Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Broncos | Preseason Week 2

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Zack Moss (20) touchdown, called back on a penalty. Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos, Preseason Week 2, August 20, 2022 at Highmark Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert

1 – Offense was humming

Buffalo's starting offense had its debut performance in the preseason on Saturday, and against Denver's second-string defense they were expected to move the ball. The Bills starters checked that box and after their time was done so too did Buffalo's second team offense.

The Bills put up touchdowns on all four of their first-half possessions with 333 total yards of offense through the first two quarters alone.

On the opening drive, Josh Allen was 3-3 passing for 45 yards. Facing a 2nd-and-8 from the Broncos' 28-yard line, Allen stepped up, then spun around to retreat, before stepping up in the pocket again to deliver a touchdown pass to Gabe Davis in the front left side of the end zone.

"Shout out to our guys coming out and playing today, playing hard, making plays," said Allen. "We came out with intensity from the get-go. I'm proud of how we handled ourselves. It was good to see."

Each of Buffalo's top three wideouts made a reception on the first possession, and Devin Singletary had three carries for 21 yards as the Bills never reached third down on the scoring drive that covered 70 yards in just six plays.

Case Keenum then led three consecutive touchdown drives of 80, 78 and 80 yards as he went a sparkling 16-18 passing for 192 yards. His lone touchdown pass capped the scoring in the first half when he found TE O.J. Howard on an isolation route on the back side of the formation for a seven-yard touchdown to make the score 28-6 at the half.

"When he came in the day after the game last week, you could just tell and again, it wasn't an overreaction, but it was a professional's approach," said head coach Sean McDermott of Keenum. "And not that it wasn't before, but you could just tell he was dialed in on what he wanted to get done this week."

Zack Moss accounted for a pair of rushing touchdowns on two goal line carries as the offensive line looked good clearing lanes. The offense was successful both on the ground and through the air. Buffalo averaged 11 yards per play in the first half. They faced only two third downs on 33 first-half plays and converted both.

The situation was much the same in the second half as they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half before finally punting with eight minutes left in regulation. The Bills faced just one third down situation in the second half as the offense finished with 510 total net yards.

2 – Pass rush flashes

Von Miller did not play in Saturday's preseason game, but it didn't slow Buffalo's pass rush pressure off the edge in the early going. Although the Bills gave up a field goal drive on Denver's opening possession, they were effective in moving QB Josh Johnson off his spot and forcing hurried and errant throws.

AJ Epenesa made his presence felt early. Epenesa got to QB Josh Johnson on a 3rd-and-11 for a QB hit that forced a hurried throw incomplete. A defensive penalty kept the Denver drive alive. But three plays later, Shaq Lawson closed and pressured Johnson as he scrambled out in space and batted down his pass to force a Denver punt.

"That's exactly what we want to do. I mean, we wanted to come out and start fast," Epenesa said. "That's my goal every game. We don't want to start out slow giving them an opportunity. We wanted to obviously go three-and-out. We didn't get it in that first series, but we were able to keep them to a field goal. And once we kind of got our rhythm going, we were getting after him in the backfield."

Epenesa added a QB hit and a batted pass to his effort and Boogie Basham and DT Brandin Bryant both had quarterback pressures. Lawson and Greg Rousseau both chipped in quarterback hits.

Even a couple of members of the back seven got to the quarterback. Tremaine Edmunds and rookie CB Christian Benford both had quarterback hits on the afternoon.

Defensive tackle Eli Ankou finally got the elusive sack for Buffalo on the last defensive play of the game for the Bills.

"That just shows how much depth we have from Greg (Rousseau) and Boogie (Basham) to me, Shaq (Lawson) and then Mike Love," said Epenesa. "From the top to the very bottom of our depth chart all the guys can do what is needed of them. They can rush the passer. They could stop the run. This is a unique group. We have so much depth that we have the ability to do a lot of different things."

3 – Scouting special teams

Some players battling for roster spots saw some considerable playing time on special teams. Receiver Isaiah Hodgins, CB Cam Lewis, DB Nick McCloud, and LB Baylon Spector were all used extensively on coverage and return units. All four were deployed on kickoff coverage and kick return. Spector and Hodgins were also on punt team.

"It definitely was a lot of extra stuff," said Hodgins of the additional special teams assignments. "It's something that I've been working with Coach (Matthew) Smiley on. I've still got a lot to clean up and a lot of technique stuff, but I've been trying to learn from the vets and just do my best to get on some special teams."

McCloud had a tackle and initial hit on a pair of kick coverages. Spector had an assisted tackle and Lewis had two tackles on the day on teams.

"I'm just trying to make the most out of my opportunities, and I try to do my job as best as I can," said Lewis. "When the play presents itself whether it's making a tackle or something like that, we're going to try to do it to help the team."

Buffalo's punting competition didn't offer much in the way of evaluation as the Bills did not punt until the fourth quarter. Matt Haack got good hang time on a 38-yard punt that forced a fair catch, much like he did last week on a 39-yard effort. Matt Araiza handled holding duties for a second straight week.

"I thought both had a pretty good week in practice and Matt (Haack) got the opportunity today and put another ball inside or around the 10-yard line I believe it was, so I thought he did a real nice job," said McDermott. "Araiza didn't get any opportunities obviously, but he did hold today so you know, we'll just see as we take it one day at a time move forward here."

More than 69,000 fans attended today's preseason game. Check out the best fans photos from the amazing crowd.

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