The Buffalo Bills won their fourth game of the season Sunday, as they took down the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-3. It was also the fourth game that the Bills held their opponent scoreless after halftime. Through five games, Buffalo has now given up just seven second half points this season… SEVEN. They are outscoring their opponents 70-7 in the second half, and 44-0 in the third quarter. (Keep in mind, the starters have spent two-plus quarters of second half action on the bench with their baseball caps on.)
Let’s keep rolling with the stats… The Buffalo Bills now have a +91 point differential to lead the league (San Francisco is next with +47). They are first in total yards/game (440.4), first in passing yards/game (324), first in total points (152), and second in points/game (30.4). As for their defense, they are tied for first in points allowed (61) and points allowed/game (12.2) and are second in total yards allowed/game (260.4).
And this has all happened with an injury report longer than the drought. (For real, there were more than 17 players on the injury report a couple of weeks ago.) I mean, just look at some of the players who were out Sunday while their backups helped demolish the Steelers.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that he’s proud of his guys for the way they stepped up.
“Proud of the guys. The way they were focused in on this week, taking it one week at a time. And then we had a number of guys [who] missed the game and I thought the guys did a great job of just being resilient. The guys that were called upon to play were prepared and did a good job.”McDermott on the “Next Men Up” from Sunday
McDermott, who now has the best winning percentage in Buffalo Bills history (.616), said that the team’s attention to detail throughout the week was why they were able to play such a strong game.
“I just think it’s good detail. We harped on the details during the week and it paid off… You gotta have the detail in order to execute, and I thought we executed at a high level when we needed to.”McDermott on the team’s execution
Josh Allen & Gabe Davis
WR Stefon Diggs said what everyone was thinking after the game.
“I got a real good quarterback, like a real good quarterback.”Diggs on Josh Allen
QB Josh Allen essentially threw the game-winning TD pass with 13:56 left in the first quarter. On just the third play of the game, Allen stood tall, stepped up, and flicked an absolute dime (into the wind, as he was hit) to WR Gabe Davis for a 98-yard TD.
This video the Bills tweeted out is one of those Josh Allen highlights that’ll keep you up at night (in a good way). I mean, how is this physically possible???
And then, as he always does, Allen somehow found a way to one-up himself in the second quarter, connecting with Davis yet again. This time, for a 62-yard TD strike. Not only did Allen show off his arm strength, but Davis showed how good of a receiver he is. He caught the pass one handed, reeled it in, and then ripped it away from Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Just an insane play all around.
Allen said that it’s fun to hit on those kind of plays.
“I got kind of hit right when I threw it, so I didn’t see him catch it. I just kind of heard the crowd go crazy and got helped up and just saw him by himself 90+ yards down the field. Those ones are cool, it’s gonna be tough to beat.”Allen on his first TD pass to Davis
He said that it was a combination of catching the Steelers defense flat footed and wanting to show Davis, who was hobbled by an ankle injury the previous three weeks, that he still has the confidence to throw to him and give him opportunities when they present themselves.
“I got so much trust and faith in 13.”Allen on Gabe Davis
Davis finished the game with three catches for 171 yards and two TDs. His 57.0 yards/catch marked a single game franchise record. Similarly, Diggs did his thing, catching eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Khalil Shakir & James Cook
Meanwhile, WR Khalil Shakir and RB James Cook, the other two players to score for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, each recorded their first career touchdowns. Shakir was playing in the slot and in the return game for the injured Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie. He finished his first career start with three receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. So, Buffalo’s top three receivers combined for 14 receptions, 348 yards, and 4 TDs. Pretty good I’d say.
McDermott said that Shakir, who I think is the second coming of Robert Woods, has a good feel for the game and that he’s seen his poise and maturity before.
Shakir said there wasn’t anything too fancy called for him on his 24-yard TD pass late in the second quarter other than that the Steelers were in man coverage and he noticed it and “took off.” He then talked about the trust factor between him and his QB.
“I look at it as, if Josh has enough trust to throw it up to me with those many guys around me, then I have to do my part.”Shakir on his 31-yard reception in the first quarter
Meanwhile, Cook ran the ball four times for 37 yards, including a 24-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. OC Ken Dorsey said Monday that it is challenging to try and find the balance with all three running backs, but a lot of it comes down to the flow of the game and who/what is working.
Dorsey had an interesting quote when asked about the offense as a whole and trying to find the balance between going for the explosive plays and taking what the defense is giving you.
“Be smart, not conservative with the football.”Dorsey on his offensive approach
McDermott said he was happy for both Cook and Shakir, who have been working hard in practice.
“It’s a feel-good moment for sure. You pray for that for these guys, especially young players like that. And it is an adjustment to the NFL, and he’s in the process of making that.”McDermott on Cook’s performance
Allen said it’s not a surprise that guys like Shakir, Cook, Isaiah Hodgins, Tanner Gentry, Quintin Morris, etc. are finding success when their names are called.
“Just trusting the guys that we brought into this building… bringing in the right guys who care about football, care about each other. And when you have that, you’re gonna have success.”Allen on Buffalo’s offensive role players
In another dominating defensive performance, DE Von Miller was all smiles in his post game press conference.
“Defense came in with a great mindset today… to hold them to three points, it was an incredible day for our defense.”Miller on the defense’s performance
He went on to say how happy he is to be playing in Buffalo.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of this, and I’m happy to be a Buffalo Bill for sure.”Miller on being in Buffalo
The Young Guns
Just like the offense, the Buffalo Bills defense had a ton of young players step up on Sunday. Whether it was LB Tyrel Dodson leading the team with 11 tackles, CB Kaiir Elam coming down with his first career interception, or S Damar Hamlin and S Jaquan Johnson holding down the back end without Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, everyone did their 1/11th.
DC Leslie Frazier said there are many things that stick out to him about his defense and their success, but if he had to choose one thing that impresses him the most, it’s their ability to come together in times of adversity.
“There are so many superlatives when I think about some of the things our guys are doing, but one of the things that sticks out is the way they really bond together.”Frazier on the Bills Defense’s cohesion
He talked about all four players that I had mentioned, noting that they have all worked extremely hard in practice and keep improving every day, as evident from their performances on Sunday.
Towards the end of his press conference, WGR’s Sal Capaccio asked Frazier what exactly goes on at halftime and how they’re able to make such good adjustments. Frazier said that, within a span of 10 minutes, he meets with his defensive staff to talk things over, and then relays their messages to the players, going over any adjustments that they’ll be making.
“We’ll come together as a defensive staff as soon as we get into the locker room and we’ll talk through some of the things that have happened in the first half in particular, something that may have hurt us in that first half and we want to get corrected. And then we’ll talk about what adjustments we might want to make, if any.”Frazier on Defensive halftime adjustments
There wasn’t any new news on the injury front for the Buffalo Bills on Monday, according to McDermott. While there were no new injuries, it appeared DT Jordan Phillips re-injured his hamstring. We will see the official diagnosis on Phillips later in the week. As for everyone that was out Sunday, McDermott grouped them together and said they are all improving. Isaiah McKenzie is still in concussion protocol. Meanwhile, they are still taking it “one day at a time” with CB Tre White.
The Bills will need all hands on deck this week if they want to take down Kansas City… or will they? Can the backups come in and not miss a beat once again?
*All quotes come from the postgame and/or Monday afternoon press conferences (via the Buffalo Bills YouTube channel).
Feature Image: Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images