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Bills eye rematch against New England + 3 other notes from the victorious locker room | Week 15

Efe Obada (93) Buffalo Bills vs Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium at December 19, 2021. Photo by Craig Melvin
Efe Obada (93) Buffalo Bills vs Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium at December 19, 2021. Photo by Craig Melvin

1. Preparation starts for divisional matchup in New England

With the win on Sunday, next week's matchup against New England has major implications for the division title. The Bills currently sit one game behind the Patriots and a win next week would help jump them and reclaim the top spot in the AFC East. 

The Bills players know the importance of the next game but still aren't making too much of it. One big thing that the players are focused on right now is recovery. 

"I think the very first thing is we need to take care of is our recovery," Harrison Phillips said. "We're coming off of a somewhat physical game obviously, so making sure guys are getting the treatment that we need, so we can make sure we have everyone available for this weekend coming up. … So, we're gonna enjoy the victory here for a day, and get our bodies right, and then lock-in."

Not only does the division title hang in the balance, but this Bills team also has a chance to get back at a team that they lost to only two weeks ago. They can prove to themselves that they are a better team than the one that lost 14-10 in primetime and re-write the story of their season. Tremaine Edmunds still has that bad taste in his mouth from the last time these division rivals played and he's ready to put in the work to change that. 

"We're excited," Edmunds said. "Anytime we're in this position, it's big. I mean, we're excited, but we take it a game at a time now. I know guys will be excited honestly, based on what happened last time, just to have another go-around with them. We know it's gonna be a good challenge for us and our guys are gonna be ready."

2. Efe Obada shines in game against his former team

For the second time this season, the Bills defense sacked the quarterback more than two times in a game. They had four sacks against the Panthers, and two of those came from Efe Obada. 

Obada put on a special performance against his former team on Sunday and created pressure when the team needed it most. In addition to the sacks, he finished the game with three tackles, two tackles for loss, and two QB hits. It's the first time in his career that he's had multiple sacks in a game and is currently second on the team with 3.5 sacks. 

When Obada was in Carolina, he would go against Cam Newton in practice every day, but he wasn't able to hit him. It was a different story on Sunday, and Obada was happy to have a good game against his old team and take down his old quarterback.  

"When I was playing with him, he used to have that red jersey, so that was the quickest ride to go home if you hit him," Obada said. "But no, it just felt really good to hit him now. I asked for his jersey, so I'm putting that out here now, so I can hold him accountable."

On Sunday, it was Obada in the red jersey, and he along with the rest of the Bills' defense held Newton to 156 yards passing and 71 yards rushing. Obada has played in eight games this season and is starting to hit his stride. He's played in five of the last six games, started one of them and his hard work isn't going unnoticed by his teammates. 

"Efe comes to work every day," Jordan Poyer said. "Extremely great teammate, great player and he just comes to work every day and does his job. So it's exciting to see him get I think back to back plays, two sacks, so extremely happy for him."

3. Spencer Brown reflects on his first career game at left tackle

The Bills had to shuffle some players around on the offensive line this week due to Dion Dawkins and Jon Feliciano being placed on the Covid-19/Reserve list. When the Bills found out Sunday morning that Feliciano was put on the Covid list, the coaches and players didn't panic. They made the adjustments that had to be made and ultimately did what they needed to do to win the game. One of the adjustments on the offensive line was moving rookie Spencer Brown from right tackle to left tackle. 

Brown hadn't played left tackle since the summer when Dion Dawkins was dealing with Covid. It was a quick change for Brown, but he knew as a professional that he had to step up and do what he could for his team. 

"Availability is huge," Brown said. "And being able to play both and I honestly didn't play left tackle until I got to training camp and when Dion had Covid. So that was really my first long tenure of playing left tackle. Then not having done it for four months, I went out there on Friday. Friday was my first day of actually doing it and usually, it's more like a walk-through, slowed-down type day. I was taking live reps and just getting the feel of things. I was telling rushers, 'Hey, give me this and give me this.' I was just preparing as much as I could with the reps that I got and then pregame I got a little more reps so it might have been limited but that's no excuse. You have to go out there and play and that's what we did."

Brown played well at the new position throughout the game, but he was penalized quite a bit. Brown had five penalties: three holding calls, one false start, and one taunting call. After the game, Sean McDermott said this game was a valuable learning experience for Brown. But the rookie knows that those flags impacted his team negatively and that he has to eliminate them from his game. 

"That was me being an idiot and hurting my team quite honestly," Brown added. "It can't happen but that doesn't matter. We can't sit here and use the excuse of, 'oh, he's at left tackle and he's probably new to it.' You can't sit here and use it as an excuse. It hurts the team. It can't happen and going into the next week If Dion is back, hopefully, he is - I don't know his situation. If not, I gotta go into next week and I gotta learn how to play left tackle just a little bit better and get the penalties down because obviously it hurts teams and kills drives. Can't happen."

4. Two Bills make franchise history against the Panthers

Both Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen re-wrote the Bills record books on Sunday. 

Stefon Diggs played in his 100th career game Sunday and had four receptions for 35 yards and one touchdown. He currently has 1,007 receiving yards this season and it is the fourth season of his career with 1,000+ yards (reached milestone in each of last 3 seasons – 1,021 in 2018 and 1,130 in 2019 with Min. and career-high/club-record 1,535 with Bills in 2020). He is now the second Bill ever with 1,000+ rec. yds. in consecutive seasons, joining Stevie Johnson (3 straight seasons, 2010-12). 

Josh Allen finished the game against the Panthers completing 19 of his 34 passes for 210 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Allen made history on Sunday, becoming the only Bill with over 30 passing touchdowns in consecutive seasons. 

After the game, Sean McDermott commented on Allen's play and was encouraged how his quarterback got out of an early slump and put his team in position to win the game. 

"I liked how he settled in after the first series or two," McDermott said. "We got a good rhythm going at times. I thought he made some really big-time throws. The scramble on the 3rd and 6 situation, I think they were in man coverage and Josh saw it and took off with it, so that was a big play for us. And, again, just the things you guys don't see from a leadership standpoint, some things in the locker room before the game, and at halftime, I thought were big for us also."