CAPACCIO: Bills-Dolphins: Arrow Up/Arrow Down

January 1, 2018

It’s over.  The longest postseason drought in North American professional sports has finally come to an end, and in the most dramatic of ways anyone could have ever envisioned.  The Bills took care of their business in South Florida.  Then they got the help they needed from the Cincinnati Bengals, who had an incredibly dramatic win over the Baltimore Ravens.  But now, no more scoreboard watching.  No more relying on other teams to help.  The Bills are going to the playoffs.  Let’s start with the Arrows Up, of course:


DT/RB Kyle Williams

Not only is Williams going to the playoffs for the first time in his thirteen year career, all with the Bills, he added an exclamation point to what might have been his final regular season game when he scored a touchdown on a handoff from the one yard line.  The unquestioned emotional leader of the team also finished with three tackles and a QB hurry on defense.

QB Tyrod Taylor

Taylor ran the offense exactly as he needed to, remaining poised and smooth most of the way, especially in the first half when he was 13-for-20 for 153 yards and a TD.  He didn’t have to do much in the second half, but went 6-for-7 over the next thirty minutes and finished the day 19-for-27 for 204 yards and a touchdown.  He also added 35 yards rushing.

RB Marcus Murphy

Murphy was elevated from the practice squad just this past Tuesday when Travaris Cadet was placed on Injured Reserve.  He promptly stepped in and stepped up, carrying the ball seven times for 41 yards (a 5.9 average).  

RB Mike Tolbert

Tolbert had to be relied upon to carry the load on the ground after LeSean McCoy left the game with an ankle injury early in the second half.  He delivered, running the ball seven times for 39 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.  He even ran over a few Dolphins along the way.

TE Charles Clay

Another game against the Dolphins, another time Clay gets an Arrow Up.  He has his best games against his former team, and this one was no exception, catching a team high six passes for 64 yards and some key third down conversions.

First drive for offense

Once again, for the second time in three weeks, the Bills had a solid opening drive against the Dolphins.  On this one they kept the ball for seven plays, covered 67 yards, and capped it off with a beautiful play call and execution on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Nick O’Leary.  It set the tone for the rest of the game.

Third down offense

The Bills converted four of their eight third down opportunities in the first half.  They finished with a healthy 42%, going 5-for-12 overall.

LB Preston Brown

Brown was the only player on the field with double-digit tackles, collecting twelve of them on the day. 

CB EJ Gaines

The Bills are a much better team when Gaines is healthy and in the lineup, and that showed again Sunday.  He finished as the team’s second-leading tackler with eight, but also added two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

LB Ramon Humber

Humber lost his starting job to Matt Milano a few weeks ago, but he still plays valuable snaps.  And he made them count in this one, collecting five total tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, and a QB hurry.

The Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals did it! The Bills’ only hope to make it to the postseason after both the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers won came through in an incredibly dramatic and improbable way.  I’ll let the Bills Twitter feed tell you how they felt about it:

Thank you, @Bengals.

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018


Bills fans

As usual, the Bills’ fan contingent was strong in Miami.  But Sunday they literally took over Hard Rock Stadium and made it feel more like a home game than a road game.  But this Arrow Up isn’t just for those fans who were there.  It’s for everyone.  For sticking through this drought.  For still being there.  For going crazy at bars from New York City to Texas to California when Cincy scored their TD, and sharing the moment on social media with so many other Bills’ fans around the country so that everyone can experience this together. It’s for everyone who ever had to stick up for their city and team while the rest of the country found new ways to make fun of them.  Your week is FINALLY here.  Enjoy it.  Celebrate it.  You’ve earned it.


I could have found a few things for this.  Like not recovering an onside kick once again at the end of the game against the Dolphins.  Or not finishing off a team much earlier that had nothing to play for.  Or allowing Jarvis Landry to catch nine passes for 92 yards and a TD.  Or only having one sack the entire game, even though there were plenty of chances to get to the QB.  Or only converting one of three red zone trips into touchdowns.  I could point all of that out, but I won’t.  This column is dedicated to celebrating the biggest day for the organization in seventeen years.


There’s not much more to say here than I already did.  And a lot more to come this week here on this site and on the radio on WGR.  It’s been seventeen years.  Just think about what your life was like the last time the Bills were in the playoffs.  And remember that game?  That score?  Thanks to “lifewithmikey52” on Twitter for pointing out it was the exact same score as the final Sunday in Miami. What an odd coincidence.

The final score of the dolphins Bills game was the same as the music city miracle

— Mike Monaghan (@lifewithmikey52) January 1, 2018

The Bills will play at the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at 1 PM.

The #NFLPlayoffs are set!

— NFL (@NFL) January 1, 2018

Drink up, Buffalo.  The drought is over!

Follow me on Twitter @SalSports