Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills return to the basics in rebounding from season-opening dud

RCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Every so often, the head-strong Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills need a reminder that each player needs to stick to their individual role, or as coach Sean McDermott often preaches — their one-eleventh.

It’s a lesson that appeared to be reinforced over the past week in which Allen and the Bills finally began resembling the efficient well-oiled machine that’s won three straight AFC East titles in a 38-10 rout of the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. It was a much-needed showing, especially, following a season-opening dud at the New York Jets.

And maybe this time, the lesson will stick for a team that continues having Super Bowl aspirations despite no longer being the chic pick to win it all as Buffalo was a year ago.

A little humility helps, McDermott said.

“I know I keep talking about humble and hungry, I just believe in that,” McDermott said, following the win. “The minute you get over your skis in this league is the minute you get bit. And today’s a great teacher.”

What’s important is how the Bills quickly righted their season with a complementary display of teamwork that overwhelmed the Raiders.

Six days after committing four turnovers, Allen threw three touchdown passes and just six incompletions, in finishing with the second-best completion rate (83.78 percent) of his six-year career. And Allen didn’t have to rely on Stefon Diggs to carry the load in completing passes to nine players, led by Gabe Davis’ six catches for 92 yards and a TD.

Buffalo’s running attack found its legs with James Cook’s 123 yards rushing the most by a Bills running back since LeSean McCoy had 156 in 2017.

And the defense came together. After allowing the Raiders to go up 7-0 on a five-play, 75-yard opening drive, Las Vegas managed just 165 more yards on its final 34 snaps, while committing three turnovers and were limited to less than 20 minutes in time of possession.

It was the all-around effort Buffalo lacked in a 22-16 overtime loss to the Jets.

The Bills response was both welcome and expected by McDermott.

“The discipline was present really with the whole team, in particular Josh” he said.

Allen looked comfortable in completing short passes after showing impatience against New York. The quarterback let the skill players around him perform, which was evident in Allen having three carries for 7 yards rushing. It was only the ninth time he’s finished a game with 10 or fewer yards rushing, and he’s 8-1 in those outings.

“I think everything in moderation is what the game plan was, and that’s the way we have to play,” McDermott said. “That’s how you win games, on the offensive side at least.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Limiting first downs. The Bills have allowed 13 first downs in each of the first two games. The 26 first downs allowed is the lowest two-game total since Buffalo gave up a combined 22 in the final two regular-season games of the 2021 season. The Bills allowed 13 or fewer first downs in a game only twice last season as opposed to six times in ’21.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

A small issue after a dominating performance, but the Bills could be better on their opening drive. In two games, Buffalo has managed a combined eight plays for 22 yards and one first down on each opening drive. This is a carryover from last season, when the Bills endured a nine-game stretch in which their opening drives ended with six punts, an interception, fumble and field goal.

STOCK UP

RB James Cook averaged 7.2 yards per carry in posting his first career 100-yard outing, while adding four catches for 36 yards in providing the offense a semblance of balance.

STOCK DOWN

WR Trent Sherfield. The offseason free agent addition has yet to be targeted in two games despite combining to play 43 offensive snaps, including 32 against the Raiders.

INJURIES

S Micah Hyde hurt his hamstring against the Raiders, and DE Leonard Floyd hurt his ankle, with McDermott referring to both as being day to day.

KEY NUMBER

9:01 — The length of the Bills opening drive of the second half, which Allen capped by throwing across his body to squeeze a touchdown pass to Davis, who was bracketed by two defenders on fourth-and-goal from the 2. It was Buffalo’s longest drive since one that lasted 9:22 in a 21-19 loss at Miami a little more than a year ago.

NEXT STEPS

Buffalo travels to play the Washington Commanders, who are off to a 2-0 start under second-year quarterback Sam Howell. Since 2019, the Bills are 18-2 when facing opposing quarterbacks with 16 or fewer career starts.

In those games, Buffalo has combined for 54 sacks, 27 interceptions while allowing just 12 touchdowns passing.

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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