Sun Dec 15 11:51pm ET
By DAN SCIFO
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft (81) celebrates with running back Devin Singletary (26) and others after scoring on a pass from quarterback Josh Allen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft (81) scores on a pass from quarterback Josh Allen, running near Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34), during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft (81) celebrates his touchdown on a pass from quarterback Josh Allen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) intercepts a Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges pass intended for Diontae Johnson (18) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) scores during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) strips the ball from Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (26) and the Steelers recovered during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) scores with Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) defending during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) and cornerback Taron Johnson (24) go after a turnover by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. The Bills recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges calls signals during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary, second from right, is stopped short of the goal line by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Mark Barron, right, outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, left, during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, center, scores on a 1-yard run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. Allen fumbled on the play. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Josh Allen threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft with 7:55 to play and the Buffalo Bills clinched a playoff spot, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 on Sunday night.
The Bills secured their second playoff berth in two seasons under coach Sean McDermott, a college teammate with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin at William & Mary. Buffalo trailed 10-7, but scored on two possessions in the fourth quarter, as Allen rallied the Bills for a comeback win for the fifth time this season. Consecutive interceptions by Jordan Poyer and Levi Wallace on Pittsburgh's last two possessions sealed the victory.
The surging Steelers had an opportunity to leapfrog the Bills for the top AFC wildcard spot, but Buffalo snapped Pittsburgh's three-game win streak.
Buffalo won for the fourth time in five games and recorded its first 10-win season since 1999. The Bills also beat the Steelers for the second time ever in Pittsburgh, first since a 21-point win in the 1993 AFC Divisional playoff round.
The Bills, who improved to 6-1 on the road, made their first Sunday night appearance in 12 years when they were dismantled by the Patriots in a 46-point loss.
Not this group, led by a No. 3-ranked defense and an opportunistic offense.
The Bills no longer resemble the inept franchise with a revolving door of coaches, general managers and quarterbacks that struggled through a 17-year playoff drought before McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane arrived.
Allen completed 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Allen, who also rushed for a score, has only lost consecutive games once in his career. Kroft scored his first touchdown since 2017 when he played for Cincinnati. Devin Singletary rushed for 87 yards and John Brown caught seven passes for 99 yards. He became Buffalo's first 1,000-yard receiver since 2015.
The Steelers entered with wins in seven of their last eight games since a 1-4 start.
Devlin Hodges completed 23 of 38 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Hodges had a chance to become the first undrafted rookie in the Super Bowl era to win his first four starts.
James Conner played for the first time since missing five of the last six games with a shoulder injury. He finished with 42 yards rushing and caught a touchdown pass.
Pittsburgh scored on the first drive of the second half to take a 10-7 lead.
Hodges opened the series with a 31-yard pass to Diontae Johnson and Conner broke off a 17-yard run, setting up his 11-yard touchdown reception two plays later. The 69-yard touchdown drive came after Pittsburgh totaled 64 yards in the first half.
Tre'Davious White returned his second interception of the game 49 yards to the Pittsburgh 18 late in the third quarter. The Bills couldn't capitalize with a touchdown and instead settled for a 36-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka to tie it.
The Bills took a 17-10 lead on their next possession.
Allen connected with Brown for a 40-yard gain one play after a Pittsburgh punt. Five plays later, Allen found Kroft at the front pylon for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Allen's 1-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second quarter opened the scoring.
Allen's ninth score also established a new single-season franchise record for touchdowns rushing by a quarterback. Buffalo took advantage of a short field following a 22-yard punt and converted a fourth down during the 40-yard series.
Pittsburgh trailed 7-3 when Steven Nelson picked off Allen late in the second quarter. A facemask set Pittsburgh up with first-and-goal from the 10, but Johnson fumbled and the Bills recovered to preserve a four-point halftime lead.
NOTES: Allen tied Doug Flutie for the most consecutive games accounting for a touchdown by a Bills quarterback with 20. ... T.J. Watt is the first player in Steelers history with multiple 13-sack seasons. ... Pittsburgh registered at least one sack in 55 straight games, the longest in regular-season franchise history. ... Chris Boswell kicked his 125th career field goal, fourth-most in Steelers history. ... The matchup featured the first trio of brothers - Pittsburgh's Trey and Terrell Edmunds and Buffalo's Tremaine Edmunds - to appear in the same game since 1927.
