Ryan Reaves revelry defines Rangers’ latest win

Ryan Reaves’ birthday celebration guided the New York Rangers back from a 3-1 deficit at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Aside from joining the New York Rangers in the latter stages of their respective NHL careers, Ryan Reaves and Wayne Gretzky don’t appear in the same sentence very often. Wednesday night provided a welcome exception.

Gretzky was among the first people that Reaves spoke to after the latter played a major role in the modern Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. Reaves helped the Rangers (26-10-4) erase a pair of two-goal deficits with two scores of his own, earning his first tallies as a Blueshirt in the comeback effort. It was his first multi-goal game since April 2013, when he netted two as a member of the St. Louis Blues.

Reaves’ reward was a postgame interview with the “NHL on TNT” crew, featuring Gretzky and his fellow analysts Paul Bissonnette and Anson Carter, as well as host Liam McHugh.

As if his first New York goals weren’t enough of a birthday present for Reaves, whose Wednesday heroics came mere hours before he turned 35, he was interviewed by the legendary Gretzky on the MSG ice. Gretzky informed Reaves that everyone in TNT’s Atlanta studio was pulling for him to earn one of the most unexpected hat tricks in recent NHL memory. Known more for his physicality, Reaves has earned 51 goals in 12 seasons.

To the credit of Reaves’ Ranger teammates, they tried all they could to get Reaves a third goal after Toronto pulled goalie Jack Campbell in the final minutes of the third period. It got to the point where Reaves’ fellow Blueshirts encouraged him to stay on the ice to get that final tally.

Reaves, however, was eager to get back to the bench for his own sake.

“The bench kept telling me to stay out. I was like ‘stay out’? I’m going to be in the middle of the ice just in a coma!” Reaves told the TNT crew with a laugh. “I don’t need that!”

Reaves’ first Ranger goals were a long time coming. Though he was brought in for his physicality, he had several scoring opportunities over the recent prior games. He previously had two-points efforts (coming through assists) on Nov. 24 against the Islanders and Dec. 7 in Chicago.

Wednesday’s nationally televised showcase provided a great opportunity for the Rangers’ fourth line, also featuring Greg McKegg and Kevin Rooney. McKegg earned the primary assist on Reaves’ first goal and the group earned a plus-2 mark on the evening. The unit’s Wednesday efforts drew praise from defending Norris winner Adam Fox, who had two goals and an assist.

“That line has brought energy when needed and it hasn’t always resulted in goals, but when you see them get rewarded like that, it obviously lifts the whole team up,” Fox told Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “Big goals, too. Credit to that line. They were unreal tonight.”

Fox had the secondary assist on Reaves’ first goal. His second, coming early in the second period, ignited a streak of five unanswered Ranger goals.

The efforts were highlighted by Reaves, who earned his first goal since March 17 of last season, his last of four years with the Vegas Golden Knights. His New York arrival afforded him a reunion with head coach Gerard Gallant, who, like Reaves, was part of the original Vegas group that went to the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion team in 2018.

Reaves’ scoring efforts were well-celebrated by his teammates, with whom he has formed a strong sense of chemistry and camaraderie. In the lead-up to Toronto’s visit, the Rangers’ official Twitter account showcased a new talent from Reaves, in which he interviewed players during practice. Such antics, as well his propensity to create on-ice chaos, have made him an instant fan favorite amongst the Ranger faithful, who showed their appreciation by chanting “Reavo” as the final minutes ticked away.

Reaves was pleased that Wednesday’s game could showcase not only what he’s capable of, but what the Rangers can do as a whole. The win over the Maple Leafs (24-10-3) allowed the Blueshirts to reclaim first place in the Metropolitan Division from the Carolina Hurricanes. Though Carolina has four games in hand, the teams will square off for the first time this season on Friday night in Raleigh (7 p.m. ET, MSG).

“(Wednesday’s game) shows that we can we can hang with the big boys…that we are one of the big boys. We’ve got to keep beating the playoff teams. That’s something we’ve talked about, but I think we’re proving to the league that we’re a contender,” Reaves said, per ESPN. “I think we know it. I think maybe some of the league doesn’t believe it, but let them keep (not) believing it. We’re gonna keep doing our thing and, I mean, the standings don’t lie.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets QB Zach Wilson quiet yet effective in NFL preseason debut

new york jets, zach wilson

Wilson guided the New York Jets to the only points of the MetLife Stadium civil war’s first half before giving way to Mike White.

