Buffalo Bills clinch playoff berth for third straight season

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills are returning to the playoffs for the fourth time in the team's five years under coach Sean McDermott after clinching a postseason berth with their 29-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams' 20-19 comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

"That's what we expect," McDermott said. "That's what we talk about since day one. But I don't want to get too far ahead of us. Let's keep our focus where it needs to be, which is right in front of us."

The Bills can now clinch the AFC East division title with a win over the New York Jets (4-12) at home in Week 18. Winning the division for a second straight year would mark the first time the Bills have done so in back-to-back years since 1988 to 1991. A New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins next week would also give Buffalo the division.

The victory over the Falcons was thanks to the emergence of the Bills' rushing game in the second half. Quarterback Josh Allen and running back Devin Singletary each rushed for two touchdowns, and the Bills had a season-high 233 rushing yards. Individually, Singletary had a career-high 110 rushing yards and his first multi-rushing touchdown game of his career.

"I urge you guys to watch [Singletary] on every single play, whether he's got the ball or not," Allen said. "He continues to go find work down the field, follow the ball, pick up guys when they're on the ground, and that's how you should play the game of football."

Allen had one of his worst career passing performances statistically, completing 11 of 26 passes for 120 yards and three interceptions. Allen is the first Bills starting quarterback to throw three interceptions and win since Drew Bledsoe in Week 12 of the 2004 season. He is also the first player to throw zero passing touchdowns, three interceptions and rush for two touchdowns since Mike Vick in 2005 against the Jets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The defense also came up big when the Bills needed it most, holding the Falcons to zero points and 59 net yards in the second half. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a costly taunting penalty in the fourth quarter on an apparent touchdown play that was called back, contributing to the scoreless second half.

"It takes all three phases to win the game," center Mitch Morse said. "I think there was points in every part of this game where one phase had to pick up the other. And it wasn't perfect at times, but towards the end, we were moving the ball, defense was putting us in great position, special teams, we got good returns, we got good blocks."

Now sitting at 10-6, Buffalo has had three straight 10-win seasons for the first time since it had at least 10 in four straight seasons from 1990 to 1993. The push to make the playoffs was assisted by a 33-21 win over the New England Patriots last week.

Buffalo entered Week 17 with a 99% chance of making the playoffs, per ESPN's Football Power Index. The Bills are most likely to finish with the No. 3 seed in the AFC (65.9% chance, per the FPI, entering Week 17). With the outcomes of Sunday's games, Buffalo does not have a chance at the No. 1 seed in the conference, but could go as high as No. 2.

"Everything we want is in front of us," Allen said. "I know a few weeks back, it seemed pretty dull, but again, we've got guys in this locker room that just want to help this team win, no matter what way they can, and you see it pay off on the field."