches.

Taking over at running back after Thomas left for the day with a sore hip, Kenneth Davis carried 13 times for 68 yards and a touchdown.

After a half of playing as it if never had seen a football, Buffalo’s defense held the Oilers to 3 points through the final 30 minutes. Cornerback Nate Odomes made the defensive play of the day, intercepting Moon in overtime to set up the winning points.

“I just took it one play at a time,” says Reich, who got the start after Kelly suffered a knee injury against the Oilers seven days earlier. “When you’re down by thirty-two points, you don’t really feel a lot of pressure. And as a football player, you gear your mind to not thinking how far you are behind. We’re geared to the game not being over until the final whistle blows.”

This is another look at a football miracle, through the eyes of those who made it happen.


Picking up where they left off in a 27-3 victory over Buffalo the week before at the Astrodome, the Oilers raced to a 28-3 halftime lead. Moon was phenomenal, completing 19 of his first 22 attempts for 218 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was 6 for 7 on each of the Oilers’ first two drives.

“I’ve never seen us be so effective, so efficient,” Houston wide receiver Ernest Givins says.

“Everything Moon threw up was caught,” Bills nose tackle Jeff Wright says.

“From the opening kickoff, we were backpedaling the whole time. They were hitting screens on us, they were doing draws on us. They were just moving on us, and there was nothing we could do. You sit there and think to yourself, ‘How can we turn this thing around and not be totally embarrassed?'”

“Warren came out throwing darts,” Buffalo linebacker Darryl Talley says. “He was a surgeon. He could have been a plastic surgeon that day and given nine million facelifts.”

Walt Corey, the Bills’ defensive coordinator, did some carving of his own when he addressed the members of his unit during intermission. He made his point in a colorfully phrased, two-minute tirade.

“I was hollering the same things the fans were hollering at me when we left the field,” Corey says. “I can’t repeat the words, but the more I talked, the louder I got. The thing that bothered me was their approach. To me, they looked timid. They looked like they were going to get in the right spots, but they weren’t going to make anything happen afterward. This is an attitude game. Sometimes you start playing and you’re afraid to make things happen or afraid to make a mistake.”

“With every word that came out of Walt’s mouth, he reached a new temperature level, until he finally just exploded,” Wright says. “He had every right to say the things that he said. We were embarrassing him, we were embarrassing ourselves, we were embarrassing Buffalo Bills fans.”

After Corey spoke, it was head coach Marv Levy’s turn.

“I said, ‘You’ve got thirty more minutes. Maybe it’s the last thirty minutes of your season. When your season’s over you’re going to have to live with yourselves and look yourselves in the eyes. You’d damn well better have reason to feel good about yourselves, regardless of how this game turns out.'”

Meanwhile, in the Oilers’ dressing room, Moon was stressing caution to his teammates.

“There was definitely an air of confidence in there,” Moon says. “I didn’t think anyone was getting overconfident, but there were a few guys smiling. Not laughing, but they had a look of comfort on their faces. And that’s when I started saying, ‘Remember Denver last year [when the Oilers wasted a 21-6 lead on the way to playoff elimination]? We didn’t play the full sixty minutes. Don’t let it happen again. We can’t relax, we can’t relax.’ It wasn’t that I was scared, but I just wasn’t totally comfortable that the game was out of reach. I knew the explosiveness of Buffalo, and I knew what happened to us before.”

Back in the Bills’ dressing room, Reich received an insightful message from Gale Gilbert, the Bills’ third-string passer.

“Gale came up to me and told me what I needed to hear,” Reich recalls. “He said, ‘Hey, you did it in college [guiding the Terrapins from a 31-0 deficit to a 42-40 victory]. There’s no reason why you can’t do it here.”

Five plays into the second half, there suddenly was a good reason why Reich wasn’t likely to do it that day. He threw a pass that bounced off the hands of tight end Keith McKeller and into the arms of strong safety Bubba McDowell. Fifty-eight yards later, McDowell was high-stepping into the end zone with the Oilers’ fifth touchdown.

Some fans headed for the exits. They were convinced the season was over.

“If I had been a fan, I would have gone home, too,” Bills wide receiver Don Beebe says. “Obviously, you’re thinking that this just isn’t meant to be.”

“Did I think we still had a chance?” Levy says. “Well, there was a lot of time left, so there was a glimmer of hope. But it was about the same chance as you have of winning the New York Lottery.”

Despite Moon’s warning, the Oilers turned their thoughts to the next round of the playoffs.

“I thought Bubba’s interception was icing on the cake,” cornerback Cris Dishman says. “I knew they would come back on us, but I never thought they’d overcome us.”

Oilers 35, Bills 3.

The Oilers had decided to give up the wind to start the third quarter because they wanted to have it at their backs in the fourth. With gusts at 17 miles per hour, Al Del Greco tried to squib the kickoff down the middle. But the ball hit the leg of Mark Maddox, who was on the front line of the Bills’ return team, and the young linebacker recovered at the 50.

Ten plays later, Davis ran 1 yard around left end for a touchdown.