Zach Wilson introduced himself to the NFL preseason scene in a quiet yet effective way on Saturday night, completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards in his unofficial professional debut. His first drive yielded the only points of the first half of the Jets’ preseason opener against the New York Giants, a 30-yard Chris Naggar field goal that gave Gang Green a 3-0 halftime lead.

Wilson was one of several touted quarterbacks from the 2021 draft’s first-round who starred on Saturday. While he probably didn’t match the hype generated from Justin Fields’ showcase in Chicago, his effective showing likely allowed the Jets to breathe a sigh of relief after a tough showing at the Jets’ Green & White Scrimmage in East Rutherford last weekend.

Situated at his own 36 at the start of his first drive, Wilson earned a pair of nine-yard connections with Corey Davis, moving the Jets into opposing territory. Assisted by 34 yards from Ty Johnson and Michael Carter, Wilson moved the Jets to the Giants’ 12-yard-line. An attempted third hook-up with Davis fell incomplete, leading to Naggar’s opening triple.

Wilson was forced to begin his next drive nine yards from his own end zone after a strong Riley Dixon punt. After Johnson got him out of the shadow of his own goalposts with a 10-yard carry, Wilson earned 16 yards on a nine-yard third down, firing a pass to Keelan Cole to keep the drive going.

Wilson appeared to have another third down conversion through an eight-yard to Jamison Crowder on third-and-four at the cusp of midfield, but a Cole penalty for offensive pass interference cost them the down. Undeterred, Wilson found Tyler Kroft for a 13-yard tally to set up a short, manageable fourth down. A run up the middle to Johnson on fourth-and-one failed to keep things alive, ending Wilson’s day at two possessions, as head coach Robert Saleh promised.

While Wilson was a bit stagnant in the pocket, his solid showing should allow to Jets to sleep a little easier after he completed 11-of-24 passes and was victimized by two interceptions in the intrasquad scrimmage last Saturday. Wilson’s numbers were almost equal to the one thrower chosen above him. Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars likewise completed 6-of-9 passes, outgaining Wilson with 71 yards, though he was sacked twice in a two-possession showing against Cleveland.

Wilson will return to preseason action next Saturday night, when the Jets travel to Green Bay to battle the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field (4:25 p.m. ET, WLNY/NFL Network). After his two possessions, Wilson gave way to second quarterback Mike White, who completed 13-of-19 passes for 127 yards.

The Jets currently lead the Giants 10-0 in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets revel in front of fans for the first time since 2019

New York Jets fans saw their team in person for the first time in nearly 20 months when 1 Jets Drive opened to the public over the weekend.

Granted access to their team for the first time since December 2019, New York Jets fans took full advantage, packing Florham Park for the first public training camp session over the weekend.

With both training camp and MetLife Stadium closed to the public during the health crisis last year, it had been nearly 20 months since the Jets held activities in front of a flesh-and-blood crowd, dating back to the 2019 season’s penultimate contest against Pittsburgh. Things looked a little different: ongoing precautions pushed back certain training camp traditions like photos and autographs another year. On the field, only 15 players that partook in that win over the Steelers remain on the Jets’ roster.

But that was of little concern to the fans, who giddily made their prescience felt with the Jets’ future on display. The loudest cheer of the day was likely reserved for a long scoring hook-up between rookies Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore.

Jets fans had made it clear that they were excited to see their team again…after all, free tickets to the public sessions in Florham Park disappeared in less than 24 hours…but physically seeing their supporters officially made the return of relative gridiron normalcy a reality.

Alijah Vera-Tucker kicked things off by leading the first spelling of Jets in a video shared by team owner Woody Johnson. One young fan proudly displayed his makeshift Wilson jersey, as strips of duct tape buried the Sam Darnold marks originally printed. According to NFL Network’s Judy Battista, the excitement was so palpable that one overzealous fan was ready to book tickets to Southern California for February’s Super Bowl.

