The Buffalo Bills continued their tour of the NFC South with a home date against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Highmark Stadium.
Coming off a gutting overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bills needed a win to keep their playoff hopes intact.
While things didn't get off to a great start, the Bills were able to bounce back and earn a 31-14 victory over the Panthers in Orchard Park.
Each team struggled out of the gate, with both the Panthers and the Bills going three-and-out on their opening drives. When the Panthers got the ball back for the second time, they were able to drive deep into Bills territory, but were stopped with a turnover on downs at the Buffalo 24-yard-line.
The Panthers had to go for it, as they were without their kicker, Zane Gonzalez, who suffered a quad injury during pregame warmups.
After the Bills punted the ball back to the Panthers, Carolina suffered another turnover on downs at the Buffalo 50-yard line. It was then where the Bills offense went to work.
Josh Allen completed two big throws on the drive to tight end Dawson Knox and wide receiver Stefon Diggs to set up a 1st-and-10 run from the Panthers' 16-yard-line. Devin Singletary did the rest from there, finding the end zone for the game's opening score.
Singletary's touchdown was the first Bills rushing touchdown by a running back since he scored against the New York Jets in Week 10.
The Panthers got the ball back, but gave it right back to the Bills after another three-and-out.
Buffalo started the drive from their own 43-yard line and began ripping off three chunk plays in a row, with two 10-plus yard passes completed by Allen before Devin Singletary gained 21 yards to Carolina's 35-yard line. After a 15-yard face mask penalty by Carolina, that put Buffalo at the Panthers' 14-yard line.
Just two plays later, Allen picked on a 1-on-1 matchup between Diggs and former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and it was Buffalo's wideout coming out on top.
Diggs' touchdown reception gives him eight on the season, matching his total from last season with the Bills. He is now one touchdown reception away from tying his career high of nine set with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.
After another forced punt by the Buffalo defense, Allen made his first mistake of the afternoon when he tried to force a throw to Diggs. Allen got perfectly baited by safety Jeremy Chinn, which led to an interception, his 12th of the year and his ninth in the past eight games.
With the interception, the Panthers got things started at the Bills' 37-yard-line. An end-around to Panthers receiver Robbie Anderson went for 30 yards and brought the Panthers closer to the end zone. Two plays later, quarterback Cam Newton called his own number and scored the Panthers' first touchdown of the game. It was Newton's fifth-straight game with a rushing touchdown.
The Bills ended up tacking on a Tyler Bass field goal to close out the half with Buffalo leading 17-8.
The Bills and Panthers began the second half trading possessions before punting each time.
The Bills started driving with the offense on their next possession. While the drive seemed to stall early after a sack by Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Panthers defensive tackle Bravvion Roy must have said something officials didn't like on the sideline, as he took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that extended Buffalo's drive.
The Bills immediately took advantage of this with a huge 28-yard play to Gabriel Davis to the Carolina 18-yard line. Two plays later, Allen found Davis again to put the Bills up two scores.
The Panthers drove the field for 17 plays on the next drive, bringing it all the way to Bills' 10-yard-line. However, the injury to their kicker in the pregame came back to bite the Panthers here.
On a 4th-and-5 from the Bills' 10-yard line, the Panthers had no choice but to go for it, and Newton had his pass batted at the line of scrimmage to turn the ball over on downs yet again.
The Bills didn't get much going on their next drive and punted it right back to the Panthers. Bills punter Matt Haack didn't get a lot of leg on his kick, allowing Newton and the Panthers to start their next drive from Buffalo's 43-yard-line.
Four plays later, Newton found running back Ameer Abdullah over the middle, and the running back took it the rest of the way.
After trading possessions one last time, the Bills would get the ball back with 6:11 to go in the game. The Bills ended up eating four minutes of clock before Allen, once again, found Davis for the duo's second touchdown connection of the game.
The Panthers would get the ball back one more time in an attempt to, for all intents and purposes, make the score look better for themselves. Bills linebacker A.J. Klein didn't allow them to, as he intercepted Newton to close out the game.
- NO SCORING
- 7-0 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (14:13) - Devin Singletary finds the end zone with a 16-yard touchdown run. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 50 yards, 2:48
- 14-0 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (9:41) - Josh Allen connects with Stefon Diggs for an 11-yard touchdown pass. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 57 yards, 2:36
- 14-8 BUFFALO: Panthers touchdown (1:48) - Cam Newton keeps it and runs in a four-yard touchdown. (Carolina's two-point conversion attempt is successful)
Drive info: 3 plays, 37 yards, 0:57
- 17-8 BUFFALO: Bills field goal (0:00) - Tyler Bass' 26-yard field goal attempt is good.
Drive info: 11 plays, 63 yards, 1:48
- 24-8 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (5:52) - Josh Allen fires a 20-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 74 yards, 3:42
- 24-14 BUFFALO: Panthers touchdown (11:01) - Ameer Abdullah breaks free after a catch from Cam Newton, and scampers for a 23-yard touchdown. (Carolina's two-point conversion attempt failed)
Drive info: 4 plays, 43 yards, 1:22
- 31-14 BUFFALO: Bills touchdown (2:07) - Josh Allen tosses a 14-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. (Tyler Bass' extra point attempt is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 46 yards, 4:04
SKYWORKS EQUIPMENT RENTAL STATS OF THE GAME
The Bills will next head to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots the day after Christmas for an important contest that could help decide the AFC East. Kickoff next Sunday is set for 1 p.m. EST with John Murphy, Eric Wood and Sal Capaccio on the call of the action.