The Buffalo Bills’ 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon wasn’t the prettiest by any means, but coming off a bye, while trying to still fully move past the last-second loss to the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, the hard-fought victory over Los Angeles was much needed.
Sitting at 8-3 following a win over a young team with a rookie quarterback that has played great this season is certainly not a bad spot to be in. The three turnovers in the fourth quarter were definitely concerning, as was the completed Hail Mary that was eerily similar to DeAndre Hopkins' winning touchdown catch two weeks ago. Thankfully, that catch didn’t totally hurt the Bills this week.
There are positives to take away from this game, as well.
The run game seemed to finally come alive for Buffalo. The defense made big stops when needed. Tyler Bass was perfect again in the field goal kicking department. Andre Roberts had a few nice returns.
Relatively speaking, there was a lot of good in the ugly win. You could take as a good sign. It’s just a good football team finding a way to win once again.
Plus, the Bills were able to maintain their one-game lead on the Miami Dolphins for first place in the AFC East.
Here are three quick observations from the victory over the Chargers on Sunday:
1.) The Bills established a run game
Head coach Sean McDermott said last week the team would be taking a “deep dive” into the run game during the bye. The Buffalo rushing attack hasn’t been a bright spot of the offense for much of this season, but against Los Angeles, the Bills’ run game surpassed the passing game’s productivity.
Buffalo finished with 172 rushing yards as a team compared to just 160 net passing yards. There’s the old cliché of "good teams find multiple ways to win games," and the Bills did that on Sunday, finally using the run to move the chains, keep possessions alive, and take time off the clock when protecting the lead in the fourth quarter.
Here’s a fun stat: The Bills had three runs of over 20-plus yards against the Chargers (Singletary had runs for 21 and 24 yards, while Moss broke-off for a 31 yard rush). Before Sunday’s game, Buffalo had three runs of 20 yards or more all season.
With the receiving corps/passing attack missing John Brown, not only on Sunday but for at least the next two games due to injury, it should be reassuring to see the run game hit its stride and pick up this Buffalo offense.
2.) The Bills are comfortable (and good at) running trick plays
With Brown out, the Bills’ receiving corps, as a whole, had to step up on Sunday. However, did not think it was going to mean one receiver throwing a touchdown to another.
Gabriel Davis’ 20-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Cole Beasley in the second quarter of Sunday’s game was the second trick play that led to a score in as many weeks for the Bills.
This play will now join Isaiah McKenzie’s touchdown pass to Josh Allen from last game against Arizona, Brown’s touchdown pass to Allen in last year’s Wild Card playoff game against Houston and Brown’s passing score to Singletary in last year’s game in Dallas on Thanksgiving, on the list of recent, crazy trick plays pulled-off by the Bills.
The score came in a big spot in the game, and certainly gave the Bills a bit of momentum. Could offensive coordinator Brian Daboll be more inclined to keep running these kinds of plays every once in a while? It’s hard to think he’d pull one out every game, but if they keep working like this, you’d have to think the Bills will try and stick with it.
3.) Buffalo’s offensive line could not handle Joey Bosa
The Bills caught quite a break on Sunday not having to face both Joey Bosa and fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Melvin Ingram III, who was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week.
Bosa did enough damage on his own, finishing with eight total tackles (seven solo), six tackles for a loss, five quarterback hits, three sacks and a pass defended. Yes, Bosa is one of the elite names in football and could very well be the best defensive player in the league, but it was hard to not be impressed by all the havoc he caused throughout the afternoon.
The offensive line got a boost with Mitch Morse returning to the starting center spot. Having both Morse and Jon Feliciano on the line together should give the Bills a good veteran presence in the trenches over the final five games of the regular season. The group also should hang their hats on the fact they got the run game going Sunday, something they hadn’t in previous games.
However, this line needs to be better prepared for a pass-rusher of Bosa’s caliber. In a closer game against a better team, plays like the ones Bosa made against the Bills could have a larger impact than they did.