The summer debut of Carl Lawson was one of the most anticipated events of camp, evidenced by a group of fans clad in shirts depicting Lawson adorning a Jets beanie shortly after his March signing. Lawson has lived up to the early hype and thanked fans for their support by declaring “Man I love being a jet” [sic] on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s festivities.

The Auburn and Cincinnati Bengals alum previously spoke to the team’s official site about the impact he’s hoping Jets fans will have on the revamped pass rush this season.

“Please come to a game, especially our home games, because it will help me a lot. It will help the D-line a lot,” Lawson implored in an interview with team reporter Eric Allen. “You are actually helping by being at the game…You don’t (have) to like me. You don’t have to do anything extra. Please, just come to the games and scream as loud as you can when the offense is on the field so they can hear nothing, and that would help me a lot.”

If the weekend was any indication, Jets fans are not only going to be big fans of Lawson, but will be more than happy to acquiesce to his request.

Head coach Robert Saleh likewise earned high approval ratings from fans. Florham Park engaged in hysterics when Saleh turned his famous “All gas, no brake” mantra into a chant for the fans, promising them “a lot of fun” once they get back to East Rutherford. The Jets open their preseason slate against the New York Giants on August 14 and their 2021 home debut comes on September 19 against the New England Patriots.

“It’s fun just to have human interaction again and fans, listening to them scream and boo and whatever else they were doing over there. It was awesome,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “I appreciate them coming out. It’s not easy in this climate right now to be able to step out and break out of your comfort zone. For them to come out here and enjoy a practice, hopefully it was worth it for them.”

Fans will be welcomed back to Monday and Wednesday’s practice sessions at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on 1 Jets Drive this week, with additional availability on August 9, 11, 24, and 25. Tickets to Florham Park are sold out but a limited number of entries are available to the Green & White practice at MetLife Stadium this Saturday. They can be obtained on the Jets’ official site.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags


New York Jets: La’Mical Perine backs Sam Darnold as QB

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Perine, poised to be the New York Jets’ top rushing option, expressed his support for the incumbent quarterback on NFL Network.

New York Jets running back La’Mical Perine appears to have a future in the organization. He hopes the guy who handed him his first NFL carries has one as well.

With calls for Sam Darnold’s departure reaching a bit of a fever pitch with both Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson potentially seeking new homes, Perine put his support behind the incumbent starter when it comes to the team’s future during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.

“No disrespect to any of the quarterbacks within the draft, but I actually had a chance to play with Sam and was able to be in a backfield with him. I know what he brings to a team,” Perine said in a response to co-host Nate Burleson. “He’s a great leader…We’ve just got to put good weapons around him, and he can very well succeed and be one of the top quarterbacks in this league.”

“He’s a great vocal leader, a great guy to be around, competitive and I’m ready to look forward to him,” Perine said. “I hope he’s on our team this year…being my starting quarterback.”

Perine joined the team as a fourth-round pick out of Florida last season, shortly after earning MVP honors in the Gators’ Orange Bowl victory over Virginia. Injuries and a late bout with COVID-19 limited Perine to 10 games, during which he tallied 232 yards on 64 carries, two of which went for a touchdown. With Le’Veon Bell already gone and Frank Gore and Ty Johnson up for free agency, Perine is set to be the Jets’ top returning rusher.

The 120th overall pick of April’s draft praised his chemistry and training with Gore, saying he hopes the fellow Florida collegiate legend dons a reflective green chrome helmet as well.

“Coming into the NFL, you just try to find that routine. A guy who’s played 16 years, he has his routine,” Perine responded to Kim Jones. “I just tried to learn everything I can, whether it’s watching film, watching his routine, seeing how he’s such a great player. Honestly, I can tell why he’s played 16 years in this league, just by the way he takes care of his body, how he moves in day in and day out. I’m hoping he can be on the Jets as well.”

Set to enter his second season, Perine is likewise excited to welcome in head coach Robert Saleh and his new gang of assistants. He addressed the new regime in an opening question from Peter Schrager, recalling their Week 2 showdown with Saleh’s 49ers back in September.

