The Buffalo Bills improved to 4-0 on Sunday afternoon with an impressive 30-23 win over the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.
For the majority of the game, the Bills found themselves in another wire-to-wire battle. But another fourth quarter resurgence for Buffalo led to a hard-fought victory on the road.
Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense got off to a hot start yet again. The Bills never built a lead as large as the 25-point advantage they held over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3, but things appeared to be headed that way early on, especially when Buffalo took a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
As far as points against go, the Bills defense had a bounce back game. However, the unit had its struggles throughout the afternoon, allowing Las Vegas to hang around and keep the score close.
After another lackluster third quarter, Allen opened the final frame with a rushing touchdown to extend the Bills’ lead to 23-16.
Cornerback Josh Norman, who made his team debut for the Bills on Sunday after being on injured reserve for the first three games, made a huge play on the Raiders’ next possession, forcing the ball out of tight end Darren Waller’s hands for a fumble, which the Buffalo defense recovered.
The Bills took advantage of the turnover in quick fashion, scoring in just four plays on the next drive. A two-yard rushing touchdown by Devin Singletary stretched the lead to 30-16 with 11:17 to go in the fourth quarter.
The two quick touchdowns by the Bills in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter swung the momentum completely back in their favor.
The Raiders had some chances to get back in the game and make things interesting. Derek Carr found Nelson Agholor for a seven-yard passing touchdown with 1:29 left to make it a one-score game, but that was as close as Las Vegas would get, as the Bills were able to kneel-out the clock.
Here are five quick observations from the game:
1.) Another hot start for the offense
The Bills, once again, came sprinting out of the gates to start the game. Allen and company marched down the field with ease on the first few possessions, scoring touchdowns on the first two drives.
Allen’s first quarter was, arguably, his best, completing 9-of-11 passes for 111 yards with a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis.
Allen also got Stefon Diggs involved early on with two passes on the opening scoring drive. Diggs finished the game with six receptions for 115 yards, both were team-highs.
Allen may not have had his best overall game of the season. His 288 passing yards is the lowest total in any of the four games so far in 2020, but Allen got the Bills in front early and he stepped up late in the game when it mattered, once again.
2.) Bills defense’s “bend, but don’t break” trend continues
For the second straight week, despite having an early lead, the Buffalo defense struggled to consistently stop the opponent. The Raiders’ first two drives were solid, but big stops on third down by the Bills forced Las Vegas to settle for field goals on both.
While the offense kept putting points on the board, the defense allowed the Raiders to stay alive. Jason Witten’s three-yard touchdown catch with 13 seconds left in the first half was a perfect example.
The sluggish play continued in the third quarter, similar to last week against the Rams. However, the defense turned it around in the fourth quarter. Josh Norman and Quinton Jefferson both forced fumbles that were recovered by the Bills in the final frame; two huge plays that led to Buffalo being able to hold on.
3.) Bills run defense has a bounce back game
After being completely rolled over by the Rams’ rushing attack last week, the Bills run defense had to perform better against the Raiders, a team with a middle-of-the-road rushing offense. Las Vegas star running back Josh Jacobs, who was praised by a number of Bills players and coaches during the week, was held to just 48 yards on 15 carries and was kept out of the end zone.
The Raiders rushed for just 86 yards as a team, well below the 125 yards per-game average they had coming into the matchup. Jacobs was held in check from the get-go, rushing for just seven yards in the first quarter and 24 in the whole first half.
4.) The third quarter continues to be a struggle
The Bills’ meltdown in the third quarter against the Rams last weekend was alarming. While this week’s third quarter didn’t see a 25-point lead slip away, it was still concerning.
The defense came out of the locker room after halftime seemingly sluggish again. The Raiders put together an 11-play scoring drive that took up the first 6:24 of the third quarter, however, it only led to another Daniel Carlson field goal. That field goal was the only three points scored by either team in the third quarter, but the Bills struggled on both sides of the ball before coming alive in the fourth.
5.) Norman made a huge impact in his team debut
Bills cornerback Levi Wallace stepped up last week and recorded an interception against the Rams. This week, it was Josh Norman’s turn to make a huge play in the secondary.
Ironically, Norman came in after Wallace left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Norman, who made his Bills debut on Sunday after missing the first three games due to a hamstring injury, made, arguably, the biggest play of the game for Buffalo, forcing and recovering a fumble with 12:39 left in the fourth quarter. That play gave the Bills the football back just after they stretched the lead to 23-16.
Singletary scored, what would be, the game-winning touchdown just four plays after Norman’s forced turnover.
– 7-0 BILLS – Bills touchdown (10:37) – Josh Allen passes to Gabriel Davis for a 26-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards, 4:23
– 7-3 BILLS – Raiders field goal (5:07) – Daniel Carlson’s 54-yard field goal attempt is good
o Drive info: 12 plays, 48 yards, 5:35
– 14-3 BILLS – Bills touchdown (14:48) – Josh Allen passes to Cole Beasley for an 11-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yards, 5:14
– 14-6 BILLS – Raiders field goal (9:43) – Daniel Carlson’s 39-yard field goal attempt is good
o Drive info: 12 plays, 54 yards, 5:10
– 17-6 BILLS – Bills field goal (4:13) – Tyler Bass’ 34-yard field goal attempt is good
o Drive info: 11 plays, 59 yards, 5:25
– 17-13 BILLS – Raiders touchdown (0:13) – Derek Carr passes to Jason Witten for a three-yard touchdown (Daniel Carlson’s extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yards, 4:00
– 17-16 BILLS – Raiders field goal (8:41) – Daniel Carlson’s 25-yard field goal attempt is good
o Drive info: 11 plays, 68 yards, 6:19
– 23-16 BILLS – Bills touchdown (14:49) – Josh Allen rushes up the middle for a one-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is no good)
o Drive info: 6 plays, 45 yards, 2:34
– 30-16 BILLS – Bills touchdown (11:17) – Devin Singletary rushes for a two-yard touchdown (Tyler Bass’ extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 4 plays, 60 yards, 1:11
– 30-23 BILLS – Raiders touchdown (1:29) – Derek Carr passes to Nelson Agholor for a seven-yard touchdown (Daniel Carlson’s extra point attempt is good)
o Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards, 2:02
The Bills will travel to Tennessee for a matchup with the Titans on Sunday, Oct. 11 at Nissan Stadium. Coverage of the Bills-Titans matchup starts at 7 a.m. on WGR. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., so be sure to hear all the action on WGR with John Murphy, Steve Tasker and Sal Capaccio on the call.