Well, that was exciting, wasn’t it? I’m sure you were all like me, sitting on the edge of my seat, watching with bated breath as the clock ticked down. Yet, when it was all over, I exhaled and savored a hard-fought three-point win over a tough NFC West opponent. I am, of course, talking about the Detroit Lions 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Buffalo Bills played on Sunday too, though the game was not very interesting. With the Bills leading 28-3 in the 3rd quarter and the outcome of the game clearly settled, I turned the game off and decided to rearrange my sock drawer. I’m assuming the Bills won in a blowout…
Okay, so that was almost a complete clusterfu…err, disaster. But as I’ve said before, a win is a win. They’re never easy to come by, and you never apologize for them, and there are no style points in the NFL. What was interesting about this game is it seemed to highlight both the very best of the Bills’ strengths and the very worst of their weaknesses. When it mattered, Josh Allen came through again, as he has so many times.
1. First Half Josh Allen
First Half Josh Allen looked like the same MVP candidate we’ve seen all three weeks now. Spreading the ball around, showing good accuracy, running the ball effectively, and hitting some big plays. First Half Josh Allen had the Bills leading a very good Rams team 21-3 and firmly in control after 30 minutes. First Half Josh Allen was very good.
2. Final Drive Josh Allen
Final Drive Josh Allen looked like the same cold-blooded assassin we’ve seen before. After blowing a 28-3 lead, Allen found his Bills somehow trailing with less than five minutes left on the clock. 11 plays and 75 yards later, Allen was tossing his 4th touchdown pass of the day. He turned a 3rd and 22 into a first down with a strike to Cole Beasley. He turned a 3rd and 25 into a manageable 4th down which likely made the much debated pass interference call possible. He finished it off with a touchdown pass and kept the Bills undefeated. Final Drive Josh Allen was very good.
3. Secondary Receivers
John Brown left the game with an injury and didn’t record a catch on the day. Stefon Diggs scored for the second consecutive week but was otherwise held in check. But the secondary weapons for the Bills stepped up in a huge way. Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis combined for 10 catches for 184 yards. Devin Singletary added 50 receiving yards. Tyler Kroft and Lee Smith both added touchdown receptions. Buffalo showed they’re more than just one or two guys. They have a deep set of weapons, and, more importantly, the offense plays as a unit with no egos.
1. Second Half Josh Allen
Boy, I was having some flashbacks to the playoff game in Houston. I couldn’t believe my eyes as MVP level First Half Josh Allen morphed into Second Half Josh Allen who was holding the ball too long, taking terrible sacks, and looked incredibly uncomfortable in the pocket. Second half Josh Allen committed two personal fouls in the 4th quarter. Second Half Josh Allen was very bad.
2. The Defense
This was probably the most disappointing part of Sunday’s game. Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds returned to the lineup, but it didn’t seem to matter. Jared Goff picked apart the secondary to the tune of 321 yards and two scores. The rush defense surrendered 167 yards on the ground on better than five yards per carry. The Bills didn’t force a single punt in the afternoon. This is still a really talented, well-coached unit so I wouldn’t suggest Bills fans lose too much sleep over it. But still, it was a disappointing effort.
3. Second Half Play Calling
Brian Daboll called a masterful game in the first half. Mixing the run and pass effectively, spreading the ball to a number of receivers, utilizing play-action, taking advantage of Josh Allen’s legs with designed QB runs, and keeping the Rams defense completely off balance. It felt like that changed in the second half. It seemed as if every pass play included a play-action fake, and the Rams defensive line wasn’t buying it. They were just pinning their ears back and coming after Allen to try and disrupt the Bills flow. It worked. Part of the reason Josh Allen seemed so flustered was the play calls weren’t getting the ball out of his hand quickly when the Rams turned up the pass rush pressure.
1. The Officiating
To be clear, I didn’t find the officiating to be one-sided or particularly bad throughout the game. But there were two very curious calls. The first gave Josh Allen his first interception of the season. How the official on the field ruled that John Johnson intercepted the ball is beyond me. How the replay official looked at it and upheld the call on the field was incomprehensible. Mike Pereria strongly disagreed on the telecast, and so did every other football fan with a functioning brain.
The call everyone is talking about is the PI on the 4th down play that otherwise would have ended the game. As the unbiased Buffalo Bills Outsider, I can tell you that wasn’t defensive pass interference. The pass wasn’t catchable, and there was very little contact while the ball was in the air. I could have understood an illegal contact call which would have moved the ball to the 8-yard line instead of the 3. The Bills got very fortunate.
I admit I was amused by the Rams players and coaches who were clearly irritated at the call after the game. Apparently, they have very short memories in Los Angeles. I seem to remember the Rams getting a Super Bowl berth due to the worst pass interference non-call in the history of the game. Hey L.A., the call in your favor in the NFC Championship game was so bad the NFL literally changed the rules to make PI calls reviewable so no team would ever get screwed as hard as the Saints got screwed.
Quit whining because you had that call coming.
Congrats to all Bills fans on being 3-0 and still alone in first place in the AFC East. I had forgotten what it felt like as a fan to see your team win, but fortunately, I was reminded today. It was nice to have a few hours where I knew what it felt like to be a Bills fan. Had you lost that game after leading 28-3 at home, you would have known what it felt like to be a Lions fan. You dodged a bullet.