Amid the dancing, screaming, hugs and high-fives in the Buffalo Bills’ locker room, defensive tackle Kyle Williams watched his two young sons climbing around in his stall.
“What do you think, boys?” Williams shouted. “Where are we going? The playoffs. Yeah.”
His sons are only six and four. For their dad and most Buffalo fans, Sunday was a long time coming.
The Bills snapped the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports, making the post-season for the first time since 1998-1999.
They avoided elimination by beating Miami 22-16 and clinched an American Football Conference wild-card berth minutes later when Cincinnati rallied past Baltimore.
The Bills watched the dramatic finish of the Bengals game on locker room TVs and then erupted.
“Everybody went crazy,” said Williams, who is in his 12th and perhaps final season with the Bills. “I’ve been a wreck for 10 to 15 minutes.”
Buffalo (9-7) travel to face Jacksonville and former Bills coach Doug Marrone on Sunday.
Marrone resigned as Bills coach three years ago on Sunday.
The Bills’ joy was tempered by the loss of 1,000-yard rusher LeSean McCoy with an ankle injury. He was carted off the field in the third quarter, and was in a walking boot and tears after the game.
“Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it seemed,” quarterback Tyrod Taylor said.
The frustration of a disappointing season got the best of the Dolphins (6-10) with 6 minutes, 21 seconds left when receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Kenyan Drake and offensive lineman Jake Brendel were ejected following a fight.
Landry was cited for disrespecting an official and Drake for throwing his helmet 20 yards in anger.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were handed to both teams.
The undisciplined Dolphins, who went into the game with the second-most penalties in the NFL, had 14 for 145 yards.
Meanwhile, for the Bills, 17 seasons of frustration ended.
“The locker room is electric, man,” said guard Richie Incognito, who finished a season above .500 for the first time in his 11-year career. “We have been working so hard for this. So much has been said about it and now the monkey is off our back. We’re in the post-season and we’ve got new life.”
Buffalo punctuated the memorable victory with a one-yard touchdown run by Williams for the first score of his career.
“I thought: ‘Try not to screw it up. They’re not going to call it again if I screw it up,’” Williams said.
He and his teammates celebrated with choreographed back flops in the end zone.
“I was a little surprised at the touchdown celebration,” Taylor said. “I was the only one who wasn’t aware of falling down.”
Golf great Jack Nicklaus wore Bills gear and a smile watching from the stands as his grandson, tight end Nick O’Leary, caught Taylor’s 26-yard touchdown pass.
The Dolphins scored a touchdown with 1:56 left and recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Jordan Poyer’s interception sealed the win.
Taylor went 19 of 27 for 204 yards and one score. In six games against Miami, he has 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
For the Dolphins, the season finale had the feel of an exhibition game, with thousands of empty seats and David Fales giving a lengthy, unimpressive audition as a potential backup quarterback.
Miami were eliminated a week ago and sit out the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine years.
“I guess it’s a little perplexing,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
MONEY MATTERS: While COVID-19 played a major role in the decision, the CTBA also found it hard to secure sponsorship, and ticket sales would have been affected The Yonex Taipei Open badminton tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a funding shortfall, the CTBA said yesterday. This was the first time that the tournament, a Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Super 300-level competition, has been canceled since it began in 1980. The Taipei Open has been held annually since 1980. The tournament was to be played at the Taipei Arena from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6, with total prize money of US$500,000. The CTBA said that it was deeply concerned about whether the Taipei Open would proceed as scheduled after the BWF announced changes