With 2017 in the books following a fairly surprising playoff berth, we look back at the season and our beloved Buffalo Bills. Every week is a story and we bring this to you through the lens of key plays that defined the game. Your Week 3 match-up:
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
With only two games under their belt, the Buffalo Bills new-look defense was already turning heads. An efficient offense combined with an opportunistic secondary to slam the door on the New York Jets in Week 1. The following week, an explosive pass rush and stingy back four made for a tight game in what would otherwise have been a blowout loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Denver Broncos came to New Era Field with a well-regarded defense expected to take advantage of a Buffalo offense coming off an embarrassing performance. But both teams came out evenly matched, trading points to go into halftime tied at 13. The second half looked to be more of the same until the Bills inched ahead in the middle of the third quarter. The team rallied as a whole, with both sides of the ball doing their part to pull out what was widely considered a major upset (at the time).
Stephen Hauschka Field Goal #2 (Q2, 0:01)
Before starting to pull away in the third quarter, the Bills managed to keep pace with the Broncos in large part thanks to Hauschka’s leg. Just minutes before this kick, he was asked to hit a 49-yard attempt (and did) to tie the game at ten. The Broncos responded with their own and as the second quarter closed, Hausch-money was called on to tie it again with a 55 yarder, which you can see was no problem. In the fourth quarter Hauschka hit from 53 and 27 to extend the Bills’ lead.
Charles Clay TD (Q3, 6:25)
The go-ahead touchdown to Charles Clay was Tyrod Taylor at his finest. With Denver selling out to stop the run on 1st and goal, Charles Clay slips away after blocking for what looks at first looks like a gimme score. Giving credit where credit is due though, it’s the legs of Taylor that allow the play to extend long enough for Clay to open up. And Clay’s understanding of the situation and quick reaction put him in perfect position to make this pass on the move a lot easier for his QB.
Deon Lacey’s tackle (Q3, 033)
Deon Lacey’s stat sheet on the day would come up nearly blank, with just this tackle to his credit. But stats never show the whole story and Lacey’s heads up play here shuts down an aggressive call by the Broncos. This stop gave the Bills the ball back in Hauschka’s field goal range. The team looked prepared for the fake the whole way and this play was an early season indicator of the detail-oriented approach of the new coaching staff.
Following the stop, the Bills played conservatively and actually lost a few yards to make the field goal attempt more interesting. With the fourth quarter starting, Lacey’s tackle all but assured the Bills would extend their lead and put pressure on Trevior Siemian to bring the Broncos back.
Tre’Davious White interception (Q4, 10:55)
The Broncos offensive line forgets about Eddie Yarbrough and Trevor Siemian is in immediate trouble. He tries to backpedal and buy some time, ultimately trying to throw the ball away to avoid the sack. Thanks to Yarbrough’s pressure, Siemian is forced to throw awkwardly and can’t get enough zip on the throw to put it out of bounds. Tre’Davious White is there to clean it up and prevents a likely score.
Following the go-ahead score from Buffalo in the third quarter, the Bills defense locked down everything Denver tried to throw at it. This interception paired with an earlier one from E.J. Gaines and other key stops to shut Denver’s offense down for almost the entire second half.
Kyle Williams sack (Q4, 2:37)
Down by 10 at this point, the Broncos needed a score and some luck to pull off a tie or win. Siemian had connected with Demaryius Thomas the play before for 29 yards and gave the Broncos a much needed jolt of energy. The Bills aren’t expecting anything from the run game, with Kyle Williams alone to lock down any rushing attempts to his side. Siemian see what he thinks is daylight, but Williams sheds a block and dives for a 3-yard sack, saving what likely would have been a good gain by Siemian. While the Broncos had three more chances at converting a first down, this play made their task monumentally harder. The Kyle Williams sack stalled any momentum Denver might have gained from the previous play and was a big reason Denver’s last chance of the day didn’t result in points.