It is going to be difficult to not immediately look forward to a looming, huge divisional matchup against New England this weekend, but why not bask in the glow of the Bills' third win of the season a little longer? Here's what stood out to me from yesterday's victory.
No. 1: Let's start with the defense, because they carried Buffalo to this win. If there was any coach that was going to know how to play good situational football against the Lions, it was their former coach, Jim Schwartz. The result was one of the more impressive performances in recent memory in two key areas: defending the run (the Bills have yet to allow more than 86 rushing yards in a game this season), and especially on third downs. Detroit managed to convert just 1-of-11 third down tries. Those were the areas that Schwartz was brought in to improve for Buffalo's defense, and it came in very handy in a tight ballgame.
No. 2: It's time to appreciate the fact that Marcell Dareus has emerged as the Bills' best and most important defender. My opinion: it had happened before his three-sack outburst against the Lions, playing without the benefit of his partner in crime, Kyle Williams, lining up next to him. Already a dominant run defender, Dareus was the best defensive tackle on the field on Sunday - and making his day even more impressive was the fact that he played 57 out of 62 defensive snaps. It's rare for a defensive tackle to take such a high percentage of snaps and still be effective.
No. 3: Before we get too carried away by the defense, however, let's keep something critical in mind: the Bills have not yet seen any opponent at their best this season. Alshon Jeffery left the Week 1 win early, and Brandon Marshall was dinged up as well. Miami lost Knowshon Moreno after one carry in Week 2. San Diego was already down Ryan Mathews when Danny Woodhead went down two weeks ago, and in Week 4, Houston lost Andre Johnson in the second half. Yesterday, the Lions played most of the game without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Just something to keep in mind as we're heaping praise on this unit.
No. 4: On a day when the Bills could not get much out of their running game - aided by, arguably, the worst performance in the five-year pro career of C.J. Spiller - Fred Jackson just kept on keeping on. He carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards, caught seven passes for 58 more yards, and was spotted on the field late in the game, pass protecting for Kyle Orton, on a sprained ankle. To all Bills fans who insist on wearing jerseys to support their team: save yourself the embarrassment of the quarterback cycle and avoid the allure of first-round picks. Just buy a No. 22 shirt and identify yourself as a badass for the rest of your career as a Bills fan.
No. 5: The Bills, who were a bit healthier at receiver than they were a week ago, began experimenting with their third receiver spot, and there's a new face in the crowd. Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are still omnipresent on the field, but Mike Williams (26 snaps in Detroit) now appears to be fending off Marquise Goodwin (14 snaps) and even Chris Hogan (nine snaps) for playing time. That'll be something to monitor moving forward, as the Bills are looking for a consistent fourth target in the passing game behind Watkins, Woods, and Jackson.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.