It’s been a consistent message since Sean McDermott arrived in Buffalo. The Bills intend to be a team that wins the fourth quarter.
Sunday afternoon, the team they intend to be was on display, as the Bills came all the way back to beat the New York Jets, 17-16. Trailing 16-0 in the third quarter, and 16-3 as the fourth quarter began, the Bills needed to win the fourth quarter by 14 points. On the sideline, they looked ready. It was business as usual, no heads hanging, no finger pointing, no panic. Just talk about what they had to do next.
In the fourth quarter, the Jets ran 16 plays for 35 yards. The Bills ran 19 plays for 170 yards and two touchdowns. I’d call that winning the fourth quarter.
It’s hard to say the Bills were the better team, because mistakes matter, but the Bills clearly outplayed the Jets. The Bills offense was better, and their defense was better. The Bills had a few ugly plays, including one to give up a touchdown and another resulting in a safety. Simply ugly. A couple of Allen fumbles, and a deflected pass for another interception. Five or six really bad plays made the game close.
After a week, the Bills look a lot like what many fans expected. Solid defense that features a decent pass rush, gang tackling, and good play in the defensive backfield. An offense that features a lot of short passes and takes mid-range and deep shots as the opportunities arise. Less running by Allen, more effective running by the running backs.
Allen looked like a rookie in the first half and like a franchise quarterback in the second. Maybe we will look back and say that the second half of the Jets game was when he came of age, but I doubt it. I think we will see more of the rookie in weeks to come. He still has a lot to learn.
Can we put aside the concerns about Allen’s accuracy? 24 for 37, balls on the money all day long, including some pretty throws along the sideline, and including the back-shoulder TD to Brown to win the game.
How about his poise? Ran the no huddle beautifully, getting the play called, directing traffic and throwing the ball all over the field. It was a great performance by Allen, mistakes notwithstanding.
Allen needs to slide.
Man, the Bills threw multiple looks at the Jets: Empty backfields, different wideout packages, three tight ends, DiMarco split wide. Brian Daboll seems to have free rein to get creative.
Some impressions from MetLife Stadium:
1. Ran into Harrison Philips’ mom tailgating before the game. She was easy to spot in the #99 jerseys she and her friends were wearing. Very nice lady.
2. After one of Singletary’s several nice fourth quarter runs, a Jets fan sitting near me said “We can’t stop that guy.”
3. Spotted Terry Pegula on the sideline during warmups before the game. He was chatting with Chris Johnson, one of the Jets owners, then with some of the Bills personnel on the sideline. He seems like such a nice guy.
4. The Jets show The Red Zone on the big screen during most of the game. It’s great! They also have cheerleaders, called the Flight Crew. A woman in front of me was wearing “Flight Crew Mom” tee shirt.
5. It’s really loud in MetLife, when fans bother to make noise, which is only occasionally. On the first few plays of the game, noisy. On big third downs, noisy. The rest of the time, not so much.
6. Veteran leadership? After Brown’s touchdown, before the extra point, the defense began gathering on the sideline, preparing to make the last stop. Kurt Coleman stopped Ed Oliver, got face to face, looked him in the eye and talked to him. He raised his hands, pointed at his own head, and tapped his temples two or three times, clearly telling Oliver to calm down and use his head. Coleman knew it was a big moment for a rookie, he knew he wasn’t going to be on the field but he could contribute. Cool.
7. I miss Shady. And Devin Singletary was giving me a lot of reason to miss him in the first half. Second half? Oh, yeah! Sweet moves.
8. Bills’ defense sat at the right end of the bench, right in front of me. Saw:
a. Shaq Lawson dancing on the sideline to music piped into the stadium, chatting briefly with a couple of young women in the stands in front of me. Only guy I saw not focused on the game.
b. Lorenzo Alexander talking about something they needed to do. All business.
c. Ed Oliver energized. He was amped.
d. Hyde up and down the bench getting every one ready as the Bills were driving for the winning score.
9. You know how several players on kickoff coverage complete the run by trotting into the end zone on a touchback? Not Maurice Alexander. He SPRINTS to the end zone. The guy wants to be out there.
10. Tremaine Edmunds is a big man, and yes, he’s a lot better against the run this season.
11. He isn’t a Bill, but Le’Veon Bell deserves a nod. That guy is a football player. The Bills had their hands full but kept him under control, mostly.
It was too close, but there’s a “1” in the Win column, and on the first Sunday night of the season, that’s all that matters. It’s only one game, but we saw a lot to like against the Jets. And the Bills will get better.
The Rockpile Review is written to share the passion we have for the Buffalo Bills. That passion was born in the Rockpile; its parents were everyday people of western New York who translated their dedication to a full day’s hard work and simple pleasures into love for a pro-football team.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Mark Korber for sharing his observations after attending the game. Always good to get some feedback about what’s happening on the sidelines. You can’t find Mark on Twitter but you can find him posting at twobillsdrive.com’s Stadium Wall message board.