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THE ROCKPILE REVIEW - Bills Take Care of Falcons

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Image Credit: © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


Fans have a mental-image of what an NFL win looks like. A prototype win. It’s what they want to see from their team, week after week.  Take control of the game from the start, score on almost every possession, have a comfortable half-time lead, and cruise through the second half to a stress-free win.


Problem is, every NFL game is unique.  It’s different from every other game, and very, very few wins fit the prototype.  In every game, as Sean McDermott is fond of saying, each team will face adversity.  How the team responds to adversity is the measure of how good a team is.


Yes, it’s a cliché.  The reason it’s a cliché is because it’s true.  Things go wrong in games.  They always do. 


The cliché was on display Sunday as the Bills beat the Falcons 29-15, clinching a playoff berth and now needing a win over the Jets in Orchard Park to win a second-straight AFC East title.  Things went wrong in the middle of the game for Josh Allen and the Bills, but the Bills responded.  The defense held, the running game clicked into gear, the Bills regained the lead.  The Falcons threatened to make it close, and then something went wrong for them.  They couldn’t recover.


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© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


For a game with plenty of uncomfortable moments for the Bills, it all ended oh, so comfortably:  Run the clock down to the two-minute warning and take three knees. 


The story of the game begins as it almost always does for the Bills, with Josh Allen.   Commentators for the past few weeks have been saying that no team relies on one player more than the Buffalo Bills, and it’s hard to deny it.  Allen can wreck a game with his arm and with his legs, and no quarterback in the league is as good as an over-all offensive player.  A few QBs run better, and a few QBs pass better, but no other QB is like Allen, a high-level threat both ways. 


Against the Falcons, Allen had some typically amazing throws, some near misses, and some drops, but he certainly did not have a good passing game.  Allen threw fastballs most of the day, probably because of the wind and snow, and the fastballs weren’t connecting. 


With the Bills driving for their third TD of the first half, a score that would go a long way to ending the game, Allen saw Diggs in the endzone, fired another bullet that was tipped and intercepted.  The Falcons then scored so quickly that the Bills still had time to attack again.  Allen immediately threw another interception, and the Falcons drove for a field goal to take the lead at halftime, 15-14.  On the third play of the third quarter, Allen threw his third pick.  Did someone say adversity?


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© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


The Bills responded.  The defense forced a three-and-out and also pushed the Falcons out of field-goal range.  The offense drove 80 yards in six-and-a-half minutes, an 11-play drive featuring 10 runs by Singletary and Allen.  The offensive line took charge.  The touchdown and two-point conversion put the Bills up 7.  The Falcons punted after five plays, and here came the Bills offense, again.  Twelve plays, seven and a half minutes, 65 yards for the touchdown to make it 29-15.  Another 10 running plays, shared by Allen, Singletary, and Moss.  29-15, and the game was in hand.


But the Falcons marched back, insisting the game was not over.  Matt Ryan scrambled for a touchdown and picked up a taunting penalty that became incredibly damaging when it was ruled Ryan had given himself up short of the goal line. That took six points off the board and left the Falcons with third and goal from the 16.  The Bills held for two plays to take the ball back.


And now, as if to show that Ryan’s drama was irrelevant, the offense took over again. They went on an 11-play, 5+ minute drive, that included all runs and three kneel downs.   If the Bills had needed a TD, Allen would have gotten it. 



© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


The Falcons were not going to beat this team at this point in the season.  These Bills are doing a lot of things right, not always flashy, but right.  These Bills are mentally tough.  It’s evident everywhere:  Singletary’s emergence as a real threat; the offensive line’s sudden development as a pass protection unit, the line’s equally sudden ability to create the running room for Singletary, Allen, and Moss throughout the second half; a strip sack from Rousseau; a shoe-string tackle by Epenesa.  Guys at every position were making plays.

Sure, on pure style-points, this game was far from awesome:  Stevenson’s fumble. Allen’s INTs, of course, the defense’s failure to get a stop on the Ryan non-TD


But, style points no longer matter.  Scratching and clawing and competing in every way you possibly can is what matters.  The style isn’t always pretty, but this style is showing that it can be pretty tough to beat. 


And Josh Allen is the Chief-Executive-Scratcher-and-Clawer.  The team feeds off his determination.  We see his physical toughness in his runs, of course, and we also see his mental toughness in his presence in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.  He isn’t confused; he understands what he sees.  We aches to win.  He’s mentally tough.


The Bills have played with that toughness, led by Allen’s toughness, for two games now, and I would be surprised if they lose that attitude against the Jets next week. 






Billsfans.com - Shaw66



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