The lights went out on Highmark Stadium as the crowd roared in anticipation of the first primetime game in Orchard Park this season. Suddenly, fireworks shot into the air from around the stadium as the Bills, dressed in red, took the field.
Those, it would turn out, would be among the few fireworks displayed on Sunday evening.
It took all of 60 minutes for the Buffalo Bills to grind out a gritty 14-9 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football in front of a full house at Highmark Stadium. Holding onto a five-point lead, the defense survived a 90-second potential game-winning drive after a pass interference called against Terrel Bernard gave the Giants a shot at the end zone from the one-yard line with zeros on the clock.
Tyrod Taylor sailed a ball over tight end Darren Waller and the crowd erupted as the ball hit the ground.
With quarterback Daniel Jones sitting out with a neck injury, Taylor, who started three seasons for the Bills earlier in his career. Sunday marked the first time Taylor has played against Buffalo in his 13-year career.
While the Bills offense struggled, the Buffalo defense effectively contained the Giants passing and rushing attack for most of the game. They held the Giants to under 300 total yards, had three sacks on the day and did not let up a touchdown in the Bills' win.
Their effort was highlighted in a crucial red zone stop to end the half, that mirrored their red zone defense displayed to end the game.
Late in the second quarter, Taylor completed a deep pass to receiver Darius Slayton for a 31-yard gain. A few plays later, a pass interference called against cornerback Kaiir Elam placed the Giants on the Bills 1-yard line. Terrel Bernard and Christian Benford stuffed Barkley's run up the middle and, with no timeouts, the clock ran out on the Giants' chance to go up two scores to end the half.
The Bills offense got off to a slow start, with their first six drives ending in either a punt, a turnover or a missed field goal.
Gabe Davis fumbled after a quick pass from Allen in the first quarter, which was followed by a field goal drive from the Giants. Late in the second quarter, Allen threw an interception on a deep ball intended for tight end Dawson Knox.
Allen finished with two touchdown passes and 169 passing yards while going 19-for-30.
Tyler Bass missed both of his field goal attempts, which were from 52 and 53 yards deep. Sunday was Bass's first game since November 2021 with multiple missed field goals.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Bills finally got on the scoreboard.
In their first drive of the second half, Bills took nearly 10 minutes off the clock in a 17-play touchdown drive that ended with touchdown catch from Deonte Harty after creating misdirection from the backfield prior to the snap.
There was no shortage of drama on the Bills' first touchdown drive, as four players, Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins and Giants defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, were flagged for unnecessary roughness after a brawl broke out deep in Giants territory.
After being held to just 23 yards on 16 carries in the first half, Barkley got going in the fourth quarter, taking back-to-back runs a total of 53 yards. A holding penalty called against Bernard furthered the Giants momentum, but pressure from rookie linebacker Dorian Williams on third down forced New York to settle for a field goal to take a 9-7 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Allen and the Bills pulled back ahead after a gutsy pass to tight end Quintin Morris resulted in a 15-yard touchdown. Under pressure, Allen rolled to the right and threw a laser to Morris, who made a nice catch in traffic for his first touchdown of the season.
The Bills improve to 4-2 on the season, and 5-0 on Sunday Night Football since 2019 - the longest such streak in team history.
Key Stats and Facts to Know:
- Josh Allen's first touchdown pass of the game marked his 150th career passing touchdown. Allen is the fifth-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach the mark (82 games).
- The Bills were shutout in the first half for the first time in 60 straight halves, snapping their longest streak in franchise history.
- Leonard Floyd's sack brought his total to 6.5 on the season, the most among the Bills' pass rushers this season. Floyd is on pace for over 18 sacks this season, which would easily surpass his single-season high of 10.5, set in 2020 with the Los Angeles Rams.
- The Bills now have the lead in the all-time series against the Giants, leading 8-7. The Bills and Giants met up in Super Bowl XXV, which the Bills lost 20-19 in 1991.
- The Bills got to the quarterback Tyrod Taylor 3 times. Taylor played in Buffalo from 2015-17 and was part of the 2017 team that broke a 17-year playoff drought, which was the longest in professional sports at the time. The Bills defensive front is currently tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the most sacks in the NFL with 24.
- Stefon Diggs finished with 10 catches for 100 yards. He now has 100 or more receiving yards in five of six games this season, the most in the NFL. He passed Bills receiver Lee Evans for the fourth-most receptions in team history with 387.
3:19 Q1 | BUF 0 NYG 3 | Graham Gano 29-yard field goal is GOOD
5:08 Q2 | BUF 0 NYG 6 | Graham Gano 43-yard field goal is GOOD
14:54 Q4 | BUF 7 NYG 6 | Josh Allen pass short left to Deonte Harty for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN
10:35 Q4 | BUF 7 NYG 9 | Graham Gano 29-yard field goal is GOOD
3:48 Q$ | BUF 14 NYG 9 | Josh Allen pass short right to Quintin Morris for 15 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Check out the best photos from the Bills first home primetime game of 2023. This gallery is presented by Gabe's Collision.