The Bills may have shown up on defense against New England and beat up on a vastly inferior Dolphins squad last week, but this week’s wall to wall domination of the Denver Broncos was by far the Bills best game of the season. Lets digest everything that went down.
The Defense Dominates
The Broncos managed only three points. Brandon Allen was 10/25 for a measly 82 yards and an interception. The Broncos ran for 85 yards as a team. Cortland Sutton caught one ball on eight targets for 27 yards. Noah Fant caught three passes for only 14 yards. To put it simply, the Bills completely shut down the Broncos offense. They never once put a scare into the Bills.
Shaq Lawson deserves a chance to retain his starting job at Left End. He is simply just a better player than Trent Murphy. Lawson proved that today with two sacks on quarterback Brandon Allen. If the Bills can get Lawson to accept a contract in the 5-7 million dollar range and cut ties with Trent Murphy this off-season, they should jump at the chance. He can play both end positions, rotate in at three technique, is stout against the run, and adds a little pass rush pop. He is the perfect #3 defensive end in the modern NFL.
This defense is simply different with Matt Milano week after week. He is one of the best defensive players in the entire national football league currently. Despite only five tackles, Milano was all over the football field and involved in seemingly almost every play. He and Edmunds should be an elite linebacker duo for a long time.
While other rookies typically hit a wall as the NFL season drags on, Ed Oliver seems to just be hitting his stride. He had another sack in the game and almost had another. Fellow defensive tackle Star Lotulelei beat Oliver to the quarterback by a split second and received credit for it. He took a dumb late hit penalty later in the game, but other than that he was flawless.
Sean McDermott Shows Even More Growth
If Tre White doesn’t make the Pro Bowl, they really do need to put an end to that frivolous affair. Tre White is one of the best five cornerbacks in the NFL and he furthered proved that on Sunday by holding Cortland Sutton to one catch for 27 yards on eight targets. He continues to shadow the opposition’s top target week in and week out and take it to them. He even added another interception late in the first half to save the offense from a turnover of their own.
When you think of Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier, the word ruthless does not come to mind, but on Sunday they were, in fact, ruthless. Cortland Sutton came into the game on a high, taking it to some of the better cornerbacks in football. As stated above he was absolutely blanketed on Sunday, held to one catch on eight targets. White wasn’t alone in shutting Sutton down. The announcers noted McDermott and Frazier schemed a safety to help on almost every play. That really stuck out to me. They essentially doubled Sutton and dared the Broncos to throw to anyone else. They couldn’t. To me, that is a ruthless approach that you don’t often see from a more conservative coach like McDermott. He has gotten aggressive these last few weeks. Let’s see if that continues vs better offenses.
McDermott Struggles In Other Areas
Sean McDermott is still struggling in two key areas of game management: the last two minutes of the half and fourth downs inside the 50 yard line when you don’t trust your kicker.
The Bills got the ball back in the first half with a chance to go up 9-0 heading into the half. What happened next was getting false start penalties, using a timeout after spiking the ball, and running a halfback draw as opposed to attempting a hail mary. It was a series of events that we have seen play put multiple times this season, and it needs to get cleaned up. Going into and coming out of the half can be absolutely critical to winning games.
Due to conditions that you typically see late in the season, Sean McDermott has now coached in two games where he didn’t trust his kicker from 50+ yards. Against Cleveland, McDermott elected to go for it on 4th downs instead of kicking long field goals. The offense could not execute, and it eventually played a role in costing the Bills the game. Against Denver when faced with the same situation, McDermott chose to leave his offense on the field to try and draw the Broncos offside with a hard count. It failed, and the Bills burned a time out. Rich Gannon correctly pointed out that McDermott should have just let the clock run out and moved back the five yards and preserved the time-out. Ultimately, it didn’t matter, but in the future it could. It is not a good sign when your Head Coach is rightfully being corrected by Rich Gannon.
The Miami Game Mattered
Most pundits dismissed the Bills win over the Miami Dolphins last week as “meaningless” because the Dolphins were such an inferior opponent. I disagree. I believe it was one of the most important games of the season. Here is why:
The Buffalo Bills played an extremely good defense this week. Although they could have done better, it was extremely impressive the way they were able to work the ball down the field and collect six points in the first half. This defense matches up well against what the Bills are worst at offensively. In the second half, the Bills offense played outside of itself in leading two touchdown drives to put the game away. The confidence gleaned from last week’s performance certainly played a role in that.
The Play of the Game
With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Josh Allen threw a 34 yard dagger to John Brown to put any doubt of a Buffalo victory to rest. He may not be a franchise quarterback yet, but that was a franchise quarterback throw. Allen was dropping some absolute dimes on Sunday. He threw his first interception in over 160 attempts, and it did not phase him. He came back in the second half and tossed two touchdowns.
His stat-line may not be incredible, but in these weather conditions, it was a hell of a game. His ability to use his legs is also becoming a huge asset in bad weather games. Allen extended multiple drives with his feet and/or allowed the special teams unit to flip the field.
Brown finished with two catches for 39 yards and a touchdown, ending his streak of finishing every game with at least 50 yards. Beasley was targeted nine times and caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line deserves a ton of credit. Allen had all day to throw, and the Bills gashed the upper-echelon Broncos defense for over 200 yards on the ground.
The Running Game Takes Over & History is Made
Devin Singletary went over the century mark for the first time in his young career carrying the ball 21 times for 106 yards. Josh Allen added nine runs for 56 yards. The Bills as a whole ran the ball 47 times for 243 yards. But that was all overshadowed by Frank Gore’s 15 carry, 65 yard performance. In the fourth quarter, Frank Gore was able to surpass Barry Sanders for third on the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rushers List. Congrats Frank!
Bonus: Special Teams Has A Day
Steven Hauschka was 2/2 kicking field goals today with a long of 39 yards.
Corey Bojorquez had 4 punts, all in the second half. He placed those punts at the 10, 11, 13, and 18 yard lines respectively.
Andre Roberts returned two kicks for 41 yards and 5 punts for 41 yards. He is getting closer every week to making a house call. One week, one of his big returns could be the difference in a close game.
The Buffalo Bills play the Dallas Cowboys in the 4pm Thanksgiving Day game … pretty surreal. At 8-3 and with the Jets and Steelers looking less and less like “easy victories,” beating the Cowboys on a short week could really tilt the playoff scales in the Bills favor. The Bills have a chance to excise some demons on Thursday against a team that bested them in two Super Bowls and mounted a miraculous come from behind win in their last game at New Era Field on Monday Night Football. This is a chance for Josh Allen and company to show the world they aren’t the “Same Old Bills”.