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Buffalo Bills 40, Houston Texans 0: Rapid recap and notes

Abandon all hope, ye who challenge the Bills.

With a 17-point betting spread, the general public expected the Buffalo Bills to outclass the Houston Texans. The actual result was far more impressive than that, as the Bills ran up the score in a 40-0 smothering of the Texans.

The Bills shut out the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, but this defensive performance was even better. In the first half, they put out teaching tape for how to make a rookie quarterback suffer. The Texans started with a penalty, a fumble, and a three-and-out punt. Then came their only highlight of the game. Josh Allen dropped back on his first play, and threw a pass directly between two possible targets. It landed right into the hands of Lonnie Johnson for a pick, and put the Texans into the red zone.

The Bills’ defense, like it so often does, stepped up big-time in a clutch situation. They prevented the Texans from reaching a first down, and when Houston decided to keep the offense going on 4th & 2, Jerry Hughes was in perfect position to tip Davis Mills’s pass and force the turnover on downs.

With the skies absolutely pouring rain, the Bills tried using their ground game on the second drive. Zack Moss gained five yards on two carries, and Josh Allen’s throw was heaved way outside, forcing another punt.

The Texans started out on Buffalo’s side of the field for the second consecutive drive, but the defense stepped up again. Tremaine Edmunds landed his first turnover of the year, intercepting Mills and giving the ball back to Buffalo.

Allen’s arm settled down on the third drive, and he managed a few easy completions in the rain. With Devin Singletary and Zack Moss toting the rock, Buffalo built up some momentum. Then Allen used a pump fake to get a safety to bite on a short pass, and reset to Dawson Knox over the middle in a 25-yard touchdown to kick off the scoring.

The next few drives featured some inconsistent Bills offense and some incredible defense. The Texans went three-and-out three times, with sacks by Star Lotulelei and Boogie Basham. The Bills had two drives move downfield and sputter in the red zone, settling for field goals. A third ended on fourth down, short of the red zone.

Late in the half, the Texans took over on offense, but immediately gave the ball back to Buffalo. A.J. Klein tipped a pass, which Micah Hyde caught for the team’s second interception. The Bills, on the ensuing drive, drove all the way down to the Houston two-yard line, but couldn’t punch it in. They settled for one more field goal and a 16-0 halftime lead.

Coming out of the half, the field goal party continued. Unfortunately, Devin Singletary had a 41-yard run called back by penalty, but Josh Allen and Zack Moss made up the difference to bring the Bills back toward the end zone. Again, they were forced to settle for three points.

In Houston’s first drive out of the half, they did manage to notch a first down. That was the highlight, and they punted after six plays.

At this point, the stormy weather in Orchard Park ended up knocking out power at Highmark Stadium. Viewers at home missed a few plays as the broadcast switched to a studio announcing team. But the Bills didn’t miss a beat, driving 84 yards on 11 plays to score a touchdown and stretch to a 26-0 lead.

Another Houston drive, another defensive highlight. Two plays in, Cam Lewis punched the ball out of a receiver’s hand, and A.J. Klein recovered it for another turnover. It only took four plays for the Bills to score another touchdown, a tricky play that led to Dawson Knox catching his second TD of the day.

By the time there were 11 minutes left in the game, the Bills had begun their mass substitutions for the third week in a row. But even with backups in the game, the defense did not relent. Jaquan Johnson had a picture-perfect interception to kill another drive. Mitchell Trubisky led the offense down the field and ran in another touchdown, stretching the lead to 40-0. And one last Davis Mills pass bounced off the fingers of Pharaoh Brown, right into the arms of Tyler Matakevich to preserve the shutout.

The Bills are now 3-1, in the driver’s seat of the AFC once again, and ready for a titanic showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs next week.

Injury report

  • Matt Milano pulled his hamstring in the first half. A.J. Klein replaced him in the lineup today.
  • Special teamer Taiwan Jones headed in and out of the medical tent during today’s game.
  • Dion Dawkins went down on a play in the third quarter. He walked off the field to the sideline, and Spencer Brown moved over to left tackle to take his place. That brought Cody Ford back into the lineup. A play later, Dawkins returned to action.

Quick hits

  • Two Bills rookie milestones today—Spencer Brown had his first career start at right tackle, while Boogie Basham made his first game appearance, taking his first snap during the first quarter.
  • Not only did Basham debut, but he also notched his first career sack, bringing down Davis Mills early in the second quarter.
  • Don’t look now, but Dawson Knox has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. Has the Bills tight end turned the corner in his career?
  • With the two touchdowns he scored today, Knox now leads the team in receiving touchdowns.
  • Heads-up (hands-up) play by A.J. Klein, who leaped to tip a pass in the second quarter and knocked it off course. Micah Hyde was in perfect position to catch it, for his second interception of the year.
  • The Texans had a net passing yardage of -23 in the first half. That’s the lowest amount the Bills have allowed in a single half in franchise history.
  • Early Penalty Harm preview for you—Daryl Williams’s holding penalty wiped out a 41-yard run by Devin Singletary. Losing that gain, and another seven net yards, created enough harm on one play for half of a typical game by the Bills.
  • Today was a big day for Jaquan Johnson, with his first career start in relief of Jordan Poyer. He also landed his first career interception, helping to preserve the shutout in the fourth quarter.
  • Rookie Damar had his own defensive highlight, knocking a deep pass loose late in the fourth quarter to set up a 4th & 11.
  • Buffalo’s largest scoring margin in regular season franchise history was a 42-0 win over the Cleveland Browns in 1990. This win ends up as the second largest.
  • They also outgained the Texans by 343 yards. The only other time that happened in franchise history was a 48-17 win against the Houston Oilers in 1964.
  • The Bills took a very run-heavy script today what with all the rain and the scoring lead. They ran 40 times for 199 yards, while dropping back to pass 30 times and gaining 251 yards.
  • Stefon Diggs didn’t score a touchdown, but he did have a breakout day, with seven catches for 114 yards.
  • Perfect day for Tyler Bass, who was 4/4 on field goals and 4/4 on extra points, in spite of the driving rain.

Next week

A huge game is coming up—the Bills head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, who ended their playoff run last year. It’ll be on Sunday Night Football, with kickoff at 8:20 p.m. EDT. The Chiefs stumbled a bit out of the gate this season, and they’re 2-2 after winning against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. But they still have Patrick Mahomes, and they’re still deadly at home. A win would be a huge confidence booster for either team.