Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Rams at Bills

A wild ride ends with a Bills win in Orchard Park
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In the most improbable of collapses, followed by an equally improbable comeback, the Buffalo Bills beat the Los Angeles Rams in a game that will be remembered for a long time and go down as an instant classic.

It looked for a while like I’d be starting with the Arrows pointing down, but ultimately, it’s Arrows Up for the third time to start this season:

ARROW UP:

Josh Allen

The Bills quarterback put up impressive numbers once again and had another fourth quarter comeback win. Allen finished 24-for-33 (72.7%) for 311 yards with four touchdown passes and one interception. He also ran for another touchdown, accounting for five total touchdowns on the day and giving him 10 passing touchdowns and 12 total touchdowns in only three games this season. Allen became the first Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly to throw for over 300 yards in three straight games.

Gabriel Davis

The rookie wide receiver has been impressive since the minute he showed up in training camp. He’s continued to be just that through the first three games. In this one, Davis had to play a lot more than maybe anticipated after John Brown went out with a calf injury, and he made plays again. Davis finished with four catches for 81 yards (a gaudy 20.3-yard average), including a sensational sideline grab when he was able to keep both feet in, somehow, as he was falling out of bounds.

Devin Singletary

With Zack Moss out, Singletary got the bulk of the work. He finished with 13 carries for 71 yards (a terrific 5.5-yard per-carry average) and added another 50 yards on four catches. But it was his open field running and ability to make Rams defenders miss tackles that really stood out. There were a few times he was caught for a loss or no gain, and not only made something out of it, but even huge gains to put the Bills in great position.

Cole Beasley

Beasley was money when Allen and the offense needed him most, catching several passes in key situations and finishing with six grabs for exactly 100 yards.

Levi Wallace bouncing back

The overall pass defense numbers for the Bills were not good, but Wallace was much-maligned by fans and media throughout the week for his game last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during the week that if Wallace wanted people to stop picking on him, he needed to make a play. He did just that in the early second quarter, picking off Rams quarterback Jared Goff. That interception led directly to a Bills touchdown. Wallace added nine total tackles in the win.

Corey Bojorquez

Bojorquez had only two punts ont he day. The first pinned the Rams at their own 13-yard line with a fair catch. The second went 72 yards(!) and pinned them at their own three-yard line

Tyler Bass

Bass didn’t have any field goal opportunities, but he did have five extra point attempts, and it turned out all of them were important. The rookie kicker drilled them all, despite a swirling wind at Bills Stadium. He also forced five touchbacks on six kickoffs.

Andre Roberts

The Bills didn’t have one drive start inside there own 25-yard line. Several were from touchbacks, but Roberts had two returns totaling 73 yards, an average of 36.5 yards per-return. He didn’t have any punt return chances.

Tyler Kroft

Filling in for the injured Dawson Knox, Kroft caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner, grabbing it with his fingertips and able to come down and secure it with only 15 seconds left.

Fourth down touchdown

With the Bills driving in a scoreless first quarter, they faced a goal-to-go situation. It was a wild sequence that saw two Allen touchdown passes get called back. One because it was actually incomplete and the other due to a penalty. Then, facing a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, instead of electing to kick the field goal, head coach Sean McDermott went for it and it paid off when Allen hit tight end Lee Smith for a touchdown. If McDermott had elected to kick the field goal instead, they most likely would not have been in position to win the game at the end.

3rd-and-22

In what may so far be the play of the year for the Bills, on the final drive down four points, they faced a 3rd-and-22 with less than four minutes to play. Allen stood in the pocket and let the play develop. Even as it was collapsing, he stepped up and drilled a dart to Cole Beasley, who grabbed it and turned upfield, just enough to get the first down. That’s what big-time players do in big-time situations.

