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Jerry Sullivan: Big road wins a rarity during Bills' drought

I've done the usual grim research, a review of the Bills' recent road history, and concluded that a win this Sunday in Atlanta would be their biggest during the drought. In fact, you could make an argument (I just did) that it would be their biggest road win since the 1993 AFC championship game.

During their 17-year playoff drought, the Bills have 11 road wins against teams that finished the season with a winning record. Of those 11, only three went on to win a playoff game. Two were in recent years at New England, once in a meaningless finale and last year when the Pats were without Tom Brady. Both Pats teams went on to win the Super Bowl.

The other road win over a team that went on to win in the postseason was a memorably ugly 16-13 overtime win at the Jets in Rex Ryan's first season in 2009. The Bills intercepted six passes that day – five off rookie Mark Sanchez – and gave up 318 yards rushing. Not exactly an epic triumph. But the Jets did reach the AFC title game.

Aside from the two wins over the Patriots, the only Bills road wins over teams that won at least 11 games were at Detroit in 2014 and Cincinnati in 2005 on Christmas Eve. The Lions were without their top two running backs and lost Calvin Johnson to injury in that game, the Bills' first with Kyle Orton as starting quarterback.

The Bengals had already clinched a playoff berth before the '05 game against the Bills. I remember Tom Donahoe hugging Mike Mularkey as they walked off the field that day. The Bills fired Donahoe as general manager two weeks later. A week later, Mularkey resigned as head coach.

Here's a list of the Bills' road wins over teams that finished above .500 during the playoff drought.

Date of Game  Final Score  (Opponent final record)
-----------------  ----------------------------------------
Dec. 30, 2001  Bills 14, Jets 9  (Jets finished 10-6)
Oct. 20, 2002  Bills 23, Miami 10 (Dolphins finished 9-7)
Nov. 28, 2004  Bills 38, Seattle 9 (Seahawks finished 9-7)
Dec. 24, 2005  Bills 37, Cincinnati 27 (Bengals finished 11-5
Dec. 10, 2006  Bills 31, Jets 13 (Jets finished 10-6)
Dec. 2, 2007    Bills 17, Washington 16 (Redskins finished 9-7)
Oct. 18, 2009   Bills 16, Jets 13 , OT  (Jets finished 10-6)
Oct. 5, 2014      Bills 17, Detroit 14 (Lions finished 11-5)
Dec. 28, 2014   Bills 17, New England 9 (Pats finished 12-4)
Nov. 12, 2015   Bills 22, Jets 17 (Jets finished 10-6)
Oct. 2, 2016      Bills 16, New England 0 (Pats finished 14-2)

 

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