Come in off the ledge, Bills fans.
All is right in the world again after your team laid the smack down Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“If Bad Josh (turnovers), Disappointing Josh (missed throws) and Frustrating Josh (not sliding) was present last Monday, the home fans got to see Great Josh (no turnovers), Efficient Josh (31-of-37 passing) and Smart Josh (only one risky run) against the Raiders,” Ryan O’Halloran writes.
A dominating, 38-10 victory in the home opener at Highmark Stadium did more than just even the Bills’ record at 1-1. It also showed that a good deal of concern that was expressed after the season-opening stinker against the New York Jets just might have been overblown.
“You can’t be thinking about all the mistakes we made last week. We can’t let that carry over to this week,” tight end Dawson Knox said. “We always have that 24-hour rule. We were done talking about it on Tuesday. We were ready to move on, wipe that bad taste out of our mouth.”
The Bills did so with a balanced effort on both sides of the ball. The defense came out flat, allowing a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to Las Vegas to start the game. From that point, however, it was nails.
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“It’s definitely a bounce back,” said defensive end Leonard Floyd. “Great momentum for our team heading into next week.”
The offense, meanwhile, started slow, going three-and-out on its first possession after the Vegas touchdown. At that point, boos started to rain down from a home crowd that was feeling anxious after last week’s loss.
Five Bills scored touchdowns as they moved their record to 1-1 with Sunday’s rout of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Needing something to go the right way, second-year middle linebacker Terrel Bernard delivered a momentum-changing interception to end the Raiders’ second drive, and the Bills cashed in the short field with a 4-yard touchdown by running back Latavius Murray. From there, the offense hit its stride, accumulating 450 net yards.
“Everybody chipped in,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “It was a good, disciplined win, which is important.”
Quarterback Josh Allen was excellent after one of the worst games of his career in Week 1. Allen went 31 of 37 for 274 yards and three touchdowns, but what really stood out was the balance on offense. Allen completed passes to nine different receivers. Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis had seven targets each, followed by six for rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid. The offense also piled up 183 yards on the ground.
“I’ll tip my hat to our offensive line and our three running backs,” McDermott said. “When you have a good running game, it’s not just the offensive line and the running backs, it’s more than that. The tight ends, the wide receivers have to block, so it’s usually a team effort, when you have a good day running the football. But it’s important that we have that, right? We can be a two-dimensional offense, pound the ball when we need to pound it. … When you can control the line of scrimmage, it makes play-calling a lot easier.”
All three of the Bills’ running backs were involved, with both Damien Harris and Latavius Murray rushing for touchdowns and James Cook having a career day.
“We’ve got a lot of great skill players,” Harris said. “There is a lot to go around. There is no shortage of talent, so we just want to get as many guys involved as possible, do as many things as possible that way. Obviously, nobody can get a jump on what we’re going to do. This is a high-powered offense, so every week teams are going to have to pick their poison.”
The Bills head to Washington in Week 3 to take on a Commanders team that rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Denver Broncos, 35-33, Sunday and is 2-0 for the first time since 2011.
2. More on Cook’s career day. The second-year running back started the Bills’ final drive with one goal: Get to 100 yards rushing.
Cook had 86 yards on 15 carries with 2:19 remaining. He gained 3 yards on first down and then posted a 36-yard run.
“I was hungry (for 100 yards),” Cook said. “I was just trying to bust (a long one).”
Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was looking for running back Josh Jacobs, and he nearly found him. But so did Milano. Milano leapt into the air practically piggybacking Jacobs, the All-Pro linebacker’s arms closing in like tentacles from the sides. Milano snatched the ball in front of Jacobs’ chest and wrestled it back over the running back’s head while still in the air. He ran it three yards back, just to add insult.
Cook had a career day in:
- Carries: 17 (his previous high was 14 at New England last December).
- Yards: 123 (his previous high was 99 at Chicago last December).
- All-purpose yards: 159 (his previous his was 109 at Chicago).
- Longest carry: 36 yards (his previous high was 33 against Tennessee last September).
“Kudos to my offensive line,” Cook said. “They blocked great and opened lanes for (the backs) and we hit them.”
“The more we can hand it off to Jimbo (Cook) and (other) guys and they’re getting 5-6 yards a pop and staying ahead of the chains and putting us into second-and-short situations – now we can hand it off again, we can take a shot (downfield), we can throw it short to get the first down,” Allen said. “There are just a lot of options when we can run the ball like that.”
3. A couple late defensive injuries appear not to be serious. The Bills announced in the fourth quarter that safety Micah Hyde and defensive end Leonard Floyd were questionable to return to the game. Given the lopsided score, neither did. Hyde suffered a hamstring injury, according to the team, while athletic trainers were looking at Floyd’s ankle.
Jay Skurski grades the Buffalo Bills in their 38-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
“I’m great,” Hyde said in his postgame press conference. “Continue to get some rehab and be back next week.”
Said Floyd: “I’m fine. I’ll be ready next week. Just tweaked it a little bit.”
Cornerback Dane Jackson was shaken up in the first quarter after making a tackle on a kickoff return by the Raiders’ Andre Carter. Jackson was evaluated for a head injury, but able to return to the game.
The Bills did not list any players with a designation on their final injury report. Center Mitch Morse was the only player to appear on the report during the week, but was a full participant despite a finger injury. Morse went into the sideline medical tent and missed a few plays in the third quarter. When he came out, trainers appeared to be looking at his right hand or finger, but he was able to return to the lineup. After the game, Morse said he had a “wardrobe malfunction” on the protective wrap on his finger.
4. Dawson Knox moved up the list. The Bills’ tight end caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter off a nice play-action fake by Allen, who rolled to his left and found a wide-open Knox. It was Knox’s 20th career touchdown catch, which ties Jay Riemersma for second place on the team’s all-time list by tight ends. Pete Metzelaars is the franchise leader with 25 receiving touchdowns by a tight end.
“Definitely want to go for that No. 1 spot. I think that just comes with more games you play, but it’s not going to be something I’m focused on,” Knox said. “Hopefully those opportunities are going to keep coming.”
5. Harris had a career first. The Bills’ running back scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter. Harris finished with 33 yards on seven carries. He also contributed in a new way. His 41-yard kickoff return in the second quarter was the first kickoff return of his career.
“It was my first one since, like, high school I think,” Harris said. “It was a great first experience, you know what I mean? I’m looking forward to doing it some more. Any chance you get to make a play, you want to make it.”