We all saw that coming right?
Even the most optimistic Buffalo Bills fan couldn’t have predicted the 27-6 outcome—a final that wasn’t even as close as the score suggests.
With such a dominating performance, there are a lot of players (and coaches) who saw their stock rise, while one prominent player continued to befuddle. Who fell into which category? Read on to find out.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
For the first six quarters of the 2018 season, Leslie Frazier’s defense was simply steamrolled by the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers. In the second half of the Chargers game, head coach Sean McDermott took over play-calling duties and the defense started to look like the unit we all thought it would be heading into the season.
Entering this week’s matchup against the Vikings, there was no guarantee that Frazier would get the play sheet back, but he did and his effort earned him the game ball from the head man.
Frazier called a perfect game, confusing Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, not allowing him to get comfortable. Buffalo only allowed 14 rushing yards and a meaningless score with less than 3 minutes left. Frazier redeemed himself indeed.
QB Josh Allen
Was there even a question the Wyoming product would be in this category? Allen commanded the field masterfully and displayed all facets of his game. While No. 17’s arm gets most of the attention, his legs stole the show in Minneapolis. Allen started the game with a diving 10-yard TD scamper and provided the highlight of the day when he hurdled Pro Bowl LB Anthony Barr on a big third-down conversion. For good measure, he tacked on another scoring plunge, using his massive frame to extend the ball over the goal line on a 4th-down gamble.
While his passing numbers look mediocre if one just glances at the box score, Allen converted multiple third downs, and would have easily had another 45-60 yards if receivers (ahem, Kelvin Benjamin) would hold on to the ball.
LB Matt Milano
Milano showed why he is such a tantalizing player. Milano had a fumble recovery, sack, interception, 8 tackles and two passes defensed. Quite the stat stuffer. The second-year ‘backer seemed to be playing instinctively this week, as opposed to reactionary, and his athleticism allowed him to make several game-changing plays. Edmunds and Milano should be scaring offensive coordinators, especially considering how young they are.
DE Jerry Hughes
This was the Jerry Hughes Bills fans had been waiting to see for the past few years. While Hughes has been doing the little things right (like providing strong play against the run), the splash plays and pressure had been lacking the past few years.
That wasn’t the case against the Vikings.
Hughes may have only had one sack, but that sack resulted in a fumble recovery that set the Bills up deep in Vikings territory. In addition to the sack, Hughes made Cousins uncomfortable all game long, owning left tackle Reilly Reiff. His pressure allowed Kyle Williams to sack Cousins and forced the QB to make hurried throws. Simply put, Hughes played like he had something to prove—and prove it he did.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
Something about Benjamin just rubs me wrong. For a guy who is supposed to win contested balls with his big frame, too many times so far this year, Benjamin can’t complete the catch. While it proved inconsequential, Benjamin dropped a third down pass that would have set up a first and goal at the 1-yard line, something that could have cost the Bills the game if it were close.
There was also his blow-up on the sideline during the game, with Buffalo comfortably in control. As Beane and McDermott have shown over the course of one-plus seasons, the attitude combined with lackluster on-field results could see the Florida State product on the outs sooner than later.