In the most improbable of collapses, followed by an equally improbable comeback, the Bills beat the Rams in a game that will remembered for a long time and go down as an instant classic. It looked for a while like I’d be starting with the arrows down, but ultimately, it’s the Arrows Up for the third time this season:
• Josh Allen
The Bills quarterback put up impressive numbers once again, and had another fourth quarter comeback win. Allen finished 24-for-33 (72.7%) for 311 yards with 4 touchdown passes and one interception. He also ran for another touchdown, accounting for 5 total TDs on the day and giving him 10 passing TDs and 12 total TDs in only three games this season. Allen Became the first Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly to throw for over 300 yards in three straight games.
• Gabriel Davis
The rookie wide receiver has been impressive since the minute he showed up a training camp. He’s continued to be just that through the first three games. In this one, Davis had to play a lot more than maybe anticipated after John Brown went out with a calf injury. And he made plays again. Davis finished with 4 catches for 81 yards (a gaudy 20.3 yard average), including a sensational sideline grab when he was able to keep both feet in, somehow, as he was falling out of bounds.
• Devin Singletary
With Zack Moss out, Singletary got the bulk of the work. He finished with 13 carries for 71 yards (a terrific 5.5 yard per carry average) and added another 50 yards on 4 catches. But it was his open field running and ability to make Rams defenders miss tackles that really stood out. There were a few times he was caught for a loss or no gain, and not only made something out of it, but even huge gains to put the Bills in great position.
• Cole Beasley
Beasley was money when Josh Allen and the offense needed him most, catching several passes in key situations, and finishing with 6 grabs for exactly 100 yards.
• Levi Wallace bouncing back
The overall pass defense numbers for the Bills were not good, but Wallace was much-maligned by fans and media throughout the week for his game last Sunday at Miami. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during the week that if Wallace wanted people to stop picking on him he needed to make a play. He did just that in the early second quarter, picking off Jared Goff. That interception led directly to a Bills touchdown. Wallace added 9 total tackles.
• Corey Bojorquez
Bojorquez had only two punts. The first pinned the Rams at their own 13 with a fair catch. The second went 72 yards! And it pinned them at their own 3 yard line.
• Tyler Bass
Bass didn’t have any field goal opportunities, but he did have five extra point attempts, and it turned out all of them were important. The rookie kicker drilled them all despite hey swirling wind inside Bills Stadium. He also forced five touchbacks on six kickoffs.
• Andre Roberts
The Bills didn’t have one drive start inside there own 25. Several were from touchbacks, but Roberts had two returns totaling 73 yards, an average of 36.5yards per return. He didn’t have any punt return chances.
• Tyler Kroft
Filling in for the injured Dawson Knox, Kroft caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner, grabbing it with his fingertips and able to come down and secure it with only 15-seconds left.
• 4th down touchdown
With the Bills driving in a scoreless first quarter, they faced a goal-to-go situation. It was a wild sequence that saw to Josh Allen touchdown passes get called back. One because it was actually incomplete and the other due to a penalty. Then, facing a fourth down and goal from the 1 yard line, instead of electing to kick the field goal, Sean McDermott went for it, and it paid off. Allen hit Lee Smith for a TD. If McDermott had elected to kick the field goal instead, they most likely would not have been in position to win the game at the end.
• 3rd and 22
In what may so far be the play of the year for the Bills, on the final drive, down four points, they faced a 3rd and 22 with less than four minutes to play. Allen stood in the pocket and let the play develop. Even as it was collapsing, he stepped up and drilled a dart to Cole Beasley, who grabbed it and turned upfield, just enough to get the first down. That’s what big-time players do in big-time situations.
• Diggs TD on Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey didn’t cover Stefon Diggs all afternoon. But he did on 3rd and goal in the third quarter, and Diggs ran a great route and caught a touchdown pass against him. Considering Ramsey’s past comments calling Bills’ QB Josh Allen “trash,” having that touchdown go specifically against him made it that much sweeter.
• Red zone offense
The Bills came into the game only converting 50% of their red zone trips into touchdowns, tied for 6th worst in the NFL. They were 5-for-5 on Sunday!
• Matt Milano
On a rough day fir the defense, Milano stood out in a positive way. He was all over the field, collecting 8 total tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, 2 QB pressures, and a pass breakup.
• AJ Epenesa’s first career sack
The rookie defensive end chased down Goff and got him behind the line of scrimmage for his first career NFL sack. It was good to see after the second round pick was inactive in week one and played sparingly in week two.
• 25-point lead given up
I’ve been following the Bills since I was a child and I’ve never seen them give up a lead like they did on Sunday. But it wasn’t just the lead given up, it was how quickly and easily it seemed to happen. The Bills led 28-3 with 8:05 left in the third quarter. They were in complete control. They had a west coast team dead and buried, ready to send them packing early and want to get back home. But they gave up a quick 8-play drive for a TD, got intercepted (albeit on a controversial call), then gave up an even quicker 3-play TD drive, then went three-and-out. The Rams scored agin and the lead had basically evaporated. It was stunning, especially for a Sean McDermott coached team, a McDermott/Leslie Frazier coached defense, and an offense that could seemingly do whatever they wanted until things turned.
• Run defense
There’s no way around it, the Bills run defense got gashed for most of the game. They gave up 167 yards rushing and 5.2 yards per carry. The Rams offensive line dominated them at the point of attack.
• Defending Rams wide receivers
Coming into the game there was big concern about the Rams tight ends beating the Bills after what Mike Gesicki of the Dolphins did last week. But it was their inability to defend the wideouts that was much more of the issue. Tight ends only caught 6 passes for 74 yards, which the Bills defense can live with. But Rams receivers combined for 18 catches for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns. Far too much given up by a normally solid Bills secondary.
• 3rd quarter…..again
Fir the third straight week, the Bills’ worst quarter was the third quarter. This time, they actually came out of the locker room and scored on their first drive of the second half (their first 3rd quarter TD of the season), so it looked like things were going to change. But after that, it was all Rams. Los Angeles outgained the Bills 183-64 in the 3rd quarter, and the Bills allowed a pair of touchdowns. The Bills had one yard rushing in the 3rd quarter.
• Josh Allen’s unsportsmanlike penalty
Allen was understandably frustrated at what he thought should have been a penalty against the Rams on a sack. But when nothing was called he said something he shouldn’t have to the official and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The passion by Josh is exactly what fans want to see. But the penalty cost his team another 15 yards on top of the lost fumble that occurred on the play, giving the Rams their drive start at the Bills 37 yard line.
• 3rd down defense
The Rams faced 10 third downs. They converted 6 of them into first downs. That’s of course 60%. To give you a perspective on that number, the top 3rd down conversion team in the NFL this season going into week two (Raiders) had converted about 57% of their 3rd downs. The Rams were even better than that.
• Offensive line in 2nd half/Aaron Donald
The first half went smoothly for the Bills. They scored three touchdowns, had 199 yards of offense, and Allen wasn’t sacked at all. But the second half was a much different story. They had trouble opening running lanes and there was far too much pressure on Allen. He was sacked four times and constantly avoiding pressure. And up until the final game-winning drive, the Bills had a total of 79 net yards in the entire second half. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was incredible in the second half. The Bills had no answer for him. After only registering 2 total tackles in the first half, Donald had 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 QB hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery just in the second half alone.
The officiating was bad in this game. A pivotal call was allowing an interception to stand when Tyler Kroft seemed to clearly possess the ball when he hit the ground, but the Rams defender then took it away after. That was a huge turning point that sparked the Los Angeles comeback. It was also Allen’s first and only interception thrown this season.
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