DENVER (AP) — The Buffalo Bills captured their first AFC East title in a quarter-century Saturday when 24-year-old quarterback Josh Allen threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in a 48-19 rout of the Denver Broncos.
The Bills (11-3) scored twice in a 17-second span in the third quarter to ice their fourth straight victory that officially ended the New England Patriots’ 11-year reign atop the division.
The Broncos (5-9) have their fourth consecutive losing season for the first time since they had 10 straight sub-.500 campaigns from 1963-72. They also became the first team ever to go five years without making the playoffs following a Super Bowl title.
Allen threw for 359 yards, hitting Stefon Diggs 11 times for 147 yards before a foot injury in the fourth quarter, and Cole Beasley eight times for 112 yards.
Allen also tied Jack Kemp’s record of 25 career touchdown runs with his second TD scamper, a 1-yard keeper to the right that was set up by Andre Roberts’ 55-yard return of Taylor Russilino’s short second-half kickoff.
The Broncos turned to Russolino, whose vagabond career included stops in the XFL, the Canadian Football League and even the Chinese arena league after Brandon McManus went on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Russolino missed a 51-yard field goal and two extra points on a windy day that didn’t adversely affect Bills kicker Tyler Bass, who made both field goal attempts and all six extra points.
PACKERS 24, PANTHERS 16
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown as the Packers reached the end zone on their first three series before hanging on.
Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-low 143 yards but produced a touchdown pass – his 40th of the season – and a touchdown run for the Packers. Rodgers is the first player in NFL history to throw at least 40 touchdown passes in three separate seasons; he had 45 during his 2011 MVP campaign and 40 in 2016.
Green Bay (11-3) won its fourth straight and took a half-game lead over New Orleans (10-3) in the race for the NFC’s best record. The Packers own a tiebreaker over the Saints after winning 37-30 at New Orleans on Sept. 27.
Under the NFL’s new 14-team playoff format this year, only the No. 1 seed in each conference earns a first-round bye.
The Panthers (4-10) have lost eight of their last nine games.