- The Baltimore Ravens were eliminated from playoff contention in the final seconds of their Week 17 matchup against the Bengals, giving up the lead late in the game on a long fourth-down conversion.
- The Ravens’ loss pushed the Buffalo Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999, ending the longest postseason drought in the NFL.
- With the playoff bracket set, the postseason kicks off this weekend with the Wild Card round.
The Baltimore Ravens entered Sunday with a 94% chance of making the playoffs, but after falling to the Cincinnati Bengals in the final seconds of their game on Sunday, they’ll be watching the postseason from home in 2018, and the Buffalo Bills could not be happier.
The Ravens path to the playoffs was simple — win and they were in. As 10-point favorite at home against the Bengals, that was the path most expected they would take. But even if the Ravens lost, they would still qualify for the postseason as long as either the Tennesee Titans or the Bills lost their matchups on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Bills entered Sunday with just a 17% chance of making the postseason, needing a win over the Miami Dolphins and a loss from the Ravens. As the final games of the regular season came to a close, the Bills had taken care of their part of the bargain, but were still on the outside of the playoff race looking in, with the Ravens leading the Bengals by 27-24 in the final minute of the game.
The Bills knew they needed a bit of help from the Bengals.
The Ravens needed just one more stop to punch their ticket to the postseason. With just 51 seconds left, it looked like the deed was all but done — the Ravens’ defense had forced Andy Dalton and the Bengals, with nothing but pride and spite towards Baltimore to play for, into fourth-and-12 from midfield.
But the Bengals would not go quiet into that good night. Dalton dropped back and found Tyler Boyd for the first down, and eventually the touchdown, thrusting Cincinnati into the lead.
The Bengals would hold on to win 31-27, ending the Ravens season and helping the Bills end the longest active playoff drought in the NFL.
And with that dramatic turn, the NFL regular season came to a close. The playoff bracket is set, and there’s only more chaos to come when the Wild Card round starts next week.