Bills: Travel to New England on Saturday.
Steelers: Visit the New York Jets on Sunday.
Interview with a Champ
The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen on Monday as their new offensive coordinator, according to a source. Steichen was key in the development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in 2020. New head coach Nick Sirianni and Steichen worked together with the Chargers for four years until Sirianni left for the Colts in 2018. Steichen started coaching in the NFL in Cleveland in 2013 as a quality control coach. He left for San Diego the following season and was their quality control coach for 2014-15. The 35-year-old took over the Chargers offense last season and helped nurture Herbert to a record-setting rookie season. Steichen will try and help Carson Wentz rebuild after the worst season of his career.
New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi is expected to become the new offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, according to sources. New head coach Brandon Staley played under Lombardi for one year at Mercyhurst University in 2005 when Lombardi was the offensive coordinator. Lombardi is the grandson of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi and was the offensive coordinator for the Lions in 2014-15, but he was fired after a 1-6 start in his second year. He started his NFL career as a defensive assistant with the Falcons in 2006 before being hired by the Saints as an offensive assistant in 2007. Lombardi spent 12 seasons working with head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans and has also tutored QBs Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston in recent seasons. He'll be tasked with working with Justin Herbert, who became the youngest QB in history to throw 30 touchdowns in his rookie season.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was uncertain about his future after the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship on Sunday. The 37-year-old is expected to win the MVP this year and is under contract through the 2023 season via the $134 million extension he signed in 2018. But the Packers also drafted Jordan Love, Rodgers' possible replacement, in the first round last year. Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions in the regular season in 2020, but he also became the first QB in NFL history to lose four straight appearances in a conference championship. If Green Bay were to move on from Rodgers this offseason, they'd save just $4.76 million on the salary cap and would have $31.556 million in dead money. Rodgers may be contemplating retirement, but the Packers want him back and he'd be a high-end QB1 if he does return after going 33-for-48 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the loss to Tampa to end the season.
The Los Angeles Chargers are hiring Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill as their new defensive coordinator on Monday, according to sources. Hill worked with head coach Brandon Staley in Denver in 2019 and played in the league for a decade. Staley said last week that he will be making the defensive play calls in his first season as head coach in LA. Hill will be replacing Gus Bradley, who left to become the defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Hill will help oversee a defense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year and features three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa, rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and standout safety Derwin James, who missed all of 2020 with a knee injury.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could sign an extension this offseason, according to general manager Eric DeCosta, who will begin talks with Jackson in 10 days.
Fantasy Spin: Jackson ended up the QB10 in traditional leagues as he missed a game due to COVID-19. With the emergence of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and others, the position has become pretty loaded. Dak Prescott (leg) is expected back to join the flux of QB1s. A midrange QB1 is probably where Jackson is supposed to be considering the plights he faces through the air. Don't overdraft him for the rushing numbers next season because the gap has narrowed.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen completed 28 of his 48 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and rushed seven times for 88 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. RB Devin Singletary was bottled up, rushing for 17 yards and six carries and gaining nine yards on two catches. WR Cole Beasley had seven grabs for 88 yards, WR Stefon Diggs had six receptions on 11 targets for 77 yards, and TE Dawson Knox caught six balls for 42 yards and a touchdown. WR Isaiah McKenzie caught a six-yard touchdown pass on his only reception, and RB T.J. Yeldon had seven touches for 56 total yards. S Jordan Poyer led the defense with eight tackles, including six solo stops.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill put together another strong performance on Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill caught nine of his 11 targets for a team high 172 yards against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill wasn't able to get a touchdown in this contest, but he was dominant nonetheless. Hill has had a phenomenal season and he will look to keep that going versus a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in Super Bowl 55. He remains one of the best at his position and will be a top option for those participating in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes completed 29 of his 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. WR Tyreek Hill had nine catches for 172 yards, and TE Travis Kelce had 13 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. WR Mecole Hardman had two catches for four yards and a score to go along with a 50-yard run and a lost fumble on special teams. RB Darrel Williams rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown and added one catch for nine yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had six carries for seven yards and a score. LB Frank Clark recorded a pair of sacks, and S Juan Thornhill broke up four passes.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored a touchdown in his return to action versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. The rookie player a minor role on Sunday with Darrel Williams being the featured back and Le'Veon Bell (knee) inactive. CEH picked up just seven yards on six carries and caught one of his two targets for zero yards, but it was good to see him return to action for the first time since injuring his ankle and hip in Week 15. Edwards-Helaire will now have two weeks to rest up before facing a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in the Super Bowl and he should be avoided in DFS for that contest.
