It’s the moment Buffalo Bills fans have waited for. Super Wildcard Weekend is here and the team couldn’t be more excited.
The Buffalo Bills enter as the number two seed in the AFC after clinching their fourth straight AFC East title last Sunday at the Miami Dolphins.
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter as the last seed or the number 7th seed, after just getting into the playoffs with a win over the now-rested Baltimore Ravens last Saturday night. The talk all week long is that the Buffalo Bills are the heavy favorites.
The Steelers are without starting (QB) Kenny Pickett and star (DE) T.J. Watt which is a big loss for the Steeler’s defense.
Rudolph is Coming to Town (Mason Rudolph that is)
Yes, folks, Christmas and the holidays have come and gone, but guess what, Rudolph is coming to Orchard Park. I don’t mean the famous Red-Nosed Reindeer Santa wanted to guide his sleigh.
I’m talking Steelers (QB) Mason Rudolph, who will get the start at quarterback for the black and yellow against the Buffalo Bills in this crucial playoff game.
Hopefully, the Buffalo Bills defense takes care of business, so that this Rudolph doesn’t also go down in history. Bills history, not holiday history.
In his last three starts, Rudolph has come alive as Woody and Buzz do in Toy Story every time Andy leaves the room. While he has thrown for an effective 239 passing yards a game, he has thrown for an eye-popping (0) interceptions.
This means Rudolph has managed the game quite well, while the offense entirely has scored 30 points or more in two of their previous three contests.
The guys around him have stepped up to help the quarterback while increasing their individual play. Tailback Najee Harris has rushed for 104 yards on 24 touches during the last three games, while (WR) George Pickens has tallied 108 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
The Buffalo Bills/Stopping the Run
While the Steelers have an adequate passing attack, what has defined Steelers football over the years, is their ability to just find the running back and “pound the rock” to wear out an 11-man defense.
This year is no exception as Harris started the year poorly, but since then, he and second-year back Jaylen Warren have formed a solid 1-2 punch on the ground and the team does a great job burning time off the clock when on offense.
If the Bills are going to win this game, they must be able to stop the Steeler’s run game from getting into a rhythm which means you line up all of your defense and have all 11 guys swarm and tackle Harris or Warren depending on who is going into the game at that moment.
The Bills boast the number five rushing defense in the league, only allowing 96 yards on the ground since week 14.
Can the Buffalo Bills make it Six in a Row?
The Buffalo Bills have won five consecutive games since their last loss in Week 12 to the Philadelphia Eagles back on Nov 26. The Bills knew they had to take it one game at a time to just keep winning and let the cards fall where they may.
Finally, on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, the Buffalo Bills earned that, “oh so sweet”, victory against the Miami Dolphins to clinch the AFC East title for the fourth straight year. The Bills seem to have that “hidden” talent available to make that key play when needed.
Earlier in the game, the Bills caught a lucky break as a pass from (QB) Josh Allen to the endzone was tipped up into the air and somehow reeled in by reserve (WR) Trent Sherfield who was also an ex-Dolphin. This tied the score at 7.
The Bills special teams got it done late. With the Bills down 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, (KR/WR) Deonte Harty caught a punt from the 5-yard line and took it to the house 95 yards to tie the score at 14.
This ended up being the longest punt return in Buffalo Bills history, while earning Harty Special Teams Player of the Week.
Taylor Rapp called game. ?
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 8, 2024
With the Bills up 21-14 and needing one more defensive stop, Bills (S) Taylor Rapp came up with the biggest play of the game, as he ended up with the game-clinching interception off a deep pass from Dolphin (QB) Tua Tagovailoa.
While the Bills are 4-1 at home since the 2020 season in playoff games, let’s hope they can make it 5-1 on Sunday and keep the streak alive!
Let’s Go Buffalo!