“They had a ton of energy,” Perine recalled. “I feel like he can bring that energy toward the Jets. We need that, that great positive energy to have, to be a successful team this here.”

See the full interview here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

WATCH: CB Taron Johnson makes history, shifts momentum to Buffalo

Johnson made NFL history with a 101-yard defensive score, giving the Buffalo Bills a two-score lead in the Divisional tilt vs. Baltimore.

The AFC Divisional playoff tilt between the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens failed to live up to its high-profile offensive billing through nearly three quarters. But the Bills defense was happy to make up for it.

Shortly after the Bills took a 10-3 lead through an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended on a three-yard connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Baltimore looked poised to knot things up with a long drive of their own. But on the 15th play, Bills cornerback Taron Johnson kept the momentum in the Western New York corner with NFL history. Johnson’s interception, taking a pass intended for tight end Mark Andrews wound up going coast-to-coast, a 101-yard return to glory for a pick-six that shook Orchard Park to its core. Johnson’s triple-digit runback ties the longest interception return in NFL history, uniting with George Teague of Green Bay, who accomplished the feat during the 1994 NFC Wild Card round against Detroit.

Should Buffalo hang on for the win, this would arguably be the second consecutive week where a big play from Johnson permanently put momentum on the Bills’ side. Last weekend in Indianapolis, Johnson stopped Jonathan Taylor from scoring on third-and-goal, one yard away from the Buffalo end zone. Had Taylor scored, the Colts would’ve had 17-6 lead late in the first half. The big stop led to a turnover-on-downs on the next play, with Buffalo taking the game by a 27-24 final. Johnson is in the midst of his third season with the Bills, chosen in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.

Buffalo continues to hold a 17-3 lead on the Ravens in the fourth quarter. The winner of Saturday’s game will battle the winner of Sunday’s tilt between Kansas City and Cleveland (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS) in the AFC title game.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags


VIDEO: Josh Allen, Dawson Knox end Buffalo Bills’ playoff TD drought

For the first time since December 1996, someone from the Buffalo Bills visited Orchard Park’s end zones during a playoff game.

It wasn’t pretty by conventional means. But when you’ve gone just over 24 years without experiencing the glory of a playoff touchdown, you’ll take them however you can get.

Josh Allen and Dawson Knox collaborated to end yet another dubious streak of futility in Buffalo Bills history, as the quarterback found his third-year tight end for a three-yard score that gave the Bills a 7-3 lead over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card matchup at Bills Stadium. It was the first playoff touchdown scored in Orchard Park since Jacksonville’s Jimmy Smith scored on a two-yard pass from Mark Brunell during the Wild Card round in December 1996. As for Bills representation, it’s the first postseason score at home by the home team since Jeff Burris took back a Brunell interception 38 yards and the first offensive tally since Thurman Thomas scored in the same game, a 30-27 Jacksonville victory.

After the Bills went three-and-out on their first drive by keeping Allen in the pocket, the MVP candidate was able to break free on his second attempt with the ball. Situated at his own 15 after the Colts took a 3-0 lead, Allen accounted for all but six yards on the ensuing 85-yard trek to the end zone. He got things started with his legs on a 12-yard tally on the second play before getting into Indianapolis territory with a 36-yard strike to Stefon Diggs. The score itself wasn’t pretty…Allen appeared to attempt to run it in himself before he got it off at the last minute with the pocket collapsing…but Knox was wide for a catch worth six points not matter its attractiveness. Tyler Bass would later boot the extra point to make to create a 7-3 Buffalo lead.

Allen also earned first downs through passes to Devin Singletary and Gabriel Davis. Each of Allen’s first six completion went to a different receiver, with Zack Moss and Cole Beasley also earning catches in the opening frame.

Buffalo continues to lead Indianapolis 7-3 in the early stages of the second quarter.

Geof Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

VIDEO: Buffalo Bills battle in the snow after Winter Storm Gail

A snowy civil war erupted in Buffalo Bills circles on Thursday, as defenders engaged in a snowball fight, captured by Terry Pegula.

Rumors of in-fighting amongst the Buffalo Bills are all too true, proven by none other than one of the team’s owners on their official social media channels.