Oilers 35, Bills 10.

At halftime, Levy had instructed his special-teams coach, Bruce DeHaven, to try an onside kick down the middle of the field the first chance he got. The Bills had practiced the play for the first time just two days before. Christie had been practicing the squib kick by himself for the previous three weeks.

“It’s a kick that works when they’ve only got five guys up front and they’re not in an onside return mode yet,” DeHaven says.

Just as Christie’s bouncing kick reached the Oilers’ Rick Graf, Buffalo’s Mark Pike crushed him with a tackle. The ball squirted free and Christie recovered-just as the play is designed-at the Buffalo 48.

Four plays later, Reich found Beebe wide open down the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Beebe had been pushed toward the sideline by Oilers cornerback Jerry Gray, and both of Beebe’s feet had been out of bounds before he came back in play to catch the pass. Expecting deep help from McDowell that never came, as well as an official to negate the play because Beebe had stepped out of bounds, Gray let up. Beebe kept going. No call was made.

“At that point, I said, ‘If we score here, we’re back in this ball game,'” Buffalo center Kent Hull says. “The crowd really got into it, and momentum shifted our way at that point. You could just feel it. I mean, we felt if we got the ball, we were going to move it. And we did.”

Oilers 35, Bills 17.

With 7:50 remaining in the third quarter, Houston’s offense finally got on the field, at its own 31. And it was here that the Bills made their first defensive stand of the day.

At halftime, Corey had decided to scrap the Dime defense that Moon had shredded in the first half, and go with a basic 3-4 alignment the rest of the way. He sat down the two extra defensive backs and replaced them with linebackers Carlton Bailey and Marvcus Patton.

“I figured, if we were going to get beat, we were going to get beat with bigger and stronger people on the field,” Corey says.

On first down, Patton nailed Webster Slaughter after a 3-yard catch. Then defensive end Phil Hansen stuffed running back Lorenzo White, followed by free safety Mark Kelso’s brilliant play to break up a deep out pass for Curtis Duncan. That set up a punt by Greg Montgomery, which, in the face of a stiff wind, traveled only 25 yards.

The Bills took over at their 41. Five plays later, Reich hit Reed on a 26-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline.

“I noticed before that play that [wide receiver] James [Lofton] had run a post pattern and they jumped on him pretty hard,” Reich says. “So I called a play where we put James on a post and Andre on an out-and-up, and sure enough, they jumped on James hard again and Andre was wide open. That’s when I thought it was within reach. If the defense kept playing the way it was playing, and we kept executing on offense, there was plenty of time to come back and win this football game.”

Now, the crowd was in a frenzy-that is, the fans who had stayed past McDowell’s interception-turned-touchdown.

Many of those who had left and were listening to the game on the radio turned around and headed back to the stadium. Because their tickets didn’t permit re-entry, they began climbing over the fences to get back in. Security guards tried to stop them at first, but they eventually relented.

Oilers 35, Bills 24.

With 3:35 remaining in the third quarter, Moon threw his first bad pass of the game, over the middle and far above the head of Slaughter. Henry Jones, the Bills’ young and opportunistic strong safety, intercepted and returned the ball 15 yards to the Houston 23.

Three plays later, the Bills faced fourth and 5 from the 18. Reich called time out to talk to Levy about whether to attempt a field goal or go for the end zone. Levy opted to try for the touchdown, which the Bills scored on another Reich-to-Reed pass.

“I told the other coaches if we hit a fourth [down], we’re going to go for it if it’s anywhere near a reasonable distance for the first down,” Levy says. “I didn’t know that we’d get a touchdown on the play, but the reasoning was that if we made the field goal, we were still down by eight. That quarter was nearly over, and we’d be going into the wind and you’d have to get very close to try a field goal in the fourth quarter.”

“Actually, Kenny Davis was going to be the primary receiver, just to pick up the first down,” Reich says. “But the coverage they were playing dictated that I could hit Andre over the middle. They were in man coverage underneath but a two-deep zone behind, and the safeties were kind of wide. Andre was able to split the middle.”

Oilers 35, Bills 31.

The teams exchanged punts into the fourth quarter before Moon guided the Oilers on a 13-play, 76-yard drive to the Buffalo 14. As Houston lined up for a field goal, there was a sudden cloud burst, to go along with the gusting wind. The snap sailed right through the hands of Montgomery, Del Greco’s holder.

“The wind blew the ball and I tried to grab it, but I couldn’t,” Montgomery says. “I’d never seen a wind blow like that. The ball was wet, but you’ve got to get the job done in that situation.”

The Bills took over at their 26 with 6:53 left. On third-and-4 from the Buffalo 32, Reich again called time out.

“I wanted to know whether we were going to go for it on fourth down if we didn’t make it,” Reich says. “Marv said we probably would. So I said, ‘If we’re going for it, why not try to run? They won’t be expecting it.'”

Davis took a handoff on the counter play, and guard Jim Ritcher and tackle Will Wolford led the way for his 35-yard gain.

