Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills at Raiders | Week 4

Josh Norman (29) fumble recovery Buffalo Bills vs Las Vegas Raiders, October 4, 2020 at Allegiant Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert
Josh Norman (29) fumble recovery Buffalo Bills vs Las Vegas Raiders, October 4, 2020 at Allegiant Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Defense stands tall in 4th quarter

The Bills defense was the subject of criticism last week after they allowed the Rams to score 29 unanswered points to take a late lead, forcing Buffalo's offense to step up with some late game heroics. On Sunday, it was the defense that sparked the team in the fourth quarter as they thwarted three straight Raiders possessions with turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"We were talking all week that we've got to find ways to make plays," said Jordan Poyer. "The first half we couldn't get off the field on third down. Second half we found some ways to get some stops and take the football away and I think that changed the game dramatically."

After the offense was able to extend a precarious one-point lead to seven on a one-yard sneak by Josh Allen at the start of the fourth quarter, Buffalo's defense forced a turnover.

The Raiders had moved into Buffalo territory and faced a 2nd-and-11 at the Bills 36. Derek Carr found TE Darren Waller near the right sideline, but as he turned up field to get yards after the catch, Josh Norman swooped in and punched the ball out of the tight end's grasp as Jordan Poyer tackled Waller.

"I tried to get Waller the first time earlier in the game and he just shrugged me off," said Norman. "A big 6-6 guy would do that if you don't wrap up. And I was actually going for the ball then but just his momentum pushed him forward and I just slipped off of him. And I was just shaking my head about it. But then I was biding my time and I was able to see him in the flat again. And somebody was there to tackle him. I know he always likes to fight for extra yardage so when I came in I just went for it with my left hand and just struck it and it popped."

Norman went scrambling for the loose ball scooping it up before going out of bounds to lock up the takeaway.

The turnover provided a much-needed spark to a team that again had labored through the third quarter.

"That play by Josh was just tremendous," said Quinton Jefferson. "He's one of the best in the game at punching the ball out and he just made a play and it gave the whole team life and juice.

Buffalo's offense came on the field and quickly scored to make it a two-score game on a quick-hitting four-play scoring drive, that essentially put the game out of reach.

On the ensuing possession, Buffalo's defense got a turnover of a different kind. Following a third-down stop by Micah Hyde on Jalen Richard on a 3rd-and-5, it brought up and 4th-and-1. Ed Oliver overpowered his one-on-one matchup shedding his block and getting into the offensive backfield where he stopped Josh Jacobs short of the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.

After Buffalo's offense went three-and-out, unable to kill much time on the clock, the Bills defense stood tall again.

Las Vegas had moved the ball into Buffalo territory a second time down to the Bills 33, Quinton Jefferson collapsed the pocket, sacked Derek Carr forcing him to fumble and then fell on the loose ball.

"It is something we practice all the time," said Jefferson. "You rush and you want to finish. I was coming up, I was powering and I knew he was stepping and going to climb the pocket. I saw the ball, I just tried to rake it out and try to make a play for my team."

Without fans to juice up a defense, the Bills defense felt the big plays they were able to make built one on top of the other. They know they're still far from playing their best, but Sunday was an encouraging sign for them.

"It's a long season. We're just starting to mesh together," said Jefferson. "We're still getting a feel for each other. I think we're only going up. We're 4-0 and we're just going to keep growing, keep meshing together. I'm excited for what the future holds."

2. Josh Allen still stacking touchdowns

It wasn't a 300-yard passing day, but once again Buffalo's quarterback provided in the most important statistical category, points.

Josh Allen threw two more touchdown passes Sunday against Las Vegas and had a one-yard sneak for another. His three-touchdown tally made him just the second quarterback in NFL history to have at least two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in three of his team's first four games (Steve Grogan, 1976).

More importantly, Allen continues to make the difficult look easy. He had a 26-yard touchdown toss to a wide open Gabriel Davis and then a laser ball to Cole Beasley for an 11-yard score.

"I saw (Beasley) just kind of wide open and I just tried to throw it in there really hard and the ball got a little high on me but he made one heck of a catch there and the first time for him this season touching the paint, so it's always good to get a guy in the end zone," said Allen. "He's been crucial for our success for the last couple years. He's just a guy that's hard to guard. He's a very smart player. He wants the ball. He's always ready when his number's called."

Allen's one-yard sneak early in the fourth quarter helped put some distance between the Bills and Raiders after Las Vegas had shrunk an 11-point lead down to one late in the third quarter.

His rushing touchdown exploits have been readily apparent the last two seasons. It's the ease at which he's delivering throws on target and even under duress or on the run that's been downright impressive. He completed more than 70 percent of his passes again Sunday.

Head coach Sean McDermott attributes it to the rigors they put Allen through during training camp knowing they didn't have the benefit of a preseason.

"Early in the year (opponents) are trying to throw a lot of different looks at him. That just gives him good experience. And then we did that in training camp," McDermott said. "Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier would tell you we went out of our way in training camp, to make sure we gave him different looks and I think that helps. But at the end of the day you got to do it come game time and he's done that. I think when the offense can be on the same page that alignment is critical. Whether it's communication, execution, it's all so important."

3. Injury bug bites Bills hard

The Bills came into Sunday's game relatively healthy in comparison to their opponent on Sunday in Las Vegas. But both teams sustained a series of injuries depleting both rosters.

Early in the first half, Levi Wallace suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Cole Beasley sustained a foot injury but was able to return to the game.

Josh Allen scared Bills fans the most when he went to the locker room with a left shoulder injury at the end of the half, but he returned to the game and finished.

"Yeah, I just kind of landed on a little funky and just the left shoulder," Allen said after the game. "It's not the right one, thank God, but no it's no big deal. I had to play through the pain and we'll obviously get some treatment on it probably this week but it shouldn't inhibit anything."

RG Brian Winters, who started for the second consecutive week, suffered a right knee injury and was replaced in the lineup by Quinton Spain.

And in the fourth quarter Matt Milano was sidelined with a pectoral injury and did not return to the game. He was replaced by Tyrel Dodson.

All told three starters did not return to the game.

If the Bills Week 5 game against the Titans can't be played this coming week due to their COVID outbreak, it could prove to be helpful in letting some of Buffalo's players heal up.

Scroll through to see photos of all the action as the Bills take on the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium, presented by Imagine Staffing.

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