Fueled by touchdowns from their backups and strong defensive performances, the Buffalo Bills defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 24-16 at New Era Field. While the Colts were resting starters Andrew Luck and Ryan Kelly, the Bills’ defense showed why they’re gunning for a top league ranking by forcing four three-and-outs on the first five drives.
Josh Allen had a mixed bag of a night. He finished 6/11 for 66 yards, and had a pass dropped by Zay Jones near the end zone that could’ve given him a touchdown. His offensive line kept him clean, but he did take one sack when a naked bootleg blew up and left an unblocked defensive end careening into him.
A doinked field goal held the starting offense scoreless in the first quarter. Cam Phillips, Senorise Perry, and Christian Wade scored touchdowns for the Bills, and rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin converted a field goal for the team.
It was a good debut for several rookies. No one had an A+ performance, but the disappointments were few and far between.
- Ed Oliver finished without a tackle on the stat sheet, but had a hurry against Jacoby Brissett. He faced a tough assignment against Quenton Nelson, but played it to a stalemate during their short match-up.
- Cody Ford faced the most difficult assignment, playing right guard with the first string then switching to right tackle to play with the backups. He gave ground on at least one play, but was overall part of a unit that kept Josh Allen clean through the first quarter.
- Devin Singletary sparked Buffalo’s running game in the second quarter, and finished with nine carries for 27 yards, three catches of three targets for 21 yards.
- Vosean Joseph played with the third string, but had a walloping tackle on a kickoff return.
- Jaquan Johnson led the team in tackles with seven solo tackles, one assist. He also had the hit of the night, knocking a Colts player to the ground along Buffalo’s sideline and drawing a slew of cheers from his teammates.
- Darryl Johnson may have had the most impressive night, relative to draft pedigree. He played with the second string, sacked backup Phillip Walker, and nearly had another sack. He also defended a pass.
- Tommy Sweeney started, and was the target of Josh Allen’s first pass of the night, unfortunately thrown too far down the seam.
- Undrafted linebacker Tyrel Dodson was among the team’s tackle leaders, playing with the third string.
- Undrafted quarterback Tyree Jackson had a couple beautiful throws, but his receivers dropped several passes, and his accuracy was very inconsistent over the course of the night.
- “Rookie” running back (and international rugby star) Christian Wade scored a 65-yard rushing touchdown on his first carry. It was a special moment to see him swarmed by teammates after that.
Both Zay Jones and Conor McDermott left the game at different points with possible head injuries. Both players were cleared to return to action, although in Jones’s case, it was after the starters were already finished for the night, so he didn’t return to the field.
MVP: The starting DL
Although Jerry Hughes was out, almost every player had expectations to measure up against: Trent Murphy coming back from injury, Shaq Lawson trying to earn a new contract, and (of course) first-round rookie Ed Oliver’s debut. No worries with this group. They held the Colts starters to 16 rushing yards on ten attempts, and hurried Jacoby Brissett on a couple plays.
LVP: Russell Bodine
With Mitch Morse out, a new light of importance is shining on the backup center position. Bodine, who was last year’s starting center, highlighted the wide gap between his talent and the talent of Spencer Long and Jon Feliciano (not to mention Morse). Bodine had a late snap that caused a false start. A high snap went behind Matt Barkley and caused one of Buffalo’s turnovers. Adding to that, his blocking wasn’t up to snuff.