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The Buffalo Bills came into the 2021 season as one of the league’s Super Bowl favorites. During a four-game win streak early in the season where the Bills outscored their opponents 156-41, they looked like it. During an embarrassing 9-6 loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, they did not. The team is now peaking heading into the playoffs, though, and head coach Sean McDermott shared what happened during a pivotal halftime break in Week 14 to make that happen.

The Buffalo Bills looked down and out at halftime of their Week 14 game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In Week 14, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were manhandling the Buffalo Bills. The AFC East squad was about to drop to 7-6 on the season. This came just a week after the Bills’ “embarrassing” loss to the New England Patriots, where the winning team threw just three times all game.  

Traveling to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa next week, the Bills came out looking lackluster once again. Tom Brady jumped out on the Bills. He lead three touchdown drives in the first half and added a field goal for a 24-3 halftime lead.

In the first two quarters, Josh Allen was 12-of-20 for 130 yards passing with an interception. Brady was 19-of-26 for 216 yards and both a rushing and passing TD.

Then the Bills went into the locker room and came out a different team.

In the second half, Allen was 23-of-32 for 175 yards and two TDs and added 66 yards and a rushing TD on the ground. The Bills D held Brady, on the other hand, to 8-of-16 for 76 yards passing.

Buffalo outscored Tampa Bay 24-3 in the second half to force overtime.

The Bills ultimately took the L that day, though. The Bucs signal-caller pulled out some patented Brady vs. the Bills magic and hit receiver Breshad Perriman in a 58-yard TD strike in OT.

Despite the heartbreaking ending, the Buffalo Bills seemed to have found something that day in Florida. The team has wheeled off three consecutive wins since. 

Head coach Sean McDermott shared what happened in the locker room to turn the season around

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott joined the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football show ahead of Week 18, and the first question that co-host Kyle Brandt asked him was, “what did you find that day [in Tampa Bay] that’s changed how the season’s going?”

McDermott then shared how the feeling around the team changed that fateful afternoon:

I think, really, it’s the first time I sensed our leaders as a group really step up and take control of the situation. That was the first time this season where I’ve felt that synergy, that vibe, that energy — if you will — of us playing together as a team. And it was great to see.

Sean McDermott on the Buffalo Bills turning the season around in Tampa Bay

If the Bills and the team leaders (especially QB Josh Allen) have their 2020 mojo back heading into the end of the 2021 season, that is an excellent thing for the team.

Yes, it’s been a very inconsistent, up and down season in Orchard Park, but the old cliché is true. It’s not about how you start. It’s how you finish that counts.

If Buffalo can finish off the season with a home win vs. the 4-12 (but recently frisky) New York Jets, they will win the AFC East and host their first playoff game. That would be a great accomplishment for a team that was once shockingly fluttering around .500, but it is just the first step to get where they want to go.

What do the playoffs have in store for the Buffalo Bills? 

Head coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills on the sideline against the Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.
Buffalo Bills Head coach Sean McDermott | Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

The AFC playoff picture isn’t completely set yet. However, it looks like the Buffalo Bills will see at least four AFC playoff teams (out of six) that they faced in the regular season.

Heading into Week 18, the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and New England Patriots are all playoff locks. These teams also all played Buffalo this season. The only division-winner the Bills didn’t play is the Cincinnati Bengals.

The last two Wild Card spots will go to two of the following four teams: the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, or Pittsburgh Steelers. This season, the Bills played the Colts and Steelers, but not the Raiders or Chargers.

Outside of Kansas City (which was struggling at the time), these familiar teams have given Buffalo most of its losses this season. This includes in Week 1 (Steelers 23, Bills 16), Week 6 (Titans 34, Bills 31), Week 11 (Colts 41, Bills 15), and Week 13 (Patriots 14, Bills 10).

If the standings stay the way they are now and the games go to form, the Bills will be looking at the Patriots or Colts in round one. Then, they’ll get some combination of the Titans and Chiefs gauntlet if they hope to reach the Super Bowl.

To get through this, it’s going to take more than “synergy,” “vibe,” and “energy.” It’s going to take stout defense without All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll stepping up and finding some running-game balance, and a Herculean effort from Josh Allen.

The good news for Bills fans is, they are peaking at the right time. If they can stay on this trajectory they could, once again, become a true Super Bowl contender.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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