There’s no cause for concern in Orchard Park, however, as their civil war is one of the snowy variety.

Much to the presumed chagrin of their upcoming opponents, Winter Storm Gail did little to stop business as usual at ADPRO Sports Training House. As the Bills prepare for a Saturday tilt against the Denver Broncos (4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network), their defenders ended their Thursday proceedings with a snowball fight. Video of the ensuing battle was posted on the official Bills accounts, with filming credited to co-owner Terry Pegula.

Cornerback Tre’Davious White is perhaps the strongest force in the video, guarding the top of a large snow pile near the entrance to the fieldhouse. White apparently came prepared, tossing several premade snowballs at his jovial teammates. An assault from some offensive players, led by practice squad running back Christian Wade, forces White to abandon his mount. Several other defenders attempt to claim the pill of themselves through swooping snow all over their teammates, with Ed Oliver and Josh Norman holding out the longest. The entire exchange is bravely captured by Pegula, who co-owns the team with his wife Kim.

The Buffalo area is, of course, no stranger to snow and freezing temperatures. It has played host to several snowy showdowns at Bills Stadium, such as the memorable get-together against Indianapolis in December 2017. The Binghamton area received 40 inches of snow from Gail on Wednesday afternoon into evening, with two additional inches falling on Thursday. It made for some picturesque settings at Bills Stadium, which will next host Buffalo’s regular-season finale on January 3 against Miami.

In either case, the Bills (10-3) should be well-prepared for what should be a chilly visit to the Rocky Mountains. The sun will set shortly after kickoff on Saturday, with temperatures expected to drop into the high 20s. Precipitation is not expected, thoughts are expected to reach 11 miles per hour.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen chides NFC East as division race looms

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen earned another win against the NFC East, taking a not-so-subtle jab at the division’s dismal 2020 output.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen knows a thing or two about beating the NFC, having gone 3-1 against the division’s quartet last season. He earned another win against the tragic foursome during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show this weekend.

Speaking with the former NFL punter, Allen was asked about the Bills’ ongoing question to clinch their first AFC East title since 1995. Buffalo sits at 8-3 heading into their Monday night showdown against San Francisco in Glendale, Arizona (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC), one game ahead of the Miami Dolphins (7-4).

McAfee discussed the current state of the division, noting that the New England Patriots (5-6), winners of all but three division titles in the new century couldn’t be counted out despite their dismal record and that the dismal New York Jets (0-11) were simply “whatever”. He asked Allen if there was a sense of “why not us” in Buffalo’s journey. That’s when Allen revealed his roast.

“Exactly, why not us?” Allen rhetorically asked. “But again, we’re sitting at 8-3. And eight wins doesn’t win you the division unless you’re…” he paused before somewhat sheepishly adding “in the NFC East” with a smile.

The comment sent McAfee and his off-screen co-hosts into hysterics, one of whom cheers in support. McAfee tells Allen “that was awesome” before Allen gets the interview back to serious matters.

“In all seriousness, coach (Sean) McDermott preaches playoff caliber. Our goal is to get into the playoffs. Once you get into the playoffs, anybody’s got a chance to win it. The easiest way to get into the playoffs is to win your division. So that’s been our goal and mindset ever since we’ve stepped foot back here in August or whatever month that we got back here.”

Allen also further praises McDermott, saying that he has “been doing a great job with us”. The full interview can be found here.

If anyone knows of the former glory of the NFC East, it’s the Bills, whose four consecutive Super Bowl defeats came at the hands of three teams from the division (the New York Giants, Washington Football Team, and the Dallas Cowboys, the latter beating them twice). But the modern NFC East has become a cesspool for disappointing, sloppy football, as every team in the division is at least three games under .500 as December football opens. The Giants are the current leaders with a 4-7 record, owners of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Washington. Behind them, the Philadelphia Eagles sit a 3-7-1, while the Cowboys are 3-8. The winner of the division will likely have the lowest win percentage of any NFL playoff team in the modern era, topping the 2010-11 Seattle Seahawks, who won the NFC West with a 7-9 record.

