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For the Bills, a look back and a peek ahead

After falling in the AFC Championship Game, Buffalo can build on an extraordinary 2020 season and come back stronger in 2021.

They know they must tackle better on defense, take more chances on offense and communicate better when trying to pick up the blitz.

But the Buffalo Bills also know nobody wants it more than them. Their annihilation at the hands of the Bills in Sunday night's AFC Championship Game will only strengthen their resolve.

The kind of resolve that became more apparent when it was revealed on Monday that wide receiver Cole Beasley played all three playoff games with a broken fibula.

The kind of resolve that the Bills Mafia sees every week, prompting a throng to greet them at the airport at 3 a.m. on Monday after a losing effort.

Everyone inside their headquarters and out knows there's something special happening again with a team that has talent and depth and an emerging quarterback heading for a tremendous payday and the unexpected bonus of having offensive coordinator Brian Daboll back for another year.

"I'm extremely surprised he didn't get a chance to be a head coach," Allen said.

And doubly happy that the man perhaps most responsible for Allen going from 32nd (58.8) in the NFL to 4th (69.2) in completion percentage while directing the second-highest scoring offense in the league, up from 23rd the year before, will continue to tutor him.

Like after last year's playoff loss, certain plays and sequences will bother Allen throughout the offseason. He pointed to the series in which he was almost intercepted before missing Stefon Diggs with a deep throw.

On the other hand, there will be no accompanying doubt about his ability to run a high-powered offense.

"I proved that they didn't make a mistake by drafting me," he said.

Now that the season is over, Allen is eligible for a monster contract extension that, for the Bills' sake, would be better off being negotiated sooner rather than later.

But Allen insisted he won't be stressing over it.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," he said.

Beasley, who already is getting paid, didn't want to let his teammates down. Despite no guaranteed money being left on the four-year, $29 million free-agent contract he signed in 2019, he played with the leg fracture he sustained in Week 16 against New England.

"It was bad the first game I played [against Indianapolis]," he said. "But after that, it was `take a few meds and suck it up.' "

That's how bad Beasley wanted it.

"There was no way I was going to the playoff game, especially after watching in Week 17," he said. "So I was going to figure it out one way or another."

Figuring it out is something the entire team is close to doing, according to cornerback Tre'Davious White.

"We're close, we're very close," he said. "The group we have, we're a reslient group. We know that we have a group to win it all and we have exactly what we need to win it all.

"I feel like we will be back and we will be contending for a title."

Added tackle Dion Dawkins: "We brought the city just that much more hope."

And hope for themselves most of all.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.