A highly controversial officiating decision nearly derailed the Buffalo Bills’ first playoff victory in 25 years.
Leading the Indianapolis Colts by three Saturday with less than a minute remaining in their wild-card round matchup, Bills safety Jordan Poyer and linebacker Matt Milano teamed up to force what appeared to be a game-clinching fumble.
Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal slid to the turf after catching a pass over the middle but jumped to his feet in an attempt to gain more yardage. As he did, Poyer and Milano converged to jar the ball loose, and Buffalo recovered.
Officials, however, ruled Pascal down by contact, then upheld the call after a video review.
Fortunately for Buffalo, the call proved inconsequential.
Colts wideout Michael Pittman fumbled out of bounds one play later, keeping the clock running, and Philip Rivers closed out the game with three consecutive incompletions, including a failed Hail Mary attempt as time expired.
The AFC East champion Bills escaped with a 27-24 win to advance to the divisional round.
It was Buffalo’s first postseason victory since 1995, when Jim Kelly outdueled Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round.
The Bills will host the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans or Baltimore Ravens next weekend.