Despite the division’s ineptitude, its teams routinely appear in high-profile television slots. For example, Dallas will make up a date on Fox and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football package on Tuesday against the Baltimore Ravens (8:05 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Buffalo Bills, Cole Beasley talk about Sunday trickery

Beasley’s touchdown toss against Los Angeles is the Buffalo Bills’ second scoring pass from a non-QB this season.

Kelly, Kemp, Ferguson, Flutie, Bledsoe…Beasley??? 

It’s not likely that Cole Beasley will go down amongst the great passers in Buffalo Bills history, even if his official passer rating sticks at 158.3. Beasley joined fellow non-quarterbacks John Brown and Preston Ridlehuber as the only players in Bills history to earn a perfect mark in the category on Sunday. Buffalo trickery led to the receiver tossing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis during a tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers at Bills Stadium en route to a 27-17 victory. It was similar antics that allowed the rusher Ridlehuber and the receiver Brown to likewise earn passing scores in 1969 and 2019 respectively (Beasley’s current teammate Brown also had a scoring throw in last year’s playoff cameo in Houston). 

The Bills (8-3) were able to pass the play off as a bubble screen, with Beasley taking a pass behind the line of scrimmage from regular quarterback Josh Allen. Davis faked a block before heading downfield, drawing the Chargers’ attention to Beasley. With the ruse in full swing, Beasley lobbed the ball to a wide open Davis, helping the rookie catcher earn his fourth touchdown pass of the season and to give Buffalo a 14-6 lead in the second quarter.

According to Davis, the gridiron sorcery was several weeks in the making, giving him full confidence that the deception would work. 

“I knew it was going to work,” Davis said, per Jourdan LaBarbour of BuffaloBills.com. “We run a lot of those bubble screens, so as soon as I saw (Chargers cornerback Chris Harris) shoot, I just knew the ball was coming to me and Cole was able to, you know, put a dart. He said he threw it kind of hard to get it in there but…it was a softball. It was an easy catch and I’m glad we could make that connection.”

Mandatory Credit: Jamie Germano-USA TODAY NETWORK

Beasley became the second Bills receiver to flip the narrative of a touchdown pass this season, joining Isaiah McKenzie. The latter threw a four-yard pass to Allen in the infamous loss to Arizona earlier this month. Alas for McKenzie, the passer rating formula left him just short of a perfect mark at 156.2. Since 2018, Buffalo is tied with division rival Miami for the most touchdown passes thrown by a non-quarterback (4, including postseason). 

“My feet weren’t set right, it was really ugly, but it got there. I’ll take it,” Beasley analyzed in LaBarbour’s report. “I was trying to get them to come up and think it was a bubble screen. I just had to have eyes on the safety, make sure he’s not coming over back there. The guys were guarding the guys going deep, so I had a chance to throw it.”

If anyone on the Bills was ready for aerial duplicity, it was likely going to be Beasley. The 31-year-old previously served as an option quarterback at Little Elm (TX) High School, earning 5,071 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air and on the ground combined over two varsity seasons. He did not attempt any passes during his college years at Southern Methodist but got two chances during his seven-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys, both falling incomplete. 

In addition to his self-deprecation, Beasley was happy to chalk the highlight up to a team effort, complimenting both his blockers and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

“(The blockers) sell it more than I do,” Beasley said, per Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News. “They sell it with the blocks. They give like a three count and then they go. I was trying to get them to come up and thinking it was a bubble screen. I just had to have eyes on the safety, make sure he’s not coming over back there.”

“(Daboll) has done a good job of mixing it up,” he continued in another report from David De Cristofaro of Bills Wire. “He does a good job of keeping them off-balanced and that was one of those times right there.”

Before anyone tells Beasley to stick to his day job, they should be advised that he’s been posting strong numbers on the receiving ledgers as well. He’s currently on pace to set career-highs in nearly every major statistical category, standing at 667 yards on 57 receptions, three of which have gone for touchdowns. 

Allen has praised Beasley for stepping up in recent weeks, particularly with Brown forced out due to an ankle sprain. 

“Cole is very instinctive. He’s a very smart player,” Allen said prior to the Chargers’ visit, per AJ Feldman of RochesterFirst.com. “He knows what windows to kind of throttle down into and get out of and it’s just something we’ve talked about an extreme amount. We’ve watched a lot of film together.”

