Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - Six days after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Buffalo Bills put a beatdown on the Las Vegas Raiders, 38-10, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.
Let’s break down Buffalo's first win of the 2023 season by examining the six major facets:
Pass offense: A
That’s more like it.
While it was against the Raiders, it was still a beatdown of glorious proportions.
The matchup with the biggest question mark, Spencer Brown vs. Maxx Crosby, still was largely in favor of the Bills.
Josh Allen made sure to take what was given to him, which was a lot. Allen finished the game going 31-of-37 for 274 yards, three touchdowns and, more importantly, no turnovers. That thanks, in part, to a mostly clean pocket (sacked twice).
Allen was able to keep picking apart a hapless Raiders defense that didn’t want to give up the big play.
Head coach Sean McDermott mentioned during the week there needed to be a bigger impact from the receivers aside from Stefon Diggs, and the Bills got just that from Gabe Davis in this game. Davis led the way with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills had nine different players record a reception, including Khalil Shakir, who reeled in a touchdown. Also, rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid added five catches for 43 yards.
Run offense: A+
When the Bills have games with major rushing totals, it is typically expected that Allen had a major role in that number. Instead, Allen had only seven of Buffalo’s 183 rushing yards.
James Cook popped off with 123 yards on 17 carries, while Damien Harris and Latavius Murray each had a touchdown on red zone opportunities. That would help limit how often the Bills should rely on Allen to absorb hits for goal line carries.
Even taking away Cook’s 36-yard carry in garbage time, the second-year back was very good, especially outside of the tackles on Sunday. The sprint draw with Cook left something to be desired, but that is nitpicking to find any sort of area of concern.
Pass defense: A-
While Davante Adams got his (six catches, 84 yards, one touchdown), the Bills were able to frustrate Las Vegas after the opening drive of the game.
Despite registering zero sacks, the pass rush was a thorn in the side of Jimmy Garoppolo all afternoon, with the Raiders quarterback only notching 185 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
The Bills got hit with a pair of screens on the opening drive, but then Greg Rousseau broke up their next attempt at a screen, leading to the first interception by Terrel Bernard. Matt Milano joined the fun later on with an interception that he ripped away from Josh Jacobs, the intended target.
The team did give up some soft third down conversions, but the secondary overall had a stellar game.
Run defense: A+
For anyone that watched this game, congratulations! You had more rushing yards than last year’s rushing champion!
After putting up 1,653 yards on the ground in 2022, Jacobs ended up with nine carries and minus-2 yards on the afternoon. Jacobs was behind the eight-ball all afternoon, starting from the very first play of the game when Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver blew up the run for a loss of four.
The Raiders had a total of 55 yards on the ground, with more than half of that on the opening drive on a reverse. Even when backup Zamir White added to the totals in garbage time, he fumbled the ball away to the Bills to end the day.
Special teams: A
Damien Harris had an impressive kick return of 41 yards. Other than that, it was a very quiet day for the special teams unit for the Bills.
Sam Martin’s only punt was 54 yards and no return, and the only kickoff return went for 23 yards.
Tyler Bass had a solid day, drilling his only field goal and all five extra point attempts.
It was a worrisome start, but this game turned into the medicine everyone needed after Monday night’s debacle.
Anytime you have the ball for two-thirds of the game, it is typically a successful game. McDermott’s defense rebounded after giving up the opening touchdown, while the offense under offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was a mix of efficient and devastating without needing a big play.
The Bills often respond positively to a loss, with the results almost making you feel bad for their opponent. Buffalo made sure to make the Raiders look like the bottom feeder they have become under head coach Josh McDaniels.
The real test will likely arrive in a couple of weeks against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium.
The Bills head out on the road again to face the Washington Commanders on Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. ET with pregame coverage on WGR starting at 7 a.m. ET.