The Buffalo Bills faced their toughest test of the young season on Sunday afternoon as hey hosted the Los Angeles Rams at Bills Stadium in a matchup of 2-0 teams.
It was an absolute roller coaster of an afternoon in Orchard Park, but another late come-from-behind drive from Bills quarterback Josh Allen proved to be the difference as Buffalo prevailed to 3-0 with a 35-32 win over one of the league’s premier teams.
Great first half performances from both the offense and defense allowed the Bills to build a commanding lead, one that grew to as large as 28-3 midway through the third quarter.
The game completely changed when Allen was intercepted by Rams safety John Johnson III late in the third quarter. The call on the play was a questionable one, but it swung the momentum completely in favor of the Los Angeles.
The Rams proceeded to come roaring back, scoring on four consecutive drives, and took a 32-28 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Allen and the Bills offense finally got things back together and came through when it mattered. The Bills ended the game with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped with Allen finding tight end Tyler Kroft for a three-yard touchdown pass, putting the Bills back in front for good.
Here are five quick observations from the game:
1.) Another solid week for Allen
Allen accounted for all five of the Bills’ touchdowns (four passing and one rushing) and threw for over 300 yards for a third consecutive week, becoming the first Buffalo quarterback to do so since Jim Kelly in 1992. The first half was definitely the more impressive of the two. Allen threw for two scores, ran for another, and was 10-for-14 with 128 yards through two quarters. The second half was a bit tougher, especially when the Rams’ pass rush came alive. Allen took a few big hits after not being sacked in the first half, one being from Aaron Donald that caused a fumble in which Los Angeles recovered. Despite the lapses in the second half, Allen stepped up when it counted and led the Bills on the 11-play game-winning drive in the final minutes.
2.) Gabriel Davis continued to establish himself as a reliable target in the Bills’ passing attack
The rookie receiver caught a career-best four passes for 81 yards against the Rams. The Buffalo receiving corps as a whole had a good afternoon. Despite John Brown missing most of the game, seven different Bills caught a pass, and five of those players recorded at least four catches. Cole Beasley led all receivers with six catches for 100 yards. Stefon Diggs had a quiet first half, but still finished with four receptions and a touchdown. Tight ends Lee Smith and Tyler Kroft accounted for the other scores, with Kroft accounting for two.
3.) A tale of two halves for the Buffalo defense
The return of Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds to the Bills’ lineup was immediately noticeable in the first half. The Rams offense moved the ball well from the start of the game, but big plays from Milano, A.J. Epensea and Taron Johnson, haulted some of Los Angeles’ early drives, keeping the Rams off the scoreboard. Levi Wallace also stepped up, just as defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he needed to earlier this week, and intercepted Jared Goff to stop another good series from the Rams. Goff and the Rams turned things around in the second half and really had the Bills defense on its heels. Los Angeles finished with over 400 yards of total offense. Certainly, Frazier and this group will have a lot to discuss as they prepare for next week.
4.) Bills run defense struggled all game
Even when they were dominating in the first half, Los Angeles running back Darrell Henderson Jr. caused all sorts of problems. When the Rams’ offense really turned it on in the second half, along with Goff, Henderson was the spearhead. Henderson led all rushers with 114 yards on 20 carries and also scored a touchdown. The Rams rushed for 167 yards as a team to Buffalo’s 101.
5.) These games are going to happen
The Bills are one of the National Football League’s top teams, and opponents are going to treat them that way. It took a while for the Rams to wake up, but that’s what a game between two good, competitive teams should look like. It’s cliché, but a good team just finds ways to win games, and maybe that’s the approach Bills fans should take with this victory. The team is 3-0, they’ve beaten division rivals and now a playoff-caliber team from the opposite conference, and they battled back to avoid a demoralizing loss. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it didn’t need to be. 3-0 is 3-0, and it feels good.
– 7-0 BILLS – Bills touchdown (1:41) – Josh Allen tosses a 1-yard touchdown pass to Lee Smith (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 11 plays, 57 yards, 6:26
– 14-0 BILLS – Bills touchdown (10:04) – Josh Allen runs for a one-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 7 plays, 66 yards, 3:55
– 14-3 BILLS – Rams field goal (3:09) – Sam Sloman’s 30-yard field goal attempt is good
o Drive info: 13 plays, 63 yards, 6:51
– 21-3 BILLS – Bills touchdown (0:38) – Josh Allen passes to Tyler Kroft for a three-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards, 2:31
– 28-3 BILLS – Bills touchdown (8:05) – Stefon Diggs catches a pass from Josh Allen for a four-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 7 plays, 52 yards, 4:16
– 28-10 BILLS – Rams touchdown (4:47) – Jared Goff rushes for a one-yard touchdown (Sam Sloman’s extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:18
– 28-17 BILLS – Rams touchdown (2:52) – Robert Woods catches a Jared Goff pass and takes it 25 yards rushes for a touchdown (Sam Sloman’s extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 3 plays, 59 yards, 1:21
– 28-25 BILLS – Rams touchdown (10:34) – Jared Goff passes to Cooper Kupp for a 16-yard touchdown (Goff passes to Tyler Higbee for successful two-point conversion)
o Drive info: 10 plays, 97 yards, 5:43
– 32-28 RAMS – Rams touchdown (4:30) – Darrell Henderson rushes for a one-yard touchdown (Sam Sloman’s extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 6 plays, 37 yards, 2:55
– 35-32 BILLS – Bills touchdown (0:15) – Josh Allen passes to Tyler Kroft for a three-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yards, 4:15
The Bills will travel to Las Vegas for a matchup with the Raiders on Sunday, Oct. 4 at Allegiant Stadium. Coverage of the Bills-Raiders matchup starts at 11 a.m. on WGR. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. Be sure to hear all the action on WGR with John Murphy, Steve Tasker and Sal Capaccio on the call.