Never has a meaningless win paid so well.
For the first time in 18 seasons, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs — and they have the Cincinnati Bengals to thank.
After beating the Miami Dolphins 22-16, winning their ninth game of the season, the Bills turned their eyes to the game between the Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens.
All the Ravens needed to do in order to make the playoffs (and prevent the Bills from taking their spot) was to hang onto a late-in-the-game lead against a mostly mediocre Bengals team. But with 44 seconds left, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton heaved a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyler Boyd, taking the lead and crushing the Ravens playoff hopes.
Dalton throws a pass during their 31-27 win against the Ravens on Dec. 31, 2017. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.
For the Bengals, the win was mostly meaningless — but for the Bills and their fans, it was everything. On Twitter, the team offered a quick thank you and a promise to send along some of their city’s famous wings to the Bengals for helping them reach the postseason.
It was a heartwarming gesture bound to make even the most casual of sports fans smile.
Thank you, @Bengals. https://t.co/HrJjuV5zWO— Buffalo Bills (@Buffalo Bills) 1514771825
Bills fans decided to take it one big step further, living up to their intense reputation.
Seriously, who goes to a game when the weather’s like this? Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images.
The Bills Mafia, as they like to be called, began making small donations to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, the Bengals QB’s charitable group. At first, it was a bit of a curiosity, with the group seeing a number of Buffalo-area donations trickling in.
In the 24 hours since the 1st donation came in, over 2500 donors and just over $57,000 and counting! Last update fo… https://t.co/D1mvBVK09K— Andy Dalton (@Andy Dalton) 1514860534
Within two days, Bills fans raised more than $100,000 for the foundation, which provides support to families with seriously ill children in the Cincinnati area.
We are blown away and so grateful for the amount of generosity we have been receiving! Keep it up and help us get t… https://t.co/vm03ySH310— AJD Foundation (@AJD Foundation) 1514911180
Dalton was absolutely blown away, posting an emotional video thanking the Bills fans for their kindness and generosity as well as wishing them luck in the playoffs.
It’s safe to say that Dalton’s never had as uplifting an end to an otherwise average season.
Thank you to everybody who is donating to the @ajdfoundation! We are blown away by the support! https://t.co/KPyd5X0CFR— Andy Dalton (@Andy Dalton) 1514914092