The Buffalo Bills, in their franchise history, had never finished a preseason with a 4-0 record. For the second year in a row, we’re rewriting a lede and an article, as the Bills found more preseason magic for a crazy fourth-quarter comeback over the Minnesota Vikings. The Bills turned a 23-6 deficit into a 27-23 win, courtesy of 21 fourth-quarter points.
For three quarters, the Bills’ backups looked listless. The Vikings ran twice as many plays from scrimmage as the Bills in that span, with Buffalo’s offense failing to sustain drives and the defense failing to put away Minnesota. Late in the game, however, everything changed. Ray Ray McCloud III injected some life into the Bills with a 29-yard catch-and-run with less than five minutes to go, leading to a haphazard touchdown—Tyree Jackson leaped into the end zone, fumbled the ball, and Victor Bolden landed on it for the score. (The official call would later award the touchdown to Jackson.)
The Bills defense finally stepped up and forced a punt—only the second Vikings punt of the night—and Marcus Murphy uncorked a beautiful, 79-yard punt return touchdown to put the Bills within three. Buffalo’s defense, deprived of timeouts, nevertheless held strong and forced a three-and-out.
On the ensuing drive, with a minute to play, Tyree Jackson finally found room to work. He scrambled out of bounds for a 15-yard gain, and two plays later, delivered a screen that Nick Easley took 30 yards, nearly to paydirt. A roughing-the-passer penalty put the Bills on the six-yard line. After an incompletion and a pass that lost two yards, Jackson took the snap, stepped up in the pocket, and unleashed a cannon blast to David Sills V running across the end zone. Sills cradled the pass against his chest, finishing the comeback.
The Vikings had eight seconds remaining, but Siran Neal intercepted the Hail Mary pass to seal Buffalo’s win.
Outside of the fourth-quarter explosion, there weren’t many standouts to mention from this game, but Eddie Yarbrough had an outstanding day. Stephen Hauschka and rookie Chase McLaughlin both successfully kicked 54-yard field goals in this one.
- Hot off the presses, Mitch Morse is cleared of the concussion protocol. He’ll start when the Bills battle the New York Jets Week 1.
- Speaking with the announcing crew, Bills general manager Brandon Beane suggested that Tyler Kroft’s injury recovery may have progressed to the point that he wouldn’t need to start the season on the PUP list.
- Rookie linebacker Tyrel Dodson was injured in the first quarter, but returned to the game and played through the finish.
- Rookie linebacker Vosean Joseph was injured at the end of the third quarter, but returned to the field shortly thereafter. He did, however, head to the locker room in the closing minutes of the game.
- Defensive tackle Kyle Peko appeared to injure his wrist late in the game, but he returned to the game and helped kill a Vikings drive to keep Buffalo’s comeback hopes alive.
- Minnesota dominated time of possession in this one. They ran nearly twice as many plays from scrimmage as the Bills.
- In case you missed it, the Bills traded Wyatt Teller to the Cleveland Browns today.
- Cornerback Lafayette Pitts snagged an interception in the first half—a splash play that definitely helps his chances for the roster.
- Undrafted rookie linebacker Tyrel Dodson laid a major blow on the quarterback in the first half, appearing to cause a fumble that the Bills returned 40 yards. Unfortunately, the tuck rule applied.
- Eddie Yarbrough was Buffalo’s MVP tonight. Playing mainly in the first half, the defensive end contributed ten tackles (seven solo) with two of those tackles leading to a loss of yardage.
- Corey Bojorquez was his usual inconsistent self. His first kick was a 25-yard shank, and he overshot a 40-yard punt into the end zone, but he also launched a 66-yard punt that nestled inside the five-yard line.
- The Bills used Robert Foster on plenty of special-teams reps tonight, and he had an outstanding tackle as the punt gunner.
- Tyree Jackson’s most effective plays were when he ran the ball, even if he did score the team’s winning touchdown. He misread the protection in the fourth quarter, which turned into a strip sack that ended Buffalo’s chances for a comeback. He’s still a major work in progress.
- Christian Wade Watch: Five carries for 15 yards, three catches for seven yards.