The most uttered phrases this week regarding the Bills game against the Minnesota Vikings on the road were “blow out”, “let’s hope they can just keep it competitive”, or how about “let’s just show signs of life”. Virtually every football fan, analyst and even Vegas betting odds had the Bills losing this game by a landslide. The Buffalo Bills had other ideas.
The Bills came out and set the tone early with an opening drive touchdown, aided by a key lowering the helmet penalty on third down. Furthermore, another key penalty by the Vikings came later in that same drive giving the Bills possession in the red zone. Then Josh Allen took it upon himself and finished off the opening drive with a ten yard run. Allen’s dive to the corner pylon gave the Bills their first lead of the 2018 season.
Buffalo wouldn’t look back because the defense kept pressuring QB Kirk Cousins early and often. DE Trent Murphy also caused a fumble on a sack recovered by Lorenzo Alexander.
On a short field, the Bills then moved the ball to the goal line on some creative play calling with a shovel pass by Allen to TE Charles Clay. Allen also threw a beautiful inside post that was dropped by Kelvin Benjamin, so they had to settle for a field goal to go up 10-0 early in the game.
The defense didn’t stop there. The Bills would then take firm control of the game with another strip sack, this time by Jerry Hughes. On the ensuing offensive possession, Allen lofted a touchdown pass to a wide open Jason Croom to put them up 17-0.
The defense relentlessly pursued Cousins, pressuring him the entire first half. Allen was making plays in the passing game and the running game, making a highlight reel hurdle over Anthony Barr to keep another first half drive going.
Another scramble led to a 55 yard catch and run by RB Chris Ivory. Allen finished off that drive with a quarterback sneak to give the Bills a 24-0 lead. The only blemish in the first half would be three illegal formation penalties, two of them on the same drive that would end in a field goal to give the Bills a 27-0 lead they would take into halftime.
The second half seemed to be more about protecting the lead as the Bills became conservative on offense, but the defense kept the pressure turned up, nearly forcing a shutout. The Vikings would finally get into the end zone with just over four minutes left. Literally no one, not even the most optimistic Bills fans gave them a chance of winning this game.
In a season that seemed to be about rebuilding, the Bills reminded everyone that they are here to compete.
This could be the type of win that turns a seemingly horrific season around. This wasn’t a fluke win off a lucky turnover or penalty. The Bills went on the road in front of a loud and hostile crowd in a dome and dominated a team with Super Bowl aspirations. They’ve been the recipient of many jokes and memes after being annihilated the first two weeks of the season.
No one is laughing now.
Editor’s babble: Please welcome Erik Smeal to our BillsMafia blog. When I asked Erik to do the Bills/Vikings game review I thought he would be writing the Bills’ obituary after the third game of the season. Wrong. Holy cats, what a game! We look forward to more contributions from Erik, especially if they have this kind of result :) You can follow Erik on Twitter @Buffwagon819.