A column by CHUCK POLLOCK
Here’s a tip for Bills coach Sean McDermott when he conducts his film review session on Monday: Invite the whole team to watch the entire performance in Buffalo’s 38-10 domination of the Las Vegas Raiders the day before at Highmark Stadium.
You see, that effort, which evened the Bills record at 1-1, was more than an impressive victory, it should also serve as a primer on how Buffalo should be playing every week.
LET’S START with the man who took the blame for last Monday’s 22-16 overtime loss to the Jets at the Meadowlands, quarterback Josh Allen. His contribution (?) to that embarrassment was four turnovers — three interceptions and a lost fumble.
Then, all week, McDermott and Allen were bombarded with questions about why the sixth-year quarterback refuses to step out-of-bounds or slide when on the run and persistently throws into coverage when the Bills are struggling.
McDermott didn’t offer much of an answer: “We’ve been through this experience before in terms of having to reset after a game like that. That’s what I expect (him) to do fully.”
It sounded like boiler-plate stuff, but it turns out, he was right.
Allen took to his homefield looking like a different QB.
He improved his record after a loss to 19-5 and did so in controlled but impressive fashion.
Allen began the game with 13 straight completions, a career high, and finished 31-of-37 passing with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a modest throw-the-ball-underneath total of 274 yards.
He was rarely under pressure, being sacked only twice, and rushed a mere seven yards on three carries. He also shared the wealth throwing for scores to tight end Dawson Knox and wide receivers Gabe Davis and Khalil Shakir.
The only time Allen reverted was on a rush near the Raiders’ goal line when he unsuccessfully tried to vault former college teammate, Marcus Epps, a safety.
McDermott also got his complementary football as his rushing offense finished with 183 yards on 35 carries, the bulk of the work done by second-year pro James Cook who had 123 yards on 17 tries and added 36 yards on four pass receptions for 159 yards total offense.
The defense looked terrible on Las Vegas’ first possession as Jimmy Garoppolo took the Raiders 75 yards on five plays, cashed by a 16-yard TD pass to wide receiver Davante Adams.
But, after that, McDermott’s ‘D’ regrouped, surrendering only 165 yards on 34 plays the rest of the way.
Buffalo’s numbers were impressively dominating: first downs 29-13; offensive yards 450-240; time of possession, 40 minutes to 20; total plays, 74-39.
The point is, the Bills seemed to address the issues that were so apparent in the loss to the Jets.
They seemingly found a second wide receiver in Davis, who had six catches for 92 yards and the TD. The line, which performed so poorly a week earlier, kept Allen’s pocket relatively clean and cleared the way for the running game. Best of all, the offense was so efficient — the QB never forced a throw downfield — the Bills had a 210-yard edge in total offense, a 25-play advantage and double the time of possession.
It’s a simple formula and why the entire team should watch the video together to assimilate what it takes to make it work while it’s still fresh in their minds.
OTHER NOTES from Buffalo’s victory over Las Vegas:
• The Bills’ first takeaway came when defensive end Greg Rousseau tipped a Garoppolo pass and it was intercepted by middle linebacker Terrel Bernard.
• Buffalo’s second takeaway was an interception by outside linebacker Matt Milano who got a pick for the second straight game.
• The Raiders final giveaway came when running back Zamir White fumbled when hit by cornerback Dane Jackson with backup safety Taylor Rapp recovering.
• The Bills’ tackle leader was Bernard with six and in two games of his first season in that role, he’s been credited with 20 stops.
• Las Vegas got sacks of Allen from linebackers Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo, both their first of the season. Spillane had a game-high 14 tackles with nine solos while Deablo added 10 tackles.
• The Raiders starter at right offensive guard was Greg Van Roten, a former Bill.
• Two Buffalo defenders were injured and did not return. Safety Micah Hyde left with a hamstring problem while end Leonard Floyd exited with an ankle issue.
• Buffalo’s inactives were the same as last week: safety Damar Hamlin, cornerback Kaiir Elam, defensive end Kingsley Jonathan, and offensive tackles Germain Ifedi and Alec Anderson.
— Las Vegas’ two key inactives were wide receiver Jakobi Myers (hamstring) and pass rusher Chandler Jones (personal issues).
(Chuck Pollock, a Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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