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Takeaways: Bills nearly pull off stirring comeback in Tampa

The Buffalo Bills almost pulled off an impressive comeback today, showing their big boy pants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They ultimately lost so it won’t matter in the standings, but it showed up on the field today.

Let. Josh. Cook.

The Bills were getting blown out, but Josh Allen put the team on his back down the stretch. His legs and his arm brought Buffalo back from a 21-point deficit to make it a 27-24 game with 4:53 left in the fourth and to ultimately tie it at the end of regulation. Even after he had his ankle taped up and he was limping, Allen was able to convert third downs and move the ball down the field. They called runs and passes for him after the injury, too. His back and ankle are both going to hurt tomorrow. He became the fourth player in NFL history with 300+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards in an NFL game. And they relied on him in the first half way too much, too. Which reminds me...

No RB carries in first half

For the first time since 1991, no running back rushed the ball for an NFL team. The Bills heard the call that they were focusing too much on the run over the last few weeks and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was given the reigns. He chose not to use his running backs against Tampa Bay in the first half. Josh Allen had 43 yards rushing on four runs and that was it. The first RB carry came on the fake punt in the second half...of course.

Embarrassing run defense again

The Bills’ defense allowed another long touchdown run. Stop me if you heard this before. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer bristled at the postgame press conference last week being called “embarrassing,” but Leonard Fournette ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on Sunday. Something is clearly not working on Buffalo’s run defense and you can say it’s a lack of execution, but that’s three “one-off” times this year PLUS a crushing loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It’s officially a problem with the Bills’ run defense and not a fluke, but maybe Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde don’t need to face the media about it. Tampa only rushed the ball for 137 yards, but you have to wonder why they went away from the run so early. They were averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

PTSD

I don’t mean to make light of folks actually suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but I said “the Patriots” so many times during this game instead of “the Bucs.” Tom Brady is the QB here and I just kept discussing the inevitability of this game. Every time Tampa Bay got the ball, it felt like they were going to score and Buffalo’s defense wilted over and over again. It wouldn’t be a big deal unless you think about actually getting to the Super Bowl and playing Brady’s team.

Spencer Brown’s NFL baptism

The third-round rookie has had a pretty good first season so far but against Tampa Bay’s front four, he looked like a rookie. Brown chose to pinch inside on a third down in the first quarter when the cornerback blitzed and Josh Allen was sacked by that CB rushing outside unabated. Allen was also sacked on a second down later in the first when Brown was beaten cleanly on his block. He allowed the pressure on Allen’s interception late in the second quarter.

On Allen’s fourth-down run in the third quarter, Brown had the lead block but it was too little, too late. He didn’t even have a guy to block on Josh Allen’s TD run, but he led him down the field.

Fortitude

The Bills hadn’t shown this all season, but they came back from a big deficit against a tough opponent on Sunday night. It’s the first time we’re seen that kind of intestinal fortitude this season. They ultimately fell short, but it’s still a good sign. I’m not counting them out in the playoff race anymore.