“I trust him implicitly whenever he breaks in or breaks out. I trust that he did his due diligence of peaking where the defense was. The majority of the time he’s 100 percent correct.”

Beasley and the Bills return to action on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers in a game moved to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags


Buffalo Bills: The best moments in the throwback uniforms

The Buffalo Bills’ beloved throwback uniforms returned on Sunday against Los Angeles. ESM looks back on their finest hours.

With championship dreams approaching this winter, the Buffalo Bills and their fans are ready to party like it’s 1965…the last year the team won an official league championship.

It turns out, the Bills are happy to dress for the occasion as well.

For their Week 12 home tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Bills opted to break out their classic throwback uniforms, an aesthetic more or less defined by the simplified buffalo logo on their helmets. This blast from the past is meant to replicate the team’s look worn from 1962 through 1973, when the “streaking” buffalo was introduced. The Bills’ modern full-time uniforms strongly resemble their throwbacks, but Buffalo completed the look on Sunday with the adjusted helmets.

The gambit paid off. Josh Allen scored through both the air and ground, while Cole Beasley trickery led to a touchdown toss to Gabriel Davis. Buffalo (8-3) took the game by a 27-17 final, allowing them to keep a one-game lead over Miami for the AFC East division lead.

In honor of the Bills’ trip down memory lane, ESM looks to do the same, looking back on when relics from the past previously led to good times in the present…

9/11/05: Carr Wreck

The Bills broke out the throwbacks for the first during the 2005 season opener against the Houston Texans. In a performance that would make Tom Sestak, Mike Stratton, Booker Edgerson, and Georga Saimes proud, the Buffalo defense dominated the day, allowing only 120 yards and earning five sacks and turnovers each. Troy Vincent intercepted Texas quarterback David Carr twice, while Aaron Schobel had two sacks. Chris Kelsay and Takeo Spikes each forced a fumble in the effort as well. On the scoreboard, Rian Lindell booted five field goals to slowly break the Texans’ will, while the lone Buffalo touchdown of the afternoon came on J.P. Losman’s one-yard pass to a then-second-year blocker Jason Peters. The Bills earned a 22-7 victory to kick off the second year of the Mike Mularkey era.

Buffalo wore the throwbacks on the road a week later in Tampa Bay, but the good vibes didn’t come with them in a 19-3 defeat en route to a 5-11 seaso and Mularkey’s eventual resignation.

12/9/07: Royal Entrance

In the midst of a playoff push, the Bills put away notions of a trap game against the 0-12 Miami Dolphins away in the early going. A pair of Robert Royal touchdown receptions from Trent Edwards kickstarted a 24-point first quarter for the Bills, who also enjoyed a separate pair of scoring grabs from Lee Evans. The rookie Edwards completed only 11 passes on the afternoon, but his four touchdown passes were a career-high. Elsewhere, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch each reached triple digits in rushing yards (uniting for 222 on the ground) while Donte Whitner and Terrence McGee each earned interceptions in the 38-17 win.

Alas for the Bills, that would be their final win of the 2007 season, losing their final three games to drop out of the postseason race.

9/21/08: Edge of 17

The Bills got off to a 4-0 start in 2008, an opening kept alive through a gutsy effort in the throwback against the artists formerly known as the Oakland Raiders. Buffalo’s defense was mostly taking care of business, limiting Oakland to 10 first downs, but turnovers and short drives forced the Bills to face a 23-14 deficit past the halfway mark of the final frame. Through big-gain collaborations with Evans and Josh Reed, Edwards narrowed the gap with a 14-yard scoring pass to Roscoe Parrish, capping off a drive that took just over two minutes. The defense then forced a three-and-out, leading to two more big gains from Parrish and Evans. Lynch would tick off the final yards, situating Lindell from 38 yards out to boot the game winning field goal in a 24-23 triumph.

