BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Washington had no shot in this game.
There might not be any one thing the Bills have in abundance more than togetherness. This team gets along like no team I’ve ever covered and like few teams in sports.
They like each other. They like being around each other. They constantly talk about how much each player wants to work hard because they don’t want to let down the guy next to them. Winning certainly helps all this, but it’s also the culture that Sean McDermott wanted and successfully built in Buffalo.
So, when it was revealed that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll lost his grandmother this week — a woman who helped raise him quite a bit as a child — there was just no way this Bills team was not going to rally together with a big game in support of their offensive coordinator.
The team on the other sideline did not matter.
Josh Allen had one of those elite, stupid good days with five combined touchdowns, well over 300 yards passing and no big negative plays. He even did all that without throwing a single touchdown to Stefon Diggs (much to the chagrin of many fantasy owners, myself included). When Diggs is your third-best receiver and you still put up 40 points, good bleeping luck to everybody else.
Earlier this week, Emmanuel Sanders said his chemistry with Josh Allen was an 8 out of 10. After this game, he upped that number to a 10 out of 10 with a giant smile giving away a belief that number might actually be higher. Throw in Cole Beasley matching his career-high with 11 receptions and the Bills will walk away from this game confident they have three high-level receiving weapons that can carry the offense for stretches.
Let’s not forget the Bills again topped 100 yards rushing the ball. For all the fans nervous about the subpar offensive performances in weeks one and two, this game was a three-hour exhale.
The players and coaches have made it clear since the opener they were never holding their breath, but they were no less happy to see the pinball numbers back on their side of the offensive stats column.
“That’s the offense we know and love,” Micah Hyde said. “Even when they have bad games, we know they’ll bounce back.”
This game was everything the team and its fan base imagined for the 2021 offense. No drive better encapsulated how good it can be than the field goal at the end of the first half. With the ball on the 20 and 26 seconds to go, I’d say 30 out of 32 teams take a knee and go to the locker room up ten and feeling very satisfied with themselves. Not this Bills team.
My initial thought on chasing points was maybe the Bills would give Tyler Bass a shot at a long field goal with the wind at his back. Maybe take a swing at an NFL record (something Justin Tucker later broke himself anyway). Instead, Allen moved Buffalo 52 yards in just 24 seconds. When he was done, Bass barely had to wind up to connect from 47 yards.
Allen appreciated getting the green light from the coaches to push for points. “That type of trust you have in your offense, you feel that,” he said. The Bills offense had a really good first half, but the previous four halves were lackluster by their standards. It takes a pretty sizable chunk of trust for McDermott to run his offense out on the field still hunting points in that spot.
I have to assume the offensive line earned some faith they could avoid disaster on that drive from their work over the first 29 minutes. The big fellas up front weren’t perfect today. Having Allen to cover up the occasional missed pass block never hurts. For the most part, the O-line turned Chase Young and his merry band of first-round friends into just another group of guys.
Not that the offense needed it much, but can’t leave out the defense in the kudos from this game. Two games in a row now with three turnovers. Hyde joked that the film session on Monday would include a lot of trash talk between himself and Jordan Poyer over which guy should be more embarrassed about not returning their interceptions all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.
This defense is oozing with confidence and swagger through three weeks. That’s to be expected when the worst thing you have to worry about is taking heat for not finishing a pick-six.
The chemistry among these players and coaches and the belief in each other might be the Bills’ greatest strength. It’s their secret weapon. Their X-factor. It might also be the kind of thing that can make a difference in late January.
On this day in September, it made the Bills unbeatable.