The Buffalo Bills traveled to
Wisconsin Minneapolis on Sunday and were involved in an unexpected lopsided affair with the Minnesota Vikings. True, most people expected things would be lopsided Sunday. The unexpected portion, however, was that Buffalo laid the wood to Minnesota, dominating in every facet of the game on their way to an impressive 27-6 victory over the Vikings.
What could go wrong for Buffalo in a matchup against a team thought to be a Super Bowl contender? Nothing at all, at least on Sunday. The Bills were able to shut down Minnesota’s offensive weapons, and they also controlled the tempo and the ball on their way to steamrolling Minnesota’s highly-touted defense.
Here is a look at how the Bills fared against the five Vikings we were watching this weekend.
QB Kirk Cousins
The Bills took Cousins out of his rhythm right from the jump. On Minnesota’s first two possessions, Cousins was forced into third-and-long situations. On each of those third down plays, he fumbled. First, it was Trent Murphy hitting Cousins to force a fumble that Lorenzo Alexander recovered. Then, it was Jerry Hughes coming around the edge to strip Cousins. That fumble was recovered by Matt Milano. Overall, Cousins completed 40-of-55 passing attempts for 296 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. He was sacked four times, and the Bills hit him five more times. It was not a banner day for Cousins.
RB Latavius Murray
While game situation certainly played a part in the Vikings’ offensive playcalling, it’s pretty shocking how little the team tried to run the football. Minnesota attempted six rushes on the entire day, and 2 of those were Cousins scrambles. Murray handled 2 carries, totaling 1 yard. He also made 5 catches for 30 yards. Even when the team was trailing, attempting to establish any semblance of a running game may have stemmed the tide early on. Yes, Buffalo had 17 points in the first quarter, but with 45 minutes of football left to play, abandoning the run entirely just isn’t sound strategy. Murray was a total non-factor in the game.
WR Stefon Diggs
Minnesota’s talented receivers were thought to be a challenge for Buffalo, but we had confidence that Tre’Davious White could lock down whichever receiver he was assigned to guard. That turned out to be Diggs on Sunday, as Minnesota’s wideout was forced to wear White like a Snuggie all afternoon. Diggs made 4 catches for just 17 yards, and he had no opportunities to break free or use his speed to burn the Bills deep. If we needed any other reminders as to how good White is, this game should serve as yet another clue—he is one of the best in the business.
DE Danielle Hunter
Hunter kept on his season’s pace, adding 5 tackles and 1 sack to his 2018 ledger. Overall, the 23-year old has 13 tackles and 3 sacks, having notched a quarterback takedown in each game thus far in 2018. The Bills were able to neutralize Minnesota’s pass rush, for the most part, and when there were free rushers, quarterback Josh Allen used his mobility to escape. Hunter was a bright spot in the game for the Vikings.
S Harrison Smith
Minnesota’s excellent secondary looked pedestrian on Sunday, allowing Allen to throw for 196 yards and 1 touchdown on the day. The touchdown was caused by a broken coverage, as the Bills ran some motion in the backfield to set up what looked like a screen play. However, tight end Jason Croom leaked up the sideline after pretending he was going to block, and no one in Minnesota’s secondary was anywhere near him when he caught the pass. The motion fooled everyone, including the veteran Smith, who could have served as the last line of defense on the play had he not bitten on the screen action. Smith had 5 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 quarterback hit on the afternoon.