KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
If New Year's Day is a time for hope then this next story is perfect because for the first time in 19 years, there is actually a chance for the Buffalo Bills.
MCEVERS: Buffalonians are celebrating the Bills' first trip to the NFL playoffs since 1999. As you can imagine, it's been a tough road for fans like 44-year-old Patrick Lazzara.
PATRICK LAZZARA: People are always talking about the NFL, and I'm like, yeah, it's all right. It's all right. My team stinks. I'm a Bills fan. And people are like, oh, sorry to hear that. Sorry to hear that, you know.
MCEVERS: Late yesterday, Lazarra and Bills fans were on the brink of yet another offseason of condolence. The Bills had won their game against the Miami Dolphins but that wasn't enough. They also needed help from another team a thousand miles away. Bills fans needed the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Baltimore Ravens, but with under a minute to go, the Ravens were up. Things did not look good for Buffalo. All the Ravens had to do was hold the Bengals for one more play and they would be in the playoffs, not the Bills. Bills fans held their breath.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: Ravens trying to end it here. Fourth down. Dalton steps up. Dalton throws. It's complete, caught by Boyd. Tyler Boyd - touchdown. Remarkable. The Cincinnati Bengals have stunned this crowd.
MCEVERS: The Bengals' incredible last-minute touchdown ended the Ravens' season. The Bills were still in Miami watching nervously in the visitor's locker room waiting for a miracle that actually happened.
MCEVERS: Bills fans pretty much everywhere went nuts in their homes...
MCEVERS: ...And in bars.
MCEVERS: And the party kept going even after the team flew home from Miami. Despite it being 1 o'clock in the morning and four degrees outside, hundreds of Bills fans welcomed the team home at the airport.
MCEVERS: OK. So this is supposed to be a happy story, which means we will not go into the playoff history of the Buffalo Bills. Spoiler alert - it is not good. But for at least one very cold and happy New Year's Eve, Bills fans could forget about all that and be glad. Finally, the playoffs are here.
(SOUNDBITE OF HUBBABUBBAKLUBB'S "MOPEDBART") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.