Riley Dixon’s night had more drama than most punters encounter in an entire season.
The Broncos punter — in his team’s 24-22 victory over the Bills — launched kicks well through the end zone, dropped key snaps and was accused of using illegal substances by disillusioned Bills fans on social media.
Let’s start at the end.
After the Broncos scored a touchdown to grab a 21-15 lead with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter, Dixon bobbled the snap and Denver maintained just that six-point edge.
It appeared that the mistake may cost the Broncos dearly as the Bills marched right down the field for a touchdown — and with a successful extra point went up 22-21 with 1:55 left.
But Russell Wilson and the Broncos are no longer the punchlines they were last season and the veteran quarterback — aided by a costly Taron Johnson pass interference penalty — moved the team into field-goal range.
Dixon, an ex-Giant, had no issues handling the two snaps that followed. Wil Lutz missed wide right on his first chance at the game-winning kick that was bailed out by the Bills’ 12-men-on-the-field penalty and then calmly split the uprights from 5 yards closer.
But what about that smudge on Dixon’s hand, wondered some Bills supporters clinging to hope stronger than their team is clinging to its playoff chances.
A closeup replay of Dixon’s hold did show something on the back of his hand, though it is impossible to say what exactly it was.
Dixon dropping the snap on the extra-point attempt led some to think that it was some sort of sticky substance, which was banned by the league in 1981, to help him grip the ball on a cold and windy night in western New York.
“Are we going to talk about what’s on Riley Dixon’s hand orrrr,” one fan wrote on X, while tagging the NFL.
Barstool’s PFT Commenter had fun with the frustration building up on X.
Better to have Bills fans questioning you than Broncos fans, which is how the night started for Dixon.
The 30-year-old slammed his first two punts of the night straight through the end zone, seemingly not bothering to try to pin the Bills inside the 10-yard line as most punters do.
After the costly mistake on the extra point, fans were calling for the team to leave Dixon in Buffalo.
The win, which was the Broncos’ third straight, got Dixon off the hook.