The Bills traveled to Philadelphia to take on the 9–1 Eagles. Buffalo’s offense continued to show signs of dominance under Joe Brady, but it somehow wasn’t enough to take down Jalen Hurts and company.
After both teams went three-and-out to open the game, Buffalo established the run early and often. James Cook, Latavius Murray, and Ty Johnson combined for 23 yards on six carries. Cook could’ve had a touchdown, with Allen finding him deep down the sideline, but the running back dropped the pass. Consecutive false start penalties stalled the drive and moved the Bills out of field goal range.
Two penalties on Buffalo kept Philly’s next drive alive, leading to the first touchdown of the game. On 3rd and 9, the Bills were flagged for holding, and Jordan Phillips jumped offside on 4th and 1, a little too eager to defend the ‘tush push’. A 16 yard scramble from Hurts and 23 yard run from Kenneth Gainwell moved the Eagles to the one yard line. The ‘tush push’ successfully moved Hurts into the endzone to take a 7–0 lead.
Allen found Stefon Diggs down the sideline for a gain of 12 to end the first quarter. The QB ran for 11 yards to move into field goal range, and Tyler Bass drilled a 48 yarder three plays later.
Points off Turnover (Part 1)
After an incomplete pass, Hurts saw his next attempt tipped at the line of scrimmage by Leonard Floyd. Terrel Bernard plucked the ball out of the air for the takeaway. A 19 yard completion to Gabriel Davis moved the Bills inside the 10 yard line. On 1st and Goal, Allen ran up the middle on a QB draw for a nine yard touchdown to take the lead.
The Eagles gained just one first down before punting, but the Bills were unable to capitalize. A 31 yard completion to Khalil Shakir moved the team away from their own endzone, but a blatant missed pass interference call led to Allen’s 3rd down pass falling incomplete.
Greg Rousseau registered back-to-back tackles for loss to start Philly’s next drive, wrapping up D’Andre Swift and Hurts on consecutive runs. The Eagles punted after the third down pass from Hurts to AJ Brown gained just five yards.
The Bills wasted no time driving down the field. After the two-minute warning, Allen completed a 22 yard pass to Diggs and a 25 yard pass to Davis to get inside the 10 yard line. On 2nd and Goal, Allen faced pressure immediately and rolled to his right. As he was being taken down illegally with a horse-collar tackle, he attempted to throw the ball to Davis, who was standing only five yards away. Rather than throw a flag on Philly, the referees flagged Allen for intentional grounding, despite being out of the tackle box and having a receiver in the area. On 3rd and Goal from the 16, Trent Sherfield ran the wrong route, leading to Allen’s pass falling incomplete. The 34 yard attempt from Bass was blocked.
Points off Turnover (Part 2)
In what can be called a ‘ball doesn’t lie’ moment, the Bills would get the football right back. Three plays into the drive, Hurts fumbled the handoff to Swift, and Rousseau jumped on the ball to force another turnover.
The Bills were once again able to score a touchdown after their defense forced a turnover. Allen ran for a gain of 19, then found Dalton Kincaid over the middle for 14 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the 13 yard line, Allen threw a laser into a tight window, and Diggs was able to come down with the sliding catch along the goal line for the score. The Eagles would kneel the ball to end the first half, with Buffalo up 17–7.
Eagles Wake Up
The Eagles started the second half going three-and-out, but the Bills were unable to capitalize. Completions of 23 to Davis and 10 to Shakir (on 3rd and 4) moved Buffalo into field goal range. Following three straight incomplete passes, Bass missed his 48 yard attempt.
It felt like a matter of time before the Eagles looked more like themselves. A 36 yard run by Swift moved them quickly into scoring range. Hurts found his tight end Jack Stoll for a gain of 14 on 3rd and 2 to set up 1st and Goal. The Eagles ran an RPO that left AJ Brown wide open for a three yard score. Philly had made it a three point game, and they made it look easy.
The RB Drive
Buffalo was able to respond with a touchdown drive of their own, and it was a drive that saw just three different players touch the ball. Cook ran three times for 10 yards, and caught a short pass from Allen that he took for a 29 yard gain. Ty Johnson ran three times for 18 yards, consistently fighting for extra yardage by keeping his legs moving. Allen ran for seven on 3rd and 4 to extend the drive, and 16 on 3rd and 11 in which he reached the endzone for the score. On the scramble, Allen juked a linebacker that had every right to tackle him, and lowered his shoulder as he crossed the goal line to break the attempt of a defensive back.
Eagles Take the Lead
Hurts connected with Devonta Smith for a 33 yard gain to move into Buffalo territory as the third quarter ended. A 12 yard run from Hurts on 3rd and 5 kept the drive alive. Two plays later, Hurts found Smith for a 15 yard touchdown. The play action fake left the receiver open over the middle of the field.
While Allen was staring down Diggs on 2nd and 9, James Bradberry left his assignment to jump the pass, intercepting Allen for the QB’s weekly turnover. On 3rd and 15, Hurts lobbed a prayer into the endzone, and Olamide Zaccheaus out-jumped Micah Hyde to come down with the 29 yard touchdown catch. Suddenly, the Eagles had taken a 28–24 lead.
