As a Bills fan, back to back games where I don’t feel cardiac levels of stress is about as good as it gets. The Broncos are not a top level team (nor are the Dolphins) but the Denver defense had proven to be very good in in their first 10 games and in Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay they have weapons.
What we witnessed at New Era on Sunday though was a total beatdown, even if the score didn’t necessarily reflect it. Chew on some of these tasty stats for a while: 424 yards of offense to 134 for Denver, 244 yards of rushing to 85, 180 yards of passing to 49!
Want some more? The Bills defense allowed NO first downs the last 25 minutes of the game, Denver was only 2 of 11 on 3rd down conversions and the Bills had 4 sacks (after having 7 last week) and 1 takeaway. THAT is domination and THAT is what good teams do to bad teams. We all have been looking for it. Well it arrived.
On to things I didn’t like and liked:
What I disliked (there aren’t many):
- 12 penalties. It really was the only thing that kept the game close. The pre snap ones on both offense and defense and the special teams ones drove me nuts. It also was annoying that CBS had no inclination (or perhaps the number of cameras needed) to show replays. Bad field position in the first half was directly attributable to them. Those long drive field goals perhaps become touchdowns if they don’t have to sustain them for extra yards due to the penalties.
- Time management at the end of the first half. Between penalties and not seeming to know whether they were going to push for a score or play to get into halftime it was a mess. At least no harm came from it.
- Faking running a play on 4th down and under 5 to try to draw Denver offsides. I know when it’s coming and I would suspect any team that is in the NFL and prepares would too.
- Calling a timeout after faking a 4th down attempt from inside Denver’s territory. The game was in hand but I just don’t like McDermott’s tendency to blow through timeouts when it is really not needed. It likely also made it harder on the punter by narrowing the amount of space he had to pooch it down deep.
- The injury to Robert Foster. I feel for him. He had made two big plays in the game (and the eliteness of his size and speed jumped off the screen) and then, boom, a hamstring injury. After waiting nearly the whole season to see him incorporated into this offense it is a shame to see him get injured just as they were starting to figure out a role for him.
What I liked:
- Tre’Davious White erasing Courtland Sutton, the primary big play threat for Denver. After allowing an early 27 yard completion, White was all over him, contesting passes and making life miserable for Brandon Allen. White has really played at a very high level all year and is going to be a wealthy young man if he continues.
- Matt Milano. He was especially noticeable in the 1st half, snuffing out screens and making tackles all over the field. The Bills defense plays really well when Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are on their games and it struggles when those two struggle. Given their youth, it is cause for hope.
- Josh Allen, the offense in general, Cole Beasley, the offensive line and Brian Daboll. That was a systematic slice and dice of a very stout defense. Allen’s ability to make third down conversions with his feet and with throws to Beasley in the first half to sustain long drives was instrumental to the outcome. Daboll seemed in command of the Denver defense all day and while there were no “big plays” till the touchdown to John Brown, they executed at a higher level than they have all year and consistently made yards and plays. They stuck to the run all day too and the offensive line, despite missing Mitch Morse due to injury, played outstanding. Props to Jon Feliciano and Spencer Long for some really good fill in work.
- Cody Ford. It was a tough test going against Von Miller and while he had help with chips from the running backs, he held his own. Miller certainly didn’t take over the game.
- Devin Singletary. Not just for his running (first 100 yard day on the ground) but for doing an good job stepping up and pass blocking against blitzes. It is noticeable that he sticks his nose in there and does what needs to be done. There were times he got overpowered by larger players but at least he was in the right spot and slowed them up before they could completely blow a play up.
- Shaq Lawson was a man possessed. Two sacks where the Broncos failed to account for him and hurries on all the screens that headed his way. High energy, high effort that was noticeable.
- The ball placement on Allen’s throw to Beasley that got the Bills deep into the red zone in the first half. He lead him perfectly and enabled him to maximize the gain on the play. We haven’t always seen that from Allen these last 2 years and it is very encouraging.
- Corey Bojorquez’s punting. He dropped punts inside the 20 repeatedly and one couldn’t ask for too much more. The consistency was excellent.
- Good consistent punt returning from Andre Roberts. He inspires confidence. I like that he heads straight rather than sideways and gives himself a chance to break a big one.
- Frank Gore becoming the 3rd all time leading rusher. That is an amazing accomplishment.
The Bills have taken care of business against two opponents they needed to beat to have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs and they did it in fine style. It is encouraging to me that they did not slip up against lesser opponents as they have done so many times in the past dark days.
The Bills, in my opinion, are well coached and well coordinated. They are growing as a team and the execution levels on both sides of the ball the last two weeks has been elevated and outstanding. They will need to play at that level to have any chance to win these next 4 weeks. If they do, especially on defense, there is no reason they can’t.
We here in WNY pine for national recognition and praise for our team. I think the members of the team do too. This year the Bills are still an afterthought nationally.
The bloviating pundits still bring up the schedule deficiencies when mentioning them. If the Bills want national attention I might suggest to them that they win the next two games (at least). They’ll be rolling in national attention if they do.
Editor’s babble: Couldn’t agree more that the next couple of games are going to bring a lot of attention if they win. Thanks to Joe Tauriello for all his terrific contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello. Happy Thanksgiving!