Kansas City Chiefs running Darrel Williams rushed the ball 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Williams has performed well with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined, but the rookie returned on Sunday and figures to play a bigger role in the future. Williams will also have to compete with Le'Veon Bell (knee) who was inactive on Sunday and could return for the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are a pass heavy team and will face a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense Super Bowl 55. That will make Williams a risky option in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped lead his two to their second consecutive Super Bowl with a victory against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Mahomes was his usual self and completed 29 of his 38 pass attempts for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed the ball five times for five yards. Mahomes is now the only player in NFL history to reach three straight championship games before the age of 26 and will now go to his second straight Super Bowl. Mahomes is putting up legendary numbers in his young career and he will square off against Tom Brady and a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense for the chance to win his second Super Bowl ring in two weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end had a monster night versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Kelce has been setting all kinds of records this season and he has now jumped Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving yards in a season that includes the postseason for a tight end. Kelce had 13 catches on 15 targets for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kelce remains the top option with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs and he should be expected to play a big role in the Super Bowl versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kelce remains the top tight end option in the league and he will be one of the safer options in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman had himself a day versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hardman had a rough start to the contest by dropping a punt that would lead to a Bills touchdown, but salvaged his day by catching two of his three targets for a 3-Yard touchdown and four total yards on the evening. He also picked up 50 yards on his lone carry. Hardman is an exciting player, but remains a shaky play for managers with the Chiefs having so many options on offense. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) also sat out this contest and his return would factor into Hardman's snap count. Hardman is always capable of breaking a big play and he will look to do that versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce went over 100 receiving yards in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. He became the first tight end in NFL history with five postseason games of 100 or more receiving yards.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense played another strong game in a 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Tampa Bay sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, forcing one interception and a fumble in the huge win. The Buccaneers' pass rush was fueled by two players- linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had three sacks and four quarterback hits, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks. Rising star Devin White led the team in tackles with 15, as he was a thorn in the side of the Packers' offensive plans all game long. Tampa Bay's defense will have its hands full in the Super Bowl against either Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, though this unit is playing some excellent football at the right time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski caught just one pass for 29 yards in his team's 31-26 win over the Packers. Gronkowski went catch-less through three quarters before picking up 29 yards on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Tampa Bay for a field goal. The former Patriot has nearly been an every-down player for the Buccaneers in the playoffs but has done little as a pass-catcher, as he's taken a backseat to fellow tight end Cameron Brate. No stranger to the big game, Gronkowski will get a chance to redeem himself in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate played a key role in another playoff victory for his team. Brate produced just 19 total yards, though he caught a third-quarter touchdown that helped extend the Buccaneers' lead to 28-10. The Harvard product exceeded 50 yards just once in the regular season but has accomplished the feat twice in Tampa Bay's three playoff wins. Tom Brady clearly has a trust for Brate as a pass-catcher, something that appears likely to continue as Tampa Bay prepares to be the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. He will have two weeks to recover before Super Bowl LV.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller saw extended playing time with Antonio Brown (knee) sidelined and made the most of it. Miller caught two passes for 36 receiving yards and a touchdown in the NFC title game victory. He came up with a huge play at the very end of the first half, hauling in a 39-yard bomb from Tom Brady with just seconds left until halftime. Miller has shown a knack for making big plays when given the playing time, as he has three scores this year of 30 yards or more. His services may not be needed in the Super Bowl if Antonio Brown (knee) is healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin enjoyed a strong game in Sunday's NFC title game win over Green Bay. Godwin hauled in five of a team-high nine targets for 110 receiving yards. He came up with a huge, 52-yard grab that led to a Leonard Fournette touchdown in the first half. Godwin has exceeded 70 receiving yards in four of his last five contests and has led the Buccaneers in targets in each of their three playoff wins. While Antonio Brown (knee) will have a good chance of returning in time for the Super Bowl, Godwin should remain Brady's top target for the big game in Tampa Bay.