LAS VEGAS — The Bills exorcised their second half demons and took it to the Raiders, 30-23 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. The Bills became the first team to beat the Raiders in their new home, Allegiant Stadium, behind, you guessed it, another big day from quarterback Josh Allen.
It was a fine day overall from the Buffalo offense, which started hot and finished strong on its way to a fourth straight win.
With the win, the Bills are now 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Here are a few takeaways from today’s game:
BILLS’ DEFENSE STEPS UP
At times it wasn’t pretty, but when it mattered most, the Bills’ defense stepped up and sealed a big win over a conference opponent. A punch-out, fumble recovery from cornerback Josh Norman and a sack-fumble from Quinton Jefferson served as the proverbial nails in the coffin, as each helped put the finishing touches on another Buffalo victory.
Norman played exceptionally well in the win, especially considering it was his first game action of the season after missing Weeks 1-3 due to a hamstring injury. Norman performed well in coverage and came up with the much-needed punch-out with 12:39 to go in the fourth. The Bills needed a big effort from Norman, as they lost starting cornerback Levi Wallace to an ankle injury that forced him from the game early on. Wallace didn’t return after exiting, and his status will be something to monitor going into Week 5.
The Bills’ pass rush came to life in the second half and helped close things out, with Darryl Johnson and Jefferson each finishing the game with a sack. Johnson’s came with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter and would have caused a fumble if the officials hadn’t already blown the whistle due to Carr’s forward progress being stopped. Jefferson’s sack was the play of the game and put the game more or less out of reach for the Raiders.
Buffalo came up with big play after big play when needed most this afternoon.
Allen has done a great job of spreading the ball around this season, and that continued against Las Vegas, as the Bills’ QB connected with nine different receivers for just under 300 passing yards. It’s the first time this season Allen has failed to throw for over 300+ yards, but he still managed to throw for a couple of scores and run for another.
Rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis caught his second touchdown in as many games, which was his only catch of the day against the Raiders that came on a 26-yard strike which found him wide open and in stride for the touchdown. Allen’s other score went to WR Cole Beasley, who battled through injury to record another impactful performance. Beasley was coming off his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 3.
After a relatively quiet Week 3, WR Stefon Diggs went off for six catches for 115 yards, the second game this season in which he has recorded 100+ receiving yards.
BILLS’ DEEP PASSING GAME
Before Sunday’s game, Allen had completed a total of 18 passes that had traveled 15+ yards downfield, the most in the NFL, and added to that résumé against the Raiders.
Early in the fourth quarter, Allen connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs for his longest pass of the season, a 49-yard bomb down the middle that Diggs had to fight for, but wound up pulling away from the Raiders’ defensive back. The long pass and catch led to the Bills’ fourth touchdown of the day and put them ahead 30-16 with 11:17 to go in the game.
Allen has now connected with Diggs on nine of 10 throws that have traveled 15+ yards downfield, making this one of the most dangerous QB-WR connections in the NFL
The Bills lacked a deep passing game last season, and the inability to stretch the field severely limited their offense. That doesn’t seem to be an issue this season.
It may be time for Buffalo to reconsider the kicking game.
After a career-long 72-yard punt in Week 3 that pinned the Rams inside their own five-yard line, Buffalo punter Corey Bojorquez reverted back to the bad ‘Bojo’ when he booted a punt into the end zone for a touchback with 5:13 to go in the third quarter. It may be an overreaction to look at one punt and think Buffalo should make a change. But this team is too good to be held back by its punter and can’t afford bad kicks like the one Bojorquez struck today.
More concerning are the struggles of rookie kicker Tyler Bass, who missed another extra point this week. If he continues to be inconsistent as he has through four weeks, the Bills may not have a long leash on their ‘20 sixth-round draft pick.
The last time the Bills were undefeated four weeks into the season, Trent Edwards was the quarterback. Edwards finished that season with only 11 touchdown passes, and thus far this season Allen already has 12. It appears that things will end up a bit better for Buffalo this time around (h/t @ByJerrySullivan).
That said, now is not the time for the Bills to look back and compare their torrid start to floundered finishes of years past. Now is the time to look forward and keep the foot on the gas pedal. The sky is the limit for this year’s Bills, and it’s going to be fun to see how far they can take this winning streak.
Having beaten two quality teams in back to back weeks, who knows when this magical ride will end - or where?