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Top 3 Things We Learned

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

The Bills got in the win column for the first time in 2023 as they handily beat the Raiders 38-10 in the home opener.

With a resounding bounce-back victory, here's the top three things we learn from Buffalo's performance.

Josh Allen shows both efficiency and effectiveness in Week 2 rebound

Bills quarterback Josh Allen says he doesn't pay attention to the outside criticism after any loss, mainly because he's already hyper critical of himself. Instead, Allen uses those low points as fuel for the next week to make sure the negatives don't carry over.

"It makes the good feel that much better. You know it forces us to be better and I want to be the best I can be playing this game," he said Sunday.

Calm and collected, Allen had his highest completion percentage in a game since last year's season opener against the Rams and the second-highest in team history. He completed 31 of 37 passes (83.8%) for 274 yards and three touchdowns.

It's just the second time in his career that he's completed at least 80% of his passes, with 3 or more passing touchdowns and no interceptions. 

"Just as getting back to who we feel like we are," Allen said of the team's approach. "Stayed pretty balanced, thought Dorsey called a great game in terms of switching it up and giving our guys some options."

Allen started the game 13 for 13 passing and his first incompletion of the game didn't come all the way until the 2:56 mark of the second quarter. His precision early in the game helped the Bills shake off a 7-0 deficit as Allen led three first-half scoring drives. 

Even after a four-turnover Week 1 game, Allen said his mindset — and the offense's mindset — was to just focus on execution. The QB didn't try to play any different than he normally does.

"It was still 'Be me'," Allen shared. "Let our guys make some plays and our guys did make some plays."

Allen still showed he has the ability to make jaw-dropping plays at any time as two of his three TD passes came while he was on the run outside the pocket. The first came to Dawson Knox on a 2nd & goal play from the 2-yard line, the other was a fourth-down play to Gabe Davis. 

Allen has thrown 12 TD passes on the run since 2022, 3 more than any other QB, per Next Gen Stats. 

He also spread the wealth around, completing passes to nine different receivers. 

The versatility of this offense is really fun," said Knox, who recorded his first TD of the season. "We never know if we're gonna have a bunch of catches or have to block a bunch in the game, but that's what Ken Dorsey does so well. Josh (Allen) does such an amazing job of spreading the ball around, so just the more weapons you can use I feel like the harder it would be to gameplan."

The 38 points scored are the most the Bills have put up since Week 5 of last season.

Fourth down decisions prove critical

The Bills converted just seven fourth down plays in 2022. They are nearly halfway to that total through two games this season, picking up three fourth downs against the Raiders. 

Two of those conversions came on one drive in the second half and the end result put the Bills up by three scores.

The Bills found the end zone at the end of the first half and got the ball to start the second half with a chance to double-dip.

They needed just three plays to get across midfield, but then Buffalo methodically moved the ball after that with gains of 5, 3, 10, 6 and 3 to get it to the Raiders' 12-yard line and facing a 4th & 1. 

Sean McDermott decided to trust the offense and that was rewarded with a two-yard sneak by Josh Allen for a fresh set of downs. When the offense couldn't pick up a 3rd & goal on the next set of downs, McDermott initially sent in the field goal unit before calling a timeout. The 30-second pause allowed him to reassess the situation and ultimately make the call to try and go up three scores.

"I wanted to think more about that," McDermott shared.

Out of the timeout, the offense ran back onto the field. On the 15th-play of the drive, Allen rolled to his right, threw across his body and found a leaping Gabe Davis for a touchdown. Buffalo went up 28-10 in a pivotal drive. 

"It was a chance to really widen the gap and maybe slam the door right there," McDermott added. "A heck of a catch right in traffic."

The scoring drive chewed up 9:01 of game clock resulting in the longest touchdown drive by the Bills since the 2016 season.

Defense shifts the momentum

Just looking at the score, it's easy to miss the fact that the Bills did not start the game out on the right foot. They dug themselves an early 7-0 hole after the Raiders marched down for a 75-yard touchdown drive to begin the game.

But a Terrel Bernard interception on the second drive shifted the momentum back to Buffalo.

"For sure (it did)," McDermott said. "You know, turnovers in this game, we know it well. They have the most impact on the game."

The offense tied it up thanks to the short field and Buffalo continued to roll from there. The defense stifled RB Josh Jacobs on nearly every carry, holding him to -2 rushing yards on 9 carries. 

It's the first time since 1970 that the reigning NFL rushing champion has been held to negative yards rushing in a game, according to ESPN.

"We knew we had to stop the run," safety Jordan Poyer said. "That was our biggest emphasis throughout the week.

All Pro LB Matt Milano had another game-shifting play in the second half, picking off Jimmy Garoppolo with an absurdly athletic play where he reached over Jacobs to make the INT. It's the second game in a row Milano has recorded an interception.

"That boy is living right now," safety Micah Hyde laughed. 

He added: "He's been making plays for years, but just the confidence that he has right now, it's really awesome to see.

Get an inside look at the best celebration photos on the field and in the locker room after the 38-10 win over the Raiders.

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