By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Tyler Bass hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired, and the Buffalo Bills clinched their fourth consecutive playoff berth on a snow-slick field in rallying to a 32-29 win over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night.
The AFC-leading Bills (11-3) overcame a 29-21 deficit by scoring on their final two drives. Josh Allen tied the game with a 5-yard pass to Dawson Knox and the quarterback then leaped over the line for a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 29 with 9:02 remaining. Allen lost control of the ball, but a replay review showed he crossed the goal line before fumbling.
Allen then oversaw a 15-play, 86-yard drive that ate up the final 5:56 to set up Bass’ field goal, which led to numerous Bills players diving head-first to slide in the snow.
Allen threw four touchdown passes to increase his career total to 171 (including one receiving), and tie former Miami quarterback Dan Marino for the most by an NFL player in the first five seasons of his career.
In winning its fifth straight, and third in three weeks over a divisional opponent, Buffalo also inched closer to clinching its third consecutive AFC East title by building a three-win lead over Miami.
“Can’t win a Super Bowl unless you make the playoffs. That’s goal No. 1 down,” Allen said of a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations and, thanks to tiebreakers, has the inside track to finish first in the AFC standings.
And Allen didn’t rule out the potential of facing Miami for a third time this year, in reference to the playoffs by saying: “Who knows if we’ll see them again. I’m pretty positive we will.”
Bills players credited Allen, who also led the team with 77 yards rushing, including a 44-yard scramble on the game-tying drive.
“I’ve said this before, it’s not even surprising at this point — there’s Josh being Josh again,” Knox said.
The Dolphins (8-6) entered the weekend in second place and as the AFC’s sixth seed. They’ve now lost three in a row in their bid to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2016.
“We had a very good performance against a very, very good team,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “I know a lot of people would like to make it about the weather, but our team never did.”
Though the conditions were cold with temperatures in the 20s, snow wasn’t much of a factor until it began falling heavily in the fourth quarter. The threat of a lake-effect storm dumping as much as two feet of snow on the region failed to materialize by game time. The snow stopped falling by late afternoon, in time for stadium officials to clear the field in time for kickoff.
The conditions were much the opposite from the Dolphins’ 21-19 win over Buffalo in Miami in September, when the game-time temperature was 89 degrees.
This time, the Bills used the home-field elements to their advantage in an outing they nearly bobbled away.
The Dolphins took the lead on Tua Tagovailoa’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Miami’s drive was extended by Buffalo’s Cam Lewis being flagged for roughing punter Thomas Morstead after the Bills stopped the Dolphins on a three-and-out at midfield.
Miami then capitalized on Allen being sacked and losing a fumble, which was forced by Jaelan Phillips and recovered by Christian Wilkins at midfield two plays into the fourth quarter. The turnover set up Jason Sanders hitting a 47-yard field goal.
Tagovailoa finished 17 of 30 for 234 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yarder to Jaylen Waddle. Raheem Mostert finished with 136 yards rushing, while backup Salvon Ahmed ran for 43 yards, including an 11-yard TD.
Despite the loss, the Dolphins offense showed signs of rediscovering its groove. After combining for 527 yards offense in losing to San Francisco and the Los Angeles Chargers on consecutive weekends on the West Coast, Miami finished with 405 yards against a Buffalo defense which entered the weekend ranked ninth in the NFL in yards allowed.
“I’m very proud of the way our team leaders stepped up in this game,” Tagovailoa said. “I think our team is taking a step in the right direction.”
Allen finished 25 of 40 for 304 yards, and matched a career-best with four touchdowns passing. Nyheim Hynes, Quintin Morris and James Cook each had TD catches.
Allen showed off his fearless ability on never giving up on a play with his 4-yard touchdown pass to Cook to put Buffalo up 21-13 to cap a 12-play, 82-yard drive as time expired.
Facing first-and-goal with 8 seconds remaining, Allen waited in the pocket before being flushed to his right. Two steps from going out of bounds, and as time had expired, Allen found Cook alone in the back of the end zone.
The Bills elevated WR Cole Beasley off their practice squad for the game, less than a week after signing the 11th year player. Beasley ended a brief two-month retirement to return to Buffalo, where the 2019-21 seasons playing. Wearing his familiar No. 11, Beasley had one catch for 9 yards.
Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle … DB Keion Crossen returned after hurting his knee in the first half, and then left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Bills: C Mitch Morse did not return after being evaluated for a head injury in the second half.
Dolphins: Host the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
Bills: Travel to play the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
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