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Bills fans donate $250K to Bengals QB Andy Dalton's charity after he saved their season

Bills fans have been donating money to Andy Dalton's foundation to benefit sick children in $17 dollar increments, one for every year they missed the playoffs.
/ Source: TODAY

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton gave Buffalo Bills fans the gift of their first playoff game in this century, so they decided to pay him back in a special way.

More than $250,000 in donations have poured into the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, much of it from Bills fans, since Dalton's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The 49-yard play allowed Buffalo to clinch its first NFL playoff berth in 17 years.

"We cannot thank everybody enough," Dalton said in a video message on Wednesday night.

"This has been just so amazing to see just how supportive people are, how much people are blessing us with these donations. The impact it's going to make is gonna be huge."

Dalton, whose Bengals came up short of making the playoffs, said more than 10,000 donors have given to the foundation since Sunday.

Founded by Dalton and his wife, the foundation provides resources for families with seriously ill and physically-challenged children in Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas, where Dalton played in college at Texas Christian University.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has become a hero in Buffalo. Getty Images

Many of the donations have been Bills fans giving $17, symbolizing one dollar for every year the Bills missed the playoffs, which was the longest current drought of any NFL team.

Others donated $49 in honor of Dalton's 49-yard strike to Tyler Boyd. Bills fans also donated more than $20,000 to a fund-raising campaign started by Boyd to raise money for the Western Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Association.

"A big Bills thank you for your help yesterday, but more importantly thank you for your work with children day in and day out off the field,'' a pair of Bills fans named Denice and Jim Dunn wrote on the team's Facebook page. "It’s important work."

The donations have already surpassed the foundation's annual budget of $144,000, which will allow the charity to help more families with $2,000 monthly grants for medical bills and other needs, according to The New York Times.

The Bills fans, known by the hashtag #BillsMafia, were delirious on Sunday after celebrating their first playoff berth since 1999.

There also was a raucous scene in the Bills' locker room after a win over Miami when they saw Dalton's touchdown pass.

Dalton was so appreciative of the support, had a pair of billboards put up in Buffalo to thank fans. They will be displayed on a pair of Buffalo highways until Sunday, according to The Buffalo News.

The Bills will travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in the AFC wild-card game.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.