© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK
Ha ha ha ha!!!
Ha ha ha!!!
Ha ha ha ha ha!!!
The Bills beat the Houston Texans on Sunday. In a word, it was a laugher. Final score: 40-0, but as they say, it wasn’t that close.
When the Patriots recovered after a disastrous first half to beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl, someone asked Bill Belichick after the game if the coaches were worried at halftime. He answered that they didn’t feel too badly, because they were competitive on the field, they just weren’t competitive on the scoreboard. Well, Houston wasn’t ever competitive, on the scoreboard or in the game. In fact, the game was over shortly after the opening kickoff; we just didn’t know it yet. Houston couldn’t stop the Bills, and Houston couldn’t move the ball against the Bills.
Okay. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard this before. Same old story, I know, but what a great story!
The Denver Broncos had a receiver in the 60s named Lionel Taylor. Taylor was the first receiver in the history of professional football to have 100 receptions in a season – a 12-game season. He was unstoppable for a few years. There was a story about Taylor that was told in those days that supposedly was true. The Broncos were playing the Houston Oilers (now the Titans), and the Oilers’ defensive backfield was weak. In those days, everyone was trying to play bump and run, all the defenses ran standard 4-3, all the offenses pretty much split played two-wide, one receiver to each side, always to the same side. So, every play, a receiver was lined up wide against the same corner back, and they were face-to-face across the line of scrimmage all day. The story was that for the entire game, before the snap Taylor told the corner back what route he would run, essentially challenging the corner to stop him. He went for over 100 yards that day.
Well, Sunday, against another Houston team, Josh Allen seemed to pay homage to Taylor, who’s still alive. The Texans received the opening kickoff and, after a first-down holding penalty, went three and out. They punted, and the Bills took over on their own 34. Almost as though he was saying, “Here, I’ll give you a chance,” on first down Allen threw the ball directly to Lonnie Johnson, Jr., who made a brilliant change of direction and returned the interception 32 yards to the Bills’ 13 yard line. The Bills defense took over, and on 4th and 3 from the Buffalo 6, Houston wasted their first, and last, scoring opportunity of the day by going for it. Attacking from the left defensive end, Jerry Hughes deflected Davis Mills’s pass, and Houston was done.
On the ensuing third down, Allen air mailed his next pass over the head of Stefon Diggs and out of bounds, forcing a Bills punt. It was as though Allen was saying to Houston, “Here, I’ll give you another chance.” After the punt, Houston got one first down, and then on third down Mills threw an interception to Tremaine Edmunds. Houston didn’t get another first down until the third quarter.
Now, Allen took over, and the Bills put up a touchdown and three field goals before the half ended. A third-quarter field goal and three fourth-quarter touchdowns accounted for the rest of the Bills’ scoring. It was a total blowout. The Texans had no answers for the Bills defense. Jaquan Johnson, Tyler Matakevich, and Micah Hyde had interceptions, and A.J. Klein picked up a fumble. If Matakevich had gotten his pick one play earlier, the Texans would have finished the game with fewer than 100 yards of total offense.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone had fun. Edmunds had his pick and a couple of really nice tackles, Ed Oliver exploded through the line to make some nice stops. Boogie Basham got his first NFL sack. Cam Lewis, called up from the practice squad to play for Taron Johnson, flashed on a few plays. Johnson handled his duties, subbing for Jordan Poyer, without mishap.
The offense struggled in the red zone, but otherwise there were plenty of fireworks. Dawson Knox continued to emerge as a more consistent target, catching everything that came his way, including two TDs. Diggs went over 100 yards, courtesy of a long Josh Allen laser that dropped in Diggs’s hands as he streaked down the right sideline. Emanuel Sanders caught his share of balls.
The surprise move, or perhaps not so surprising, was that Daryl Williams moved from right tackle to right guard, as Cody Ford went to the bench. Rookie Spencer Brown took over the right tackle duties. Ike Boettger filled in for the injured Jon Feliciano, so it was something of a remade offensive line. The changes seemed to help. Devin Singletary and Zach Moss shared the rushing duties, and each had some nice runs, courtesy of perhaps the best run blocking the offensive line has displayed in 2021. Allen suffered only one sack and generally worked in the pocket without substantial pressure.
In a pass-happy NFL, Josh Allen was ordinary against the Texans. He had the 16th best passer rating among quarterbacks in week 4. He threw for a paltry 248 yards, also 16th, and two TDs. He threw an ugly interception. And yet, Allen was spectacular in ways that only Allen can be. The deep ball to Diggs way eye-popping – not a Russell-Wilson-rainbow, but a rocket that fell in perfectly for the completion. Allen’s pump fake on the first touchdown to Knox was one of the best you will ever see. As Knox was crossing the field, the fake not only froze the safety covering Knox, it caused him to step toward the fake – Knox suddenly was wide open as Allen delivered the ball. And Allen’s scramble, roll out, and long throw to Diggs to set up the Bills’ first field goal was spectacular. Two Texans suddenly appeared in Allen’s face and instead of running away from them to the left, he spun almost instantly and sprinted out to the right to buy time while Diggs broke to the sideline.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Allen is the new Elway. His right arm is a rocket launcher. Gabriel Davis couldn’t handle one fireball in the endzone, Zach Moss wasn’t ready on the goal line for a ball that arrived hot, and a Texans’ defender pounded the ground after missing an interception on a ball that exploded past him before he had a chance to make the play. Allen’s not showing the touch that he did last season, and his receivers know they need to be ready.
It rained off and on all day, sometimes hard. The rain may have contributed to Allen’s interception and at least a couple of the Texans’ turnovers, but the rain had pretty much nothing to do with the outcome. The fans came prepared and packed the stadium. At halftime, the upper deck began to thin out, and over the course of the second half, more people began to leave.
At the two minute warning, maybe 20,000 people remained, celebrating. As I looked at the crowd and listened to the noise, I realized something was missing. At first, I didn’t know what it was. Then it dawned on me – for the past 15 years I’d been to multiple games where the stadium emptied out like that, and I’d gotten used to seeing the opposing players standing on their bench, waving towels and celebrating with their fans who had gathered in the lower deck behind the visitors’ bench, as dejected Bills fans left the stadium. An empty stadium usually meant a blow-out loss for the home team. No more.
Of course, everything changes next week. The Chiefs are not the Dolphins, the Washington no-names, or the Texans. Next week is serious football with big implications.
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