Written by Bobby Greco
The Buffalo Bills won their first Monday Night Football game this century when they beat the 49ers and they did it in dominating fashion. In a game, I like to refer to as the Swami Bowl (Shout out to Chris Berman), the Bills offense came out fast and never took their foot off the gas. It also was their most complete game as a team, with the defense playing a strong game too and only having to punt one time. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll called his best game with the Bills, only having one questionable play call. The one thing that impressed me most and will probably be a forgotten piece of the game, is the way Buffalo responded after the wild first quarter. That is something in the past that would have killed all of Buffalo’s momentum and probably cost them the game. So to say that was refreshing to see, would be a huge understatement.
Offensively, this was almost a perfect game for the Bills. Allen was locked in from play number one and picked apart San Francisco’s defense. They drove the field with ease on the opening drive, so going for it on 4th and goal at the 1-yard line was the right call. What I do have a problem with was the play call, you cannot run a play-action pass and have Lee Smith as your primary receiver. Outside of that play, Daboll called a fantastic game. I think the Bills saw on the opening drive that they would be able to throw all over the Niners defense and they really took advantage of it. The first drive alone gave Allen over 75 yards and Beasley over 50. Speaking of Cole Beasley, he needs to get some appreciation. He had a career night setting a career-high in yards with 130 on 9 catches, 114 of which came in the first half. I also don’t think it’s a stretch to say Beasley has been the best and most consistent slot receiver in the league this year. He has had a very surprising amount of “toe drag swag” this season and seems like he makes a highlight-reel catch every game. Diggs was his usual clutch and consistent self, but rookie Gabe Davis has taken big strides the past two games. Davis has seen an expanded role with John Brown on IR and he has not disappointed, catching a touchdown in consecutive games. The Bills realized early that they weren’t going to need the game, yet I still think Devin Singletary played very well. He was reliable whenever the team needed him and ended up having a couple of really important plays, extending multiple drives. One thing that really stuck out to me, was the play of the O-Line. The Bills showed how much depth they had because they were able to rotate guys in and out and didn’t have a drop off in play. If the offense keeps playing like this, the Bills are going to be a true contender and will be a very difficult out for any opponent.
Defensively this was the Bills best performance of the season, it was also the first time in weeks the entire defense was healthy. San Francisco may have scored 24 points, but two of their touchdowns came in garbage time and at that point, the Bills were playing conservative defense. Coming into the game, the 49ers had one of the top rushing attacks and it was something 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan thought they would be able to take advantage of because Buffalo has struggled with run D this year. Thankfully Buffalo was up to the challenge because they really shut down the San Fran offense. I know it was Nick Mullins at quarterback and not Jimmy G, but Buffalo still locked down the entire offense. I think the goal-line stand on the first drive really got the ball rolling for them and gave them the energy and momentum that carried them through the whole game. The D-Line didn’t have a sack, but they made Mullins uncomfortable all night. I have to give a lot of credit to Coach McDermott and D Coordinator Leslie Frazier because I think they made stopping the run the key to the game. It seemed like the line was slow playing the pass rush, to make sure they were in a position to take on a runner. Though this isn’t the way to success every game, I truly feel putting the game on Mullen's shoulders was hugely detrimental to the 49ers offense and was a brilliant play by Buffalo. I think there were three players who took over the game who had phenomenal performances, LB Tremain Edmunds and Safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Edmunds made some huge tackles throughout the game, especially on the goal-line stand. While Hyde and Poyer proved once again why they are the best safety tandem in the NFL. Not only did they have the middle of the field locked down in the pass game, but they are both great vs the run too. They combined for a great tackle saving a touchdown on the opening drive and it was a Kyle Juszczyk carry. Overall I was very pleased with what I saw and am hoping they finally found their footing, which will be great down the stretch.
Next is a real test, as the Bills take on an 11-1 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Pittsburgh has one of the top receiving corps in the league, so the secondary will need to be ready. They also have arguably the best defensive line, so it will be a good test all around. Not to mention that they are coming off their first loss of the season and will probably be pretty angry about it, so Buffalo better be ready for a fight.