ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills clinched a playoff berth in their 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Josh Allen to tight end Tyler Kroft.
The play marked the fifth catch and first touchdown of the season for Kroft, who missed two games and all of training camp with a broken foot. Ironically, the play was the same type of route he ran when he broke the foot during the Bills' first session of organized training activities in May.
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said Monday it came up among the Bills' coaching staff during the team's trip home from Pittsburgh that Kroft's corner route toward the right side of the end zone looked familiar.
"The first day of practice -- the play he got hurt on -- he ran the same exact route, catches it on the same exact side and bends it the same exact way against [Bills linebacker Matt] Milano," Daboll said. "He's come a long way, he's battled through a lot of things. I was really happy for him.
"The kid has worked so hard, and he's had so many things come up, injury-wise. To be in there and make a play that really helped us get over the top -- you're really happy for a guy like that."
Kroft originally broke his foot during his final season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018, then broke it again after signing with the Bills this offseason. He missed the first two games of the season as he rehabbed the injury -- only to injure his ankle in practice, forcing him to miss another three games.
While Kroft worked his way back from yet another injury, Bills rookie Dawson Knox established himself as the team's primary tight end. Despite carrying a smaller role than originally planned, Kroft said the touchdown was rewarding to an extent and a product of the team-first approach he has dedicated himself to.
"Not gonna lie, it's been a bit of a marathon this year," Kroft said. "We preach having a mentally strong team here, and I think we do. ... It meant a lot. It's been a long year, but it was awesome getting that first score."