11/29/09: Defeat Occurs in Real Time

Buffalo introduced the contemporary white version of their throwback during their 50th anniversary season in 2009, coinciding with the American Football League’s 50th anniversary. Matchups with former AFL brethren were marked with special throwback schemes, though the Bills lost these matchups to New England and Tennessee. They broke out the blue version for a visit from the Dolphins, reeling after the firing of head coach Dick Jauron. Happy times briefly returned to The Ralph, however, as the Bills once again used a 24-point quarter to their advantage. Miami led 14-7 entering the final 15 minutes, but Jackson opened the closer with a three-run scoring run to tie it. Most of the tally came over the final 3:35 of game time. Lindell’s 56-yard boot, a career-long, gave Buffalo the lead for good before Drayton Florence’s interception got them the ball back. Terrell Owens cashed in on the very next play with a 51-yard scoring grab from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Another turnover, this one being a Whitner interception, allowed Jackson to add some final insurance, a seven-yard run by Jackson that gave interim head coach Perry Fewell the first of three victories.

9/15/13: He’s the Manuel

Bills fans may well be somewhat spoiled with Josh Allen in town, as some may have already forgotten the failed franchise quarterbacks that preceded his arrivals. Florida State’s EJ Manuel was one of those final attempts. For a brief moment, clad in the white throwback, it truly felt like Manuel was going to be the man to lead the franchise into the future.

Engaged in a back-and-forth thriller with the Carolina Panthers, the Bills trailed 23-17 with 98 seconds remaining. Manuel’s arm accounted for every single yard of the ensuing 80-yard drive that led to victory, capping things off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Steve Johnson…ironcially caught with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter…that sent Western New York into hysterics over a 24-23 victory. Alas for Manuel, longevity was not to be. He suffered an LCL injury less than three weeks later during a Thursday night game and was never the same upon his return.

9/14/14: Carpe 3’em

The Bills got off to a strong start in 2014, topping the Bears in overtime before opening their Orchard Park slate with a visit from the Dolphins. It turned out to literally be a special victory, as Dan Carpenter booted five field goals and C.J. Spiller brought a kick back 102 yards. On defense, Leodis McKelvin also had an interception, while Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Stefan Charles, and Mario Williams each had a sack in the 29-10 final.

9/13/15: Lucky 27

2015 was the introduction of the Bills’ trippy “Color Rush” uniforms, but the throwbacks kept their early season slot. The aesthetic allowed Buffalo to start the Rex Ryan era off on the right note, scoring the first 24 points in what became a 27-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Tyrod Taylor likewise enjoyed a strong debut in Western New York, tallying 195 yards through the air and 41 on the ground. His first Buffalo touchdown was a 51-yard toss to Percy Harvin on the final play of the first quarter. Karlos Williams and Anthony Dixon scored on the ground, complementing a defensive performance that saw interceptions from Ronald Darby and Aaron Williams.

12/31/17: Miami Nice

The Bills’ first playoff appearance in nearly two decades is unusual in that everyone seems to remember the finishing touch: Andy Dalton’s comeback against Baltimore that fulfilled the postseason caveat. But Dalton’s shining moment wouldn’t have meant anything if the Bills didn’t take care of business during their Week 17 visit to Miami. Each team ended the year in a time machine, with the Dolphins likewise clad in their 1970s-inspired throwbacks.

Buffalo responded in perfect fashion, building a 19-0 lead through a strong game from every side of the ball. Taylor kicked off scoring with a 26-yard touchdown toss to Nick O’Leary before allowing Steven Hauschka to take over with three field goals in the onslaught. In the interim, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams lined up as a fullback and scored on a one-yard push to help put Miami away. Buffalo took the game 22-16 before returning to the locker room to watch Dalton work his magic.

11/25/18: Revenge is Best Served Old

Ten months after the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars played to a 10-3 victory for the latter in the AFC wild card playoffs, each team’s return trip was more or less canceled, the two sides saddled with losing records in late November. But Buffalo did earn a quantum of revenge in the rematch, topping the Jaguars in a 24-21 tilt in their vintage threads. It was one of the earliest displays of power from Josh Allen, as the rookie quarterback scored through both the air (Robert Foster being the lucky recipient from 75 yards out) and ground for the first time in front of a Western New York crowd. Isaiah McKenzie had the lone non-Allen touchdown, while Poyer and Matt Milano had interceptions.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags