The Buffalo Bills made a definitive statement on Sunday afternoon, topping the NFC front-runners from Seattle in convincing fashion.
The Buffalo Bills were able to silence both the 12th Man and, perhaps, their biggest detractors on Sunday afternoon, earning one of the memorable victories in recent franchise memory on Sunday afternoon.
Josh Allen was responsible for four touchdowns and earned 415 yards through the air, while Stefon Diggs and John Brown united for 227 receiving yards. On defense, the Bills took down Russell Wilson five times (Tremaine Edmunds being responsible for half of that tally) and also forced the renowned Super Bowl champion into two interceptions, paving the way to a 44-34 victory at Bills Stadium. Buffalo (7-2) is off to their best start since 1993…the year of their last Super Bowl appearance. They took down a Seahawks team (6-2) that had entered the day atop the NFC playoff standings.
The gravity of the victory wasn’t lost on observers.
“It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Sunday’s win could be a tone-setter for the Bills,” Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport noted. “They’re after more than just an AFC East title in 2020. This is a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations, and they showed against the Seahawks that they can take it to one of the better teams in the NFL.”
ESM looks back at the big plays of Sunday’s game, one from each quarter, that could help shape the team’s past, present, and apparently bright future…
1st Quarter: Let’s Hear For the Poyer
The opening frame was a statement for Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense. It was a showing that saw them drastically outplay Seattle, torching the defense for 117 yards over their first two possessions en route to a 14-0 lead. But Seattle has built up their past-decade dominance through adapting to tough situations. Sure enough, Wilson guided the Seahawks to Buffalo’s five-yard-line, facing a single-yard fourth down five yards away from paydirt. It was at that point many expected Seattle to score and restore some semblance of sanity to the proceedings. Alas for The Emerald City, Poyer had other plans.
With Wilson working on his deadly rollout, Poyer started off by keeping an eye on Travis Homer. But the strong Buffalo pass rush forced Wilson to scramble. In slight desperation, he flung a pass that went over the head of Homer and into the waiting arms of Poyer, setting Western New York into hysterics. The Bills would take advantage of the mistake and build their lead back up to 17-0.
It’s perhaps a shame we won’t be having the Pro Bowl this season, as Poyer seems well on his way to making his first. Alas for the NFL’s all-star game, it appears he has his sights set on a bigger bowl of sorts.
2nd Quarter: All-in for Allen
The foreboding sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop has been far too commonplace in 2020. Certainly, the heads of Bills fans across the area were waiting to wake up, thrust away from the dream of owning a three-possession lead on a team many envision topping the NFC at the end of the year. Such leads are entirely erasable in today’s NFL, and Seattle seemed poised to finally do so after scoring a touchdown after the aforementioned Tyler Bass field goal.
It was gut-check time for Buffalo, a team teetering on the cusp of the NFL’s elite. In years past, a collapse may have followed, one that would’ve kept the Bills’ doubters plenty of material. Instead, they embarked on a 75-yard drive that featured the face of their franchise taking another big step on the glory. Josh Allen went 5-for-5 on the next drive, capping things off with a four-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Davis.
It’s been an emotional week for Allen, who lost his grandmother Patricia shortly before the Seattle effort. But Bills fans have come through for their franchise quarterback, donating over $200,000 to a children’s hospital in her honor. Allen seems more than happy to return the love, giving the vocal Bills’ fanbase a reason to hope and believe in a cursed year.
3rd Quarter: Playing the Neal
The Bills’ defense had their own gut check in the latter stages of the third quarter. Their lead was back down to 27-17 and Seattle was driving, inching toward another sense of football normalcy. Buffalo had already shot themselves in the foot earlier in the drive, as Jerry Hughes’ roughing the passer call situated the Seahawks inside their opponent’s 30.
But the Bills held strong with a big stand, as the touchdown threat ended when Wilson’s pass on third-and-seven failed to reach Tyler Lockett in the end zone. Wilson was forced into a desperation heave by secondary pressure from Siran Neal, who came off the edge to push Wilson into a crowded pocket, leading to his inaccurate throw and the Seahawks’ second field goal of the day. It was the last time that Buffalo would truly have to sweat things out; the Bills’ offense would score another touchdown on their next possession, this one being a one-yard rush from Zack Moss, to put them ahead by multiple possessions for good.
4th Quarter: What Can Brown Do For You?
Sunday’s tilt was a game of gut checks, of proving oneself, of impressing the NFL community at large…sending a theme here? But noting such occurrences only strengthens the case that the Bills are one of the NFL’s most dangerous, most elite teams to be reckoned with. They had one more hoops to jump through after the aforementioned Jason Myers field goal, as a six-yard rushing loss had them situated at a 16-yard third down at the fringe of field goal territory.
The ensuing playcall was curious…an Allen screen to John Brown just behinf the line of scrimmage. But the Bills would go on to continue what they’ve done best: prove doubters wrong through team efforts.
Brown’s speed and elusiveness was just one factor behind the play’s success. Strong blocking ahead from Daryl Williams and Ike Boettger helped clear the way, and receiver Cole Beasley even managed to delay a Seattle defender from stopping Brown short. The struggling veteran Brown, seeking some 2020 traction after earning a career-best 1,060 yards last season, was stopped two yards short of the goal line, but the Bills settled the matter shortly after with another minuscule scoring run from Moss.
The defensive effort perhaps left something to be desired, giving up 34 points, but each of the Bills’ gamechanging plays were a team built on resiliency, strength, and collaborative endeavors. It led to what could bar none be the franchise’s biggest, loudest win over the past decade-plus.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags