I never had a doubt. Not for a single moment. Not even when the New York Giants took the opening kickoff and ran the ball down the Bills throats for a 75 yard touchdown drive. The Bills were the better team. Despite that first drive, their defense is better than the Giants offense and the much improved, new look Bills offense is better than the Giants defense. Both of those facts proved to be true in the Bills workmanlike 28-14 win.
One week after being shut out in the first half in the very same stadium, the Bills offense put together three long touchdown drives. A revamped and improved offensive line, two key new targets in the receiving group and a more confident Josh Allen were all contributing factors. Through the first two games Allen is doing what the coaches had asked in getting the ball out fast and making smart decisions. But the offensive line is also giving Allen clean pockets from which to operate. That is allowing Allen to lean on veteran wideouts like John Brown and Cole Beasley.
The Bills scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions. The first drive went 10 plays, covered 75 yards and included a 26 yard pass to Isaiah McKenzie. The touchdown came on a perfectly executed six yard quarterback sweep with new offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Jon Feliciano leading the way. The second drive was 11 plays for 70 yards and it was highlighted by a great play from Allen. He left the pocket to avoid a free blitzer and while on the run to his right threw a perfect pass to rookie tight end Dawson Knox for an 18 yard gain. This possession also included the Bills converting on three third down pass plays, two to Brown and one to Beasley. The touchdown came on a 14 yard run from rookie back Devin Singeltary but it wouldn’t have happened were it not for key blocks from Morse and fellow O-line pickup Quinton Spain.
The third drive was a thing of beauty. It started at the Bills two yard line(perhaps you were flashing back to the Frank Gore safety at that spot one week earlier). The big play was a 51 yard pass to a wide open Beasley. He was so open there wasn’t a single Giants defender on the TV screen when Beasley caught the ball. Half of the yards were air yards and the other half came on run after the catch. A well executed flip pass to Mckenzie with Knox providing the blocking out on the edge turned into a 19 yard touchdown and the Bills were in command with a 21-7 lead. The 98 yard touchdown drive was the longest for the Bills since 2009. Allen had already topped 200 yards passing through the first four drives. He has now thrown for at least 200 yards in seven straight games dating back to last season. Sadly, that is the longest such streak for a Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly in 1992.
The offense bogged down in the second half due mainly to self inflicted wounds but the defense made sure a team would not rally from a double digit deficit in the second half for the second straight week at Met Life stadium. After that nightmarish opening series where Barkley and the Giants ran roughshod over Bills defenders, that group shut the door. Barkley had 55 yards on four carries to open the game and had 52 yards on 14 carries the rest of the day. The Bills gave up just one touchdown on the Giants’ final 11 drives. The defense came up big in the last part of the second quarter when the Giants were trailing 21-7. New York had gotten a first down at the Bills 30 yard line when the defense stopped them cold. There were solid open field tackles on back to back plays by Siran Neal and then Matt Milano. The Giants appeared to have picked up a first down on a third down Eli Manning throw but a big hit from Micah Hyde knocked the ball loose. The Giants missed a field goal on the next play.
The Giants looked to be in great shape for the final drive of the half when a 60 yard punt return set their offense up at the Bills 33 yard line. But Ed Oliver tipped a Manning pass and it came down in the hands of Trent Murphy. The second half was kind of sluggish for both teams and even though the Giants scored to pull within 21-14 with 11:56 left in the fourth quarter, you never got the feeling the Bills were going to blow this game. When the Bills answered the Giants touchdown with a 13 play, 75 yard TD drive of their own, the game was basically over.
When the schedule came out back in April, while Bills fans might not have been happy with two road games to open the season, they both looked very winnable. The Jets and Giants were not great tests. Both teams look like they will end up below .500 but you still have to take care of business and that is exactly what the Bills did. We are now one Bills win away from the dream scenario, a 3-0 start with New England coming to New Era Field in week four.
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