An 18 yard gain to Davis over the middle was a good start for the Bills, but Allen was sacked on 3rd and 13 to force a punt. The Eagles went three-and-out, giving Allen another chance to retake the lead.
Gabe Davis For the Win?
With just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bills would allow the clock to tick away, taking their time on the scoring drive. Cook ran for gains of 11 on back-to-back plays, then Murray ran for 13 and 6 to move into Philly territory. Allen found Murray for a gain of six on 3rd and 3 to keep the drive alive. A 14 yard completion to Diggs got them into the redzone. On 3rd and 4 from the seven yard line, Allen threw an RPO into the endzone for Davis, who had created enough separation to come down with an easy catch. The extra point from Bass gave Buffalo a 31–28 lead with under two minutes remaining.
“Icing the Kicker”
The Eagles had 1:52 and two timeouts to get into field goal range. The Bills allowed Philly to get pretty close, pretty quickly. Buffalo’s soft zone coverage allowed Hurts to dink and dunk down the field, wasting little time with his receivers consistently getting out of bounds. Hurts threw for 41 yards on five attempts to move the Eagles across midfield. A false start on Jason Kelce backed them up five yards, and forced them to use a timeout to negate a 10-second runoff. Hurts ran for just three yards on 2nd and 15, getting tackled immediately by Ed Oliver. The Eagles opted to use their last timeout to stop the clock with 30 seconds left. Another false start from Kelce pushed them back to the 41 yard line. On 3rd and long, the pass to Brown was incomplete. On 4th and 17 from the 41, the Eagles would attempt a 59 yard field goal. Before the attempt, Sean McDermott used his second timeout of the half to “ice the kicker”. However, Jake Elliott was able to drill the game tying kick despite the less than ideal weather conditions.
Rather than get the ball back with 20 seconds and two timeouts, McDermott’s “icing the kicker” timeout left the Bills with just one remaining. Rather than attempt to get into field goal range, the Bills knelt the ball to end regulation, sending this game into overtime.
OT Woes Continue
Josh Allen was 0–5 in overtime entering Sunday. His record moved to 0–6 after another heartbreaking loss. Buffalo won the toss – shout out Gabriel Davis for correctly calling “heads” – and began marching down the field. Allen found Davis down the middle for 13 yards on 3rd and 10, and ran for 15 yards on 3rd and 9 to keep the drive alive. A questionable roughing the passer flag on Philly moved Buffalo to the 26 yard line. Facing 3rd and 7, the Eagles sent an all-out, cover zero blitz. Davis beat his defender as he ran towards the endzone, but cut towards the pylon instead of the middle of the field, where Allen placed the pass. While it’s easy to chalk the play up to “miscommunication”, I think that mistake is on Davis. A cover zero blitz leaves the middle of the field completely open, so from Allen’s point of view that’s where the ball needs to go. Rather than going for it on 4th and 6, the Bills trotted the field goal unit on. Bass drilled the 40 yarder to give Buffalo the lead, but now the Eagles had a chance to tie or win the game.
Hurts found Smith for gains of 17 and 11, then a 16 yard run by Swift set them up in the redzone. On 1st and 10 from the 12, Hurts ran a QB draw to the left, where he practically walked in for the game winning touchdown.
Another amazing game, another heartbreaking loss for Buffalo. The Bills defense shut down the explosive Eagles for an entire half, but allowed points on five of seven second half drives. The decision to burn a timeout to “ice” a professional kicker rather than using it on offense with Josh Allen will be the decision I always go back to. Allen had an MVP level performance, putting the team on his back in awful rainy conditions. Joe Brady called another great game against a good defense. The change from Ken Dorsey to Brady will be the reason Buffalo makes the playoffs if they end up sneaking in.
Now sitting at 6–6, the Bills sit at a 21% chance to make the playoffs according to ESPN, and it doesn’t help that Buffalo has a tough remaining schedule while the other wild card contenders have much easier matchups left.
Offensive Player of the Game: Gabriel Davis
While I place ‘blame’ on Davis for the OT incompletion, he finished with 6 receptions for 105 yards and a TD. He led the team in targets, catches, and yards, emerging as Allen’s go-to target in crucial situations.
Defensive Player of the Game: Greg Rousseau
Rousseau finished with 4 total tackles, including three for a loss, and a fumble recovery, making the most ‘splash plays’ out of anyone on the defense.
MVP: Josh Allen
What more could you have asked of Allen? He made one mistake on 51 pass attempts, which was also a great play by Bradberry. He finished with 339 passing yards and 2 TDs, with 9 carries for 81 yards and 2 TDs. The silver lining of this loss is the fact that the MVP Josh Allen appears to be fully back.
What’s Next: Bills @ Chiefs 12/10
The Bills have a bye in Week 13, then travel to Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo has won in KC in back-to-back regular season matches, and has two weeks to prepare for Patrick Mahomes and company.
Editor’s babble: These postgame write ups by Colin Richey are deeply appreciated. You can also find Colin on Xwitter @whatthef00tball.