The Bills are rolling now. They rolled over the Broncos in Denver on Saturday, 48-19. In the process, they sent a simple message to the NFL: We’re ready. Every game.
The Bills now are looking like a premier NFL team. Except for the last-second loss to Arizona, the Bills haven’t lost in two months. In a statement game last week, they manhandled the Steelers. This week, against a beatable team, they needed a win to clinch the AFC East division title. They dominated.
The Bills’ mistakes were one measure of how good the Bills were. There was Andre Roberts’ muffed punt, Allen’s sack fumble, the failed fourth and one play deep in the red zone, and stretches when the Bills looked like they were in an NFL officials’ training film, demonstrating rule violations: offensive pass interference, holding, illegal procedure. The penalties came in bunches, and multiple touchdowns were called back. Still, even though the halftime score was close, the game wasn’t. The Bills were in control, and they proved it in the third quarter.
Josh Allen didn’t have his best game, but it didn’t matter. He missed Knox high, missed Diggs high, too. He threw rockets when sometimes more touch was needed. Still, “not his best game” was more than good enough and sometimes breathtaking. Some of those rockets were spectacular. The touchdown to Knox was one – it was all Knox could do to keep the ball from ripping through his hands before he secured it. The touchdown to Kumerow was another. For most NFL quarterbacks, that throw was an interception waiting to happen, as two defenders were quickly closing the window. Allen saw it and knew he could get the ball through to Kumerow before the defenders arrived. It was a terrific throw. The deep ball to Diggs was too beautiful for words.
Allen managed the pocket well, knowing when he could wait and when he needed to move. His scramble to the right and throw as he was going down was the kind of play that only elite players make. Allen ran effectively, too. He navigated the middle of the field for his first touchdown, and he recognized and took the edge for his second.
He’s just so good.
And so is Diggs. Unstoppable in man coverage, with hands that are among the best the league has seen. It’s only a matter of time before he uncorks a massive run after catch. Awesome.
The defense couldn’t hold after the Roberts’ muff, and they gave up a drive to end the half. Not perfect. But other than those two scores, there wasn’t much to complain about. Leslie Frazier masterfully mixed the calls and kept Drew Lock uncomfortable all afternoon.
One of those calls erased any doubt about who was in control. The Bills opened the second half with a big return from Roberts and a quick seven-play, 45-yard TD drive. After the kickoff, Lock dropped back to pass, and Tre’Davious White looped all the way around behind Lock to make the hit and force the fumble. Jerry Hughes outhustled Taron Johnson for the ball, and then the fun began. We’ve seen Hughes carrying the ball before. He sees the field well, and he can change direction. Weaving through would-be tacklers like a cross between Barry Sanders and a couch potato, Hughes found the end zone. Game over.
The rest of the game was fun plays (Singletary’s touchdown run was almost as masterful as Hughes’s). For the game, the offense piled up more than 500 total yards, more than doubling what the defense allowed. By the end, the look on Lock’s face said “Get me out of here.”
The fourth quarter saw a series of troubling, apparently small injuries, to White and Diggs and Wallace and Epenesa. Williams had left the game earlier, and Hyde was returning punts late, in place of Roberts. The Bills are hoping nothing is too serious, and they’re fortunate to have a couple of games remaining that, although important, aren’t true must-win. It will be time to get healthy. Oh, yeah, note to league: If you think Kumerow looks like a new threat in the passing game, better watch some film of John Brown; he’ll be back.
What’s important about the remaining games? Well, there’s symbolic importance at Foxboro next week. McDermott and the Bills don’t care about symbolic importance, but the fans do. It’s been a great season so far; a win over the Patriots, punctuating the end of Patriot dominance, would indeed be sweet. What McDermott and the Bills DO care about is home field in the playoffs. With the division win, they are assured one game in Orchard Park. If they can win the final two games, and if Pittsburgh loses one, the Bills would be assured two in Orchard Park, and possibly three, if they can keep winning.
It’s been a long time coming. The Bills have arrived.
Editor’s babble: Oh so sweet the victory. Thanks to Mark Korber who captures it all so well. You can’t find Mark on Twitter, but you can find him posting on twobillsdrive.com’s Stadium Wall Message Board.