Josh Allen fell into the arms of his offensive coordinator in the locker room after a November win over Seattle last season, less than 24 hours after the passing of his grandmother.
On Sunday, the roles were reversed. The Bills dedicated their 43-21 victory over the Washington Football Team to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who lost his own grandmother during the week.
Allen said he and Daboll shared another heartfelt hug afterward.
"He's a guy that I love dearly," Allen said. "To go out there and play the way we did for him, the guys understood that, and we wanted to go and execute and play well for him."
Daboll and his players dialed up their best performance of the young season, amassing 481 total yards while establishing the rhythm that was a staple of their AFC-leading offense in 2020.
"My heart aches for him," Allen said. "And I think our guys on offense would say the same thing. He cares so much about football and care so much about being the best version of himself for us to put ourselves in situations to be successful.
"He takes everything very personal about this game. That's why we love him. You know, he's an extremely fiery competitor. And when you see a guy hurting, you know, guys rally around that and they want to try to help ease that pain and ease that tension."
Here are three takeaways from the victory, beginning with a return to form from the Bills quarterback.
1. Allen's record-setting day
Allen was critical of his performance through two weeks during his session with the media on Wednesday, saying it was "no secret" he had not played his best. It was a particularly harsh self-assessment given the Bills were coming off a 35-0 victory in Miami.
The quarterback responded by completing 32 of 43 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns, the latter of which matched a career high. It was his fifth career game with at least four passing touchdowns and 300 yards, already the most in franchise history.
Allen added a rushing touchdown to break Jack Kemp's franchise record, with 26.
"I just care so much about my teammates and my biggest fear is letting them down," Allen said.
Allen set the tone for the afternoon on the opening drive. After throwing an incompletion on his first attempt, he sidestepped pressure and delivered a 23-yard strike to Gabriel Davis to convert on third-and-15. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from that point forward, capping the drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass delivered on the run to Emmanuel Sanders.
It was more of the same all day. Allen kept the offense rolling by spreading the ball with quick strikes. When the vaunted Washington pass rush did create pressure, Allen was able to escape and either find a receiver or throw the ball out of bounds.
"Felt pretty good in terms of just getting the ball out, seeing the defense, what they were doing early on," Allen said. "But again, it takes 11 guys out there. And we were pretty much all on the same page throughout the game today."
2. Beasley, Sanders and the offensive standard
With Allen's breakout game came a resurgent performance from the Bills passing attack. Cole Beasley matched his career high with 11 receptions and accumulated a game-high 98 yards. Sanders had 94 yards on five receptions, including his first two touchdowns with the Bills.
Eight different Bills had at least one reception, another defining trait of the 2020 team.
Beasley said the entire offense shared Allen's disappointment regarding their performance over the first two weeks, even following the 35-0 win over the Dolphins.
"The standard's high, man," Beasley said. "Yeah, there's expectations from the outside but there's no expectations higher than the ones we hold for ourselves. So, that was really what it was. It wasn't just me feeling that way. It was a lot of guys on the offense. We're hungry and we know what we can do, and we feel like we didn't do our part as much as we could have last week."
At no point did the Bills look more capable than during their offensive drives before and after halftime, two very different situations that both ended with points on the board.
The first drive began on the Buffalo 20-yard line with 26 seconds remaining in the half. The Bills possessed all three timeouts and opted to try and extend 24-14 lead. Allen methodically completed four passes for 51 yards, setting up a 48-yard field goal for Tyler Bass as time expired.
The Bills had the opportunity to "double dip," as the team refers to it, after the defense earned a three-and-out to open the second half. This time they strung together a 17-play march from the Buffalo 7-yard line that chewed 8:17 off the game clock and ended with an Allen touchdown pass to Sanders.
"Stuff like that hurts for a defense if we can run down the field with 93 yards and also scoring before halftime," left tackle Dion Dawkins said. "That is definitely a haymaker punch how I would see it.
"We do that stuff every day in practice, like we start our practice doing that two-minute hurry up situational football every day. Not to say that it was practice out there, but we have the knowledge of doing it before actually putting it into play because coach (Sean) McDermott and Brian Daboll, they put us in those situations every day."
3. Defensive takeaways
The Bills built their 21-0 lead during the first half thanks in part to a pair of turnovers that set them up with favorable field position. Matt Milano pounced on a fumble for the second straight week after Tre'Davious White punched the ball free from Logan Thomas near midfield. Jordan Poyer intercepted quarterback Taylor Heinicke at the Washington 17-yard line on the very next drive.
Buffalo turned both takeaways into touchdowns. Micah Hyde added another interception that led to a Tyler Bass field goal during the third quarter.
The Bills defense now has five takeaways over its last two games after going without a turnover against Pittsburgh in Week 1.
"We preach all the time, takeaways, takeaways," Hyde said. "We do it at practice. And once you get in the game, as long as you're playing fast, with effort, you hope it comes. And today we got some opportunities."