Stefon Diggs touchdown on Jalen Ramsey

Ramsey didn’t cover Diggs all afternoon, but he did on 3rd-and-goal in the third quarter and Diggs ran a great route to catch a touchdown pass against him. Considering Ramsey’s past comments calling Allen “trash”, having that touchdown go specifically against him made it that much sweeter.

Red zone offense

The Bills came into the game only converting 50% of their red zone trips into touchdowns, tied for sixth-worst in the NFL. They were 5-for-5 on Sunday.

Matt Milano

On a rough day for the defense, Milano stood out in a positive way. He was all over the field, collecting eight total tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, two quarterback pressures, and a pass breakup.

A.J. Epenesa’s first career sack

The rookie defensive end chased down Goff and got him behind the line of scrimmage for his first career NFL sack. It was good to see after the second round pick was inactive in Week 1 and played sparingly in Week 2.

ARROW DOWN:

25-point lead given up

I’ve been following the Bills since I was a child and I’ve never seen them give up a lead like they did on Sunday. But it wasn’t just the lead given up, it was how quickly and easily it seemed to happen. The Bills led 28-3 with 8:05 left in the third quarter. They were in complete control. They had a west coast team dead and buried, ready to send them packing early and want to get back home. But they gave up a quick eight-play drive for a touchdown, got intercepted (albeit on a controversial call), then gave up an even quicker three-play touchdown drive, then went three-and-out. The Rams scored again and the lead had basically evaporated. It was stunning, especially for a McDermott coached team, a McDermott/Leslie Frazier coached defense, and an offense that could seemingly do whatever they wanted until things turned.

Run defense

There’s no way around it. The Bills run defense got gashed for most of the game, giving up 167 yards rushing and 5.2 yards per-carry. The Rams offensive line dominated them at the point of attack.

Defending Rams wide receivers

Coming into the game, there was big concern about the Rams tight ends beating the Bills after what Mike Gesicki of the Dolphins did last week. However, it was their inability to defend the wideouts that was much more of the issue. Tight ends only caught six passes for 74 yards, which the Bills defense can live with. But Rams receivers combined for 18 catches for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Far too much given up by a normally solid Bills secondary.

Third quarter… again

For the third straight week, the Bills’ worst quarter was the third quarter. This time, they actually came out of the locker room and scored on their first drive of the second half (their first thirrd quarter touchdown of the season), so it looked like things were going to change. After that, though, it was all Rams. Los Angeles outgained the Bills 183-64 in the third quarter and the Bills allowed a pair of touchdowns. Buffalo had one yard rushing in the third quarter.

Allen’s unsportsmanlike penalty

Allen was understandably frustrated at, what he thought should have been, a penalty against the Rams on a sack. When nothing was called, he said something he shouldn’t have to the official and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The passion by Allen is exactly what fans want to see, but the penalty cost his team another 15 yards on top of the lost fumble that occurred on the play. That gave the Rams their drive start at the Bills' 37-yard line.

Third down defense

The Rams faced 10 third downs in the game and converted six of them into first downs. That’s, of course, a 60% conversion rate. To give you a perspective on that number, the top-third down conversion team in the NFL this season going into Week 2 (Las Vegas Raiders) had converted about 57% of their third downs. The Rams were even better than that.

Offensive line in second half/defending Aaron Donald

The first half went smoothly for the Bills. They scored three touchdowns, had 199 yards of offense, and Allen wasn’t sacked at all. The second half was a much different story. They had trouble opening running lanes and there was far too much pressure on Allen. He was sacked four times and constantly avoiding pressure. Up until the final game-winning drive, the Bills had a total of 79 net yards in the entire second half.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was incredible in the second half. The Bills had no answer for him. After only registering two total tackles in the first half, Donald had four tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery just in the second half alone.

Officiating

The officiating was bad in this game. A pivotal call was allowing an interception to stand when Kroft seemed to clearly possess the ball when he hit the ground, but the Rams defender then took it away after. That was a huge turning point that sparked the Los Angeles comeback. It was also Allen’s first and only interception thrown this season.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports

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