Four plays later, Reich hit Reed over the middle for 17 yards and a touchdown. Reich looked left for tight end Pete Metzelaars on the play, freezing Oilers safety Marcus Robertson and allowing Reed to get open.

“I had a real good feel that whole series for what they were going to do on first downs,” Reich says. “I knew right away I wanted to go to that play. It was just a question of looking the free safety off. As I dropped back my first two or three steps, I looked at Pete. All I needed was to hold him there a second to keep the seam open.”

Bills 38, Oilers 35.

Moon managed to pull out one more drive. With 3:00 left, he used 11 plays to move the Oilers from their own 28 to the Buffalo 9. With 12 seconds left, Del Greco kicked a 26-yard field goal, sending the game into overtime.

“I was real worried at that point,” Bills guard Ritcher says. “I was standing on the sidelines thinking, ‘Well, Lord, you let us come this far. Surely you’re not going to let us lose it now, are you?'”

Bills 38, Oilers 38.

It looked as if Buffalo had run out of miracles when Houston got the ball at the start of overtime. However, on third-and-3 from the Oilers’ 27, Moon’s pass for Givins was intercepted by Nate Odomes. Givins had been legally chucked by Talley and couldn’t get to the ball.

“I wanted to go to Ernest on a whip route, but it was such a close coverage,” Moon says. “I had to put something extra on it, and it floated, it sailed. We had control of the ball game like no team ever had control of a ball game. Then, for me to throw the pick in overtime that caused us to lose…I felt doubly rotten.”

“That interception was a classic combination of pass rush and coverage,” Odomes says. “We just played a soft zone trying to bait Moon into throwing a pass like that, and it was very successful. Anytime a cornerback has the opportunity to look at the football like that, it’s a dream come true.”

Odomes’s 2-yard return, plus a 15-yard penalty on wide receiver Haywood Jeffires for tackling by the facemask, put the ball at the Oilers’ 20. Three plays later, Christie, in the first playoff game in his three NFL seasons, booted the winning points.

Bills 41, Oilers 38.

“It just goes to show you that if you fight for sixty minutes, anything can happen…you’ve just got to believe,” Talley says. “My old man told me that if you quit once, you’ll quit again. That word, quit, is not in my vocabulary.”

As Moon made the long walk off the field and up the tunnel, he thought about the impact the game would have on his family-especially on his four children who, ranging in age from 5 to 11, are increasingly sensitive to the high-profile nature of their father’s occupation.

“I carry a portable phone with me, and the first thing I did when I got on the bus [carrying the Oilers to their chartered flight back to Houston] was call home to make sure that my wife was okay-she gets very emotional and she had been crying that day-and to make sure that my kids were all right.

“All the way back on the plane, I thought about whether we should send them to school the next day because kids can really be cruel with their teasing. At first I thought maybe we should go ahead and let them face the music, which is just a part of being a celebrity’s kid. It’s going to be good when we win and bad when we lose. But this was so different, so out of the ordinary, we decided to just keep them home for a day and let some of it blow over.”

Twenty-four hours after the game, two Houston assistant coaches-defensive coordinator Jim Eddy and secondary coach Pat Thomas-were fired. While the Bills will be remembered for staging the greatest comeback in NFL history, the Oilers will be remembered for suffering the mother of all collapses.

And the pain lingers in Houston, which, in the aftermath of the loss, was subjected to ridicule on a national scale. “Late Night With David Letterman” even composed a Top 10 list of Oilers’ excuses for the defeat, with number one being: “Didn’t want to go to Disney World.”

“The fans had their feet pulled out from under them and they lost a major chunk of themselves,” says Dr. Larry Abrams, a Houston psychologist. “This feeling will pass because people tend to repress painful memories. But you’ll be hearing about this for twenty years, I’m sure.”

“When something like that happens, you fall back on your family to help you out of it,” the Oilers’ Jeffires says. “But I’ll tell you something: That sure isn’t anything I want to tell my grandkids about.”

Reich, on the other hand, will be re-telling the story for years to come.

“Without question, it’s the game of my life,” he says. “I was pretty emotional when I got to the locker room. I just couldn’t hold the tears back.”

It was Reich’s tremendous composure on the field that made the biggest difference for the Bills.

“Frank is a person of high character,” Levy says. “He’s a well-rounded family man who is deeply religious. Sometimes, the guy who has other things in his life doesn’t clutch up. It makes him able to retain an equilibrium.”

“I’ve always felt as though my whole stint in Buffalo has been a divine appointment,” Reich says. “I have two little kids, and when I see my children playing a game together I don’t care who wins that game. I’m their father. What’s important to me is that there’s character being built and they’re learning the lessons that come along with that activity. I think God looks at us the same way. I think the football game is insignificant to Him. But what is significant is that we learn what He wants us to learn out of that game, win or lose.”

The lesson of what took place at Rich Stadium on January 3, 1993, is simple: Never give up, no matter how dark the gathering clouds, because something un-BILL-ievable just might happen.
This article on the January 3, 1993 AFC Wild Card Game between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Oilers is reprinted from the 1993 season preview issu