ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 28: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass in the second quarter on Thanksgiving Day during a game against the Dallas Cowboys at NRG Stadium on November 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
A Look Back at The 2021 PML Super Bowl Champions: The Buffalo Bills
When the Bills began the season 2-4, many Buffalo fans began writing this season off as another one lost to mediocrity. The great people of Bills Mafia have long been waiting for the glory of a Lombardi Trophy, ever since the days of Jim Kelly in the 90s as they suffered through 4 consecutive super bowl losses in search for their first NFL championship. Then after all of that disappointment, the Bills fans had to suffer through a playoff drought that lasted almost 2 decades, not reaching the playoffs a single time from 1999 to 2017. So, a 2-4 start to the season seemed only fitting and it was business as usual for the city of Buffalo to lose their buildup of offseason optimism by early October in the season.
Then, the Bills ownership decided to make a change that even they likely couldn’t envision the immediate impact of. Heading into their week 7 bye week of the 2021 season following 2 embarrassing defeats to divisional opponents, the Patriots and the Dolphins, Bills ownership cleaned house and brought in an entire new coaching staff and front office lead by Head Coach & General Manager Nick Arbuckle. Arbuckle was targeted as their new guy because of his past history with developing great quarterbacks, and the success of the Bills was gonna hinge on whether or not Josh Allen could take that next step of becoming the franchise quarterback the city needs. Arbuckle brought with him a new playbook, a new offensive and defensive scheme, and a hard emphasis on winning every phase of the game. They began looking for small advantages on the field anywhere that he could find them that could give the Bills that one play in the game that could make the difference between winning and losing.
This new system in Buffalo brought immediate success, propelling the Bills from a 2-4 record and a dismal hope for the season, to a 12-4 record and the hottest team headed into the playoffs in 2021. However, there still existed a lot of doubt that a new coach could come into the league and succeed in the playoffs where the lights and pressure get turned on. But the Bills answered the call. In their first preseason game against the Titans in a wildcard rematch of week 15. The Bills made very quick work of the Titans in this game though, proving quickly to everyone that they weren’t just going to fold under the playoffs pressure. It took only a quarter and a half for the Bills to jump out to a 28-7 lead, and then they continue to pile on extending their lead to 4 possessions early in the 2nd half. Josh Allen put on an incredible playoff performance against the Titans while the defense shutdown Derek Henry and Aaron Rodgers, holding the Titans offense to under 250 total yards and coming away with a 51-10 victory and putting the AFC on notice.
That victory and a Ravens defeat set up the most anticipated showdown of the year. When the coach Arbuckle took over the Bills, they had already played the Patriots both times for the season. The Patriots head coach is a 5 time super bowl winner and went undefeated in the 2020 season. Everyone around the league was waiting on seeing these new unbeaten Bills face off against the original best team in the league. This matchup didn’t disappoint, as the game was back and forth in the first half and every time the Bills looked to be pulling away, a costly turnover kept the Patriots in it. Despite moving the ball at will against the Patriots, 3 Redzone turnovers kept the score very close for 3 quarters. However, the Patriots just couldn’t find consistency on offense, only managing 10 offensive points until the final 4 minutes of the game. A quick sequence of scores and an interception by the Bills defense gave Buffalo a 17 point lead in the final minutes of the game that the Patriots couldn’t overcome with such little time despite their best efforts of scoring twice against the Bills prevent defense. It ended up being too little too late and Buffalo was up to the task of their biggest challenge of the season, and were headed on the road to Southern California to play against the AFC’s #1 seed.
The AFC Championship game was the highest scoring game in NFL History. It was the first time in any playoff game where both teams scored over 50 points. This game had absolutely everything that fans could every want. 2 young quarterbacks went at it making big plays and throwing for over 750 combined yards and 7 combined passing touchdowns.
This high scoring affair featured multiple 2nd half lead changes, and at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Bills found themselves down by 10 points, but there was no lack of faith or frustration on their sideline. The Bills knew that it was gonna be a long 4th quarter and all they had to do was get some points on their next drive and make some defensive adjustments. And that’s exactly what they did. Buffalo opened up the 4th quarter with possession of the ball and drove down the field with a quick touchdown and brought their deficit to 3 points. The next drive on defense, Levi Wallace picked off a pass from Herbert and returned it for a touchdown, and just like that the Bills made a quick 4th quarter comeback to and turned a 10 point deficit to a 4 point lead in no time. The Bills weren’t finished yet, as Micah Hyde intercepted a deep pass attempt on the very next drive, Herbert’s 4th interception of the game. The Bills kept their foot on the gas pedal as they drove the length of the field with a balance of runs and passes to keep the clock moving and they capped off the drive with a FG with under 4 minutes left in the game to take a 7 point lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Bills special teams unit came through with the biggest play of the game and forced a fumble on the Chargers kick returner, recovering it in field goal range. The Bills were able to take the clock under 2 minutes while the Chargers burned 2 of their timeouts and Buffalo extended the lead to 10 points, making a comeback very unlikely. The Chargers went down fighting though, marching the field for a TD in the final moments of the game but failing to recover the onside kick attempt, sending the Bills to their first super bowl appearance sine 1993.
The Buffalo Bills carried a 13 game win streak and an undefeated record under coach Arbuckle into the 2021 Super Bowl. The game featured two high powered passing attacks in the Bills and the Washington Football Team. Quarterbacks Josh Allen and Dwayne Haskins came into the game as gunslingers, throwing for tons of yards and touchdowns but not being strangers to interceptions either. However, Josh Allen ended this super bowl with the greatest statistical performance by any quarterback in super bowl history. Allen completed his first 19 consecutive pass attempts and finished with a QB rating over 150. He completed 32 of 37 attempts, a 87% completion percentage, throwing for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns with ZERO interceptions. Allen heard what all of the critics were saying about his carelessness with the football and tendency to make a few bone headed decisions per game, and he decided to turn that around on the biggest stage of his career. The Bills were in control of the Super Bowl from start to finish, never allowing the Football Team to take the lead during the game. The Bills were not only lead by their flawless offensive performance, but also a defense that forced 3 interceptions and a special teams unit that scored a kickoff return TD. The Bills truly showed up and showed out in all 3 phases of the game in their biggest game, and they captured the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history with a 45-31 Victory over the Washington Football Team.
The Bills go into the offseason with an unbelievable 14 game win streak and a super bowl win, carrying more momentum than anyone in the league going into 2022. The Bills are still a young team, having only 4 starters on their 2021 super bowl roster that were over 28 years old. If the Bills can make some splashes in free agency to add even more pieces to their team, they can definitely be in prime position for a run at defending their title. This will be the final year the Bills have before they have to pay Jos Allen a mega-contract that will be detrimental to their roster-building potential. We will see if the Bills take advantage of this last hooray of a stacked roster.