The Buffalo Bills snatched a victory away from the Minnesota Vikings, thanks to a last-second Sammy Watkins touchdown reception in a game they probably should’ve lost. The Bills’ defense was gashed for over 100 yards for the first time this season, as the electric rookie running back Jerick McKinnon exploited Buffalo’s linebackers crowding the middle of the field.
On offense, both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson suffered significant injuries, with Spiller’s being season-ending while Jackson’s will require at least a few weeks of rehab, according to reports. Without two of the most talented running backs in the league, the Bills’ offense struggled mightily, turning the ball over four times while surrendering six sacks.
Here’s what stood out to me throughout the game
Sammy Watkins is the real deal
After a week of scorching hot takes surrounding the utilization of Sammy Watkins, the dynamic playmaker topped 100 yards for the second time this season, catching 9-of-14 passes targeted in his direction for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winner with one second left.
Watkins was consistently able to get off of Xavier Rhodes’ press coverage at the line of scrimmage and beat him over the top and over his face throughout the game. It’s very early, but every week we’re seeing why Sammy Watkins was deserving of the pre-draft hype.
Offensive line struggles continue
The book appears to be out on the Buffalo Bills’ offensive weakness. New England brought pressure up the middle last week and destroyed rookie left guard Cyril Richardson and right guard Erik Pears and Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer definitely saw that film.
Minnesota brought a ton of A-gap pressure with Anthony Barr, in addition to using Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd on tackle-end (TEX) stunts that confused and exploited Cordy Glenn and Cyril Richardson. Griffen and Floyd combined for 13 tackles and four sacks against the poor duo.
Bills’ Defensive Line Continues to Dominate
The Bills arguably have the best defensive line in football and the entire unit lived up to that label on Sunday. Marcell Dareus picked up two sacks, giving him seven on the year through seven games. His career high is 7.5.
Jerry Hughes continues to be a force on the edge in his hybrid role, using both two and three-point stances to rush the passer. Hughes continued to ball against a weak left tackle in Matt Kalil, picking up 1.5 sacks and making some big stops against the run. Mario Williams also showed up with a huge third-down sack and batted away a swing pass as well.
This was a game that the Bills probably should’ve lost, but strong defense and an impressive touchdown drive in the closing seconds allowed the team to get back above .500. Next week, the Bills take on the New York Jets, who are coming off of a close loss to the Patriots on Thursday Night Football. The Jets boast a dominant defensive line with three players in Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, all of which need to be accounted for. Hopefully the Bills can correct the issues that caused so many struggles against the Vikings.