In what turned out to be a statement win against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Bills' superstars rose to the occasion to kick off their season with a 31-10 win against the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and outside linebacker Von Miller helped the team find their groove, especially in the second half, and ultimately shut down the Rams. Here's how the three playmakers led the Bills to victory:
Josh Allen always finds a way to shine under the bright lights and in big moments, which is what he did once again on Thursday night. Playing in front of friends and family for the first time in his hometown state and against the reigning Super Bowl champs, it was inevitable that Allen was going to make a mark on the season opener.
"We needed to put our best foot forward, try to execute the way we know we can execute, and just try to win a game that's all," Allen said. "1-0 is our mindset each week, playoff caliber. That's what we're trying to do. That's what Coach McDermott preaches and that's what our mindset and mentality is every time we step in our facility."
Now the last time Allen stepped foot on the field during preseason, he connected with wide receiver Gabe Davis in the end zone for a touchdown. Tonight, he picked up right where he left off and opened up the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Davis for the first TD of the 2022 NFL season on the Bills' first possession.
Allen didn't stop there. On top of completing 10 consecutive pass attempts to open the game, the quarterback had four total touchdowns, 297 passing yards for 26/31 completions, and recorded a team-high in rushing yards with 56.
"I like winning," Allen said." Whatever I'm asked to do, I'm willing to do. Limiting the hits, obviously slide and getting out of bounds, that's above the utmost importance there. The best ability is availability. But when I'm called upon to do something for my team, I'm willing to do it."
"He's a creature," Von Miller said. "He's the leader of our team. We kind of follow his lead. He's a tough guy out there, running guys over, stiff-arming guys, had a lot of success tonight, and we just kind of fed off each other. Those are the games that you want to play in."
Thursday's victory marked Allen's 40th win as the Bills QB and first win under offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who Allen thought called a 'heck of a game.'
"It's his first live-action, so I'm proud of him for handling the situations how he did," Allen said."We were 90% on third down, that's a recipe for success. Four turnovers, that's way too many. We've got a lot to clean up, but we'll celebrate this one. It's hard to win in this league, especially against good teams, and that's a really good team we just played."
The Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen connection was back in full force on Thursday night.
"I feel like my job is to get it started, get the quarterback comfortable, opening up for wherever else on other guys, and getting to the hole," Diggs said. "They're getting me open, too, so it all works hand in hand."
While Allen led the offensive charge in passing and rushing, Diggs put on a receiving show with eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. The statement play came in the fourth quarter on a 53-yard reception by Diggs who beat Rams CB Jalen Ramsey in coverage.
Diggs explained that Allen told the receiver to just run and get open prior to his TD play. Allen completed the longest play of the night as Diggs got wide open.
"That actually wasn't even original play, so shout out to Josh," Diggs said. "Josh sees a lot of things at the quarterback position that you might not see at the receiver position. One thing I learned, do what the quarterback tells you."
Head coach Sean McDermott thought the call for Allen to throw it deep to Diggs was a great call by Ken Dorsey. With the help of the offensive line, it was an all-around good play call and execution, especially going up against defensive tackle Aaron Donald who was limited to just two tackles.
"We knew coming in we had to be efficient offensively," McDermott said. "I thought we did a good job taking what they gave us, Josh was very patient and the receivers were running crisp routes. We're going to do that, take what they give us there."
Miller trusted his preparation heading into his return to SoFi Stadium and the outcome is exactly what he was hoping for. And while there were emotions surrounding Thursday night and going up against his former team, Miller used those emotions to propel him forward every time he stepped on the field.
"You want everybody to have a good game, but you want the guys over here to score a little bit more and you want to win the game," Miller said. "So, we got that done. Everybody balled out today, everybody on the defense and everybody in the offense."
Miller's two sacks against his former teammate Matthew Stafford and four tackles contributed to the Bills' strong performance on defense. The Bills applied constant pressure on the Rams' offensive line throughout the night and set a franchise record for most sacks in the opening game with seven.
"You can look in our eyes and you could tell that everybody was hungry, and everybody wanted this game," Miller said. "Everybody expected success today. We went out there, took it one play at a time, and here we are."
Diggs credits Miller as a leader from the first day he joined the Bills organization. Miller brings influential energy and makes big plays, and Diggs noticed that feeds off on the rest of the defense, which was noticeable in their performance on Thursday night.
"You see guys flying around, guys making plays, getting picks," Diggs said, "It's a butterfly effect. I'm not on the defense, but I can see their energy out there. I can see them playing at a high level. He came in and has been everything we wanted him to be."
While the team is going to celebrate their success on the flight back to Buffalo, Miller shared that they're going to get back in the lab tomorrow to focus on areas of their game that they can improve on and key in on what they did well to prepare for the home opener next Monday against Tennessee.
"We're going to make the plane do backflips on the way home and then tomorrow, kind of digest kind of what happened tonight and then move forward," Miller said. "We got a big Monday night game coming up against the Tennessee Titans."
Scroll for game photos between the Buffalo Bills at the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 of the 2022 season.