With the 2018 NFL season in the books, 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 1 match-up:
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
It was finally here! The NFL regular season. With the quarterback of the future acquired in the draft and exciting new faces in the building, things were looking up for the Buffalo Bills. Sean McDermott’s rookie year as head coach had led the Bills to their first playoff berth in nearly two decades. Looking to build off this success, the season opened with a sense of wonder.
First up; the Baltimore Ravens. The team Buffalo narrowly edged out for the final playoff slot the year before was a poetic beginning to a new year. Until the game actually started. The Ravens put a beat-down on the Bills to the tune of 47-3. Along the way, the Bills stirred up a quarterback argument that still rages on today. Fans were reminded that pain is part of the process in spectacularly brutal fashion.
Opening kickoff (Q1, 15:00)
This is the play of the game for the Buffalo Bills. I wish I didn’t have a solid argument for that statement. Stephen Hauschka’s kick to start the game was brought out of the end zone by Janarion Grant who was marked down at the 20. This “five yards better than if he had downed it” scenario is one of few objectively positive outcomes of the game. This also represents literally the entire time the Bills were arguably in control of the game. The Ravens marched down the field and scored a touchdown with 8:49 left in the first quarter. It was the winning score.
Nathan Peterman’s first pass of the day (Q1, 8:16)
When you’re defining a game like this one, unfortunately the narrative steers away from highlights. This incomplete pass is all too emblematic of the day. The Bills finished the game with 98 passing yards despite throwing the ball 33 times. A 33% completion rate and just under three yards per attempt are statistics that are painful to calculate. Any incompletion would have sufficed, but Nathan Peterman’s first throw of the game was selected to juxtapose with a play we’ll look at in a moment.
Tremaine Edmunds’s first NFL sack (Q2, 11:58)
There’s no way to go a full 60 minutes of game time without at least a few things going right. While this game was nearly irredeemable, let’s take the time to celebrate one notable milestone. Tremaine Edmunds stays disciplined and takes down a scrambling Flacco. It’s right on the fence between sack and tackle, but we go with the official NFL log and give the rookie his credit.
Nathan Peterman’s second interception (Q3, 11:39)
It’s not my intent to pile on Nathan Peterman, but there’s no way of avoiding how this shaped the story of the game. Before this throw, Peterman was 5-for-17 for 24 yards and one interception. In comparison, Lamar Jackson ended the game with four pass attempts and matched Peterman’s yardage output. Back to this throw, Kelvin Benjamin arguably should have bailed his quarterback out. Regardless, this was the death knell for the Peterman era. While it was a slower death than many hoped for (including starting again), this was the final straw. With his performance against Baltimore, Peterman earned a 0.0 passer rating.
The Josh Allen Era begins! (Q3, 10:54)
Josh Allen throws his first regular-season NFL pass! Here’s our juxtaposition mentioned above. Both Allen’s and Peterman’s first passes fell incomplete, but they seem like night and day. Allen’s pass found the same zip code as his intended receiver and may have even been caught if it weren’t for some contact by the defender. This was an incompletion that had promise! It was sooner than anticipated, but the Allen era was on in Western New York.
Josh Allen’s final pass of the game (Q4, 0:11)
This is perhaps my favorite play from the game. The execution is lacking. And ultimately it had zero bearing on the outcome of the game. What stands out is that with 11 seconds to go and down by 44 points, the Bills let Allen throw it downfield. For a team that had repeatedly played incredibly conservative football on offense in 2017, the decision to allow Allen to practice more aggressive calls was refreshing.
Which play best defines the Bills game in Baltimore?
This poll is closed
Peterman’s first throw
Edmunds’s first sack
Peterman’s second INT
The Josh Allen Era begins
Allen let’s fly the final pass