The Buffalo Bills are 8-3, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in 23 years. It’s been made possible thanks to a dominant 20-to-3 victory over the Denver Broncos at New Era Field. Buffalo clearly was the far superior team, and it showed on a windy afternoon in Western New York. Here are my top three takeaways from this game:
The first complete game, from start to finish
The Bills were 7-3, but everyone could agree about them lacking a true dominant win — a game where the team really dominated the opposition for 60 minutes. That finally happened today.
The offense was consistent, establishing the running game with Devin Singletary and Josh Allen early, and using veteran Frank Gore as a hammer later on. The passing game complemented the running game perfectly, and the offense didn’t score more points thanks to a very good Broncos redzone defense (ranked 2nd in the NFL).
Bills defense today:
*10 drives against them
*134 total yards
*no 1st downs given up last 25 minutes
*Denver 2-11 on 3rd down
* 4 sacks, 1 takeaway
— Howard WGR (@hsimon62) November 24, 2019
The defense was stellar, containing running back Phillip Lindsay to 57 yards and no scores on 13 attempts, and quarterback Brandon Allen to a miserable 82 passing yards, no scores, and one interception. He was able to complete just 10 of 25 pass attempts, even playing from behind from the beginning, an absolutely awesome performance by the Bills’ defense.
The Bills are looking better as the season goes on, and Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys should look like a nice preview for a possible playoff game, away from home, in January. I’m cautiously optimistic about the team’s improvements at this stage of the season.
Brian Daboll’s offense finding its identity
They had some ups and downs, but the whole season I’ve tried to be patient, keeping in mind that this offense is a work in progress with an offensive coordinator in the second season on the job, with a second-year QB at the helm, and just two more starters coming back from last season. Well, it’s paying dividends.
After trying a lot of different strategies, opening the season as one of the most pass-happy units in the NFL, it looks like Daboll finally found an identity for his group. Rookie running back Devin Singletary surpassed veteran Frank Gore on the depth chart, and Daboll is utilizing his skill to establish a strong running game early. Josh Allen’s legs are being used as a threat in the running game, too, as seen by his three rushing attempts on designed QB runs, on the very first offensive drive of the game. It stresses opposing defenses so much that make things easier in the passing game, especially with play-action. It’s beautiful to watch.
Devin Singletary recorded his first 100-yard rushing day and Frank Gore passed Barry Sanders for the third-most rushing yards in NFL history. 👏
Bills dominate the Broncos for eighth win of the season: https://t.co/KJp6DHqRdY pic.twitter.com/bdbhyBNi7s
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 24, 2019
Then you have Isaiah McKenzie and Robert Foster’s speed to threaten defenses horizontally in the running game with jet motions, and obviously Allen’s arm to stretch it vertically. This resulted in a great performance in which the Bills ran all over a very good Broncos defense, accumulating 244 yards on the ground.
This plan looks better than the previous one, where the Bills’ offense screamed “pass” most of the time, with a still-developing Josh Allen having 30-plus passing attempts per game. Anyway, even though that proved to be the least efficient of the ways, it served as experience for the young signal-caller. When the running game doesn’t work, he will have the previous experience to help him in the challenge ahead. But until the opposition makes them change, this offense should continue to have its run-first mentality.
Guys stepping up at the right time
With the team leading the race for a wildcard spot in the AFC, Buffalo is watching some important players blossom at the right time.
How to not notice the improvements in Josh Allen’s game? The quarterback is looking better as the season goes on, and his performance today definitely counts as another step in the right direction. With 185 yards and two TDs in the air, plus 56 yards on the ground, a week after being selected the AFC player of the week, Allen’s trending in the right direction.
The same can be said about defensive end Shaq Lawson. In a contract year, he continues to improve his play week after week and, despite still being listed as a backup on the depth chart, he’s getting more snaps and impacting the game in a huge way in Buffalo’s favor. Today, he got two more sacks and lived in the Broncos’ backfield, another impressive performance.
Other guys deserve praise, too. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown are proving to be great additions. Tre’Davious White’s performances are guaranteeing at least a Pro Bowl nod. Rookie Ed Oliver’s game is finally starting to show in the box score, and even Star Lotulelei is sacking QBs. Head Coach Sean McDermott deserves credit for having his team improving throughout the year, and if it continues this way, Buffalo can become a major problem for whoever faces them in the playoffs.