The Buffalo Bills lost a wild game to the Minnesota Vikings, dropping an entertaining, frustrating, 33-30 decision in absurd fashion. For the second straight week, the Bills had a two-possession lead at halftime. For the second straight week, that lead evaporated through shoddy play after intermission.
The Bills need to do some soul-searching as they enter their seemingly annual midseason swoon. Our five—or more—players to watch in Week 10 all had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game, both positive and negative.
Here’s how those players to watch performed.
QB Josh Allen
The talk leading up to the game was “will he play or won’t he,” and after the game, the talk is about his decision making. Allen’s Dickensian tendencies have been front and center over the last few weeks, with his play ranging from the best of times to the worst of times, and often on a minute-to-minute basis. In the first half, Allen was spectacular, completing 14-of-18 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown to wide receiver Gabe Davis. He had three runs for 46 yards. Buffalo’s offense was cooking.
And then, in the second half, some untimely errors and lapses in execution derailed that train. Allen threw a fourth-down interception in the fourth quarter, though I can hardly blame him for trying to force the action on a throw to tight end Dawson Knox in the end zone. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was able to leave his man, since wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie had run out of bounds, thereby rendering him ineligible on the play. Then, after the defense made an epic fourth-down stop at the six-inch line to seemingly seal the game, Allen was unable to corral a snap from center Mitch Morse, fumbling away the lead with just under a minute in regulation. Allen led a clutch drive aided by a called catch that should have been overturned, and Tyler Bass sent the team to overtime.
After the defense once again came up huge at the goal line, holding Minnesota to a field goal, Allen marched the Bills into scoring position in just four plays. He scrambled twice for big yardage, barreling through linebackers and into Vikings territory. Two short passes to Stefon Diggs put the Bills in striking distance, and he nearly ended the game on a gorgeous throw to Knox. Sticky coverage prevented the completion, and Allen rifled a ball right into the waiting arms of Peterson on the next throw to end the game. Watching it live, it looked like Allen made an atrocious, arrogant decision to force a bad throw into a non-existent window; however, after analyzing that last play like the Zapruder film for the better part of the last 24 hours, it seems more likely that it was a good decision and a horrendous throw. This angle shows that, had Allen thrown the ball to the goal post, it’s in a place where either Davis makes the catch, or it’s an incomplete pass. Instead, it was a game-ending interception. Allen finished 29-of-43 for 330 yards, with one touchdown, two interceptions, six carries, 84 rushing yards, and one lost fumble on the day.
RB Devin Singletary
In the first half, it looked like this one was going to be known as “the Devin Singletary game,” as Motor carried the rock nine times for 41 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TDs was a one-yard plunge to tie the game at seven, and the second was a five-yard scamper to give the Bills a lead they wouldn’t relinquish until the Allen fumble late in the fourth quarter. But then, the Vikings adjusted, and Singletary carried it four times for just six yards in the second half and overtime. What makes this frustrating is that the Bills were ahead for the entire second half, yet their top running back, who was successful in the first half, touched the ball just four times after halftime. One of those touches that doesn’t count as a carry was a nine-yard rush that was negated by a Spencer Brown holding penalty. His final carry of the day went for no gain. It was the first play of the fourth quarter. It’s one thing to trust the superhuman at quarterback, but it’s another thing entirely to eschew sound game management, and a part of the offense that was working, in a game that the Bills absolutely had to have.
WR Stefon Diggs
Somehow, Diggs made only the second-most impressive catch of the day when he leapt way up to snare a third-down pass with just one hand to extend a drive in the third quarter. He saw a game-high 16 targets, hauling in a game-high 12 passes for a team-leading 128 yards receiving. He was absolutely electric all day long, and no matter what the Vikings did, they could not cover him. He even played defensive back on one play, breaking up a near-interception off a tipped ball while he was twirling in the air. Diggs is having a ridiculous season, and this game against his former team was no exception. He should have had a win against them to go with it.
DE Boogie Basham
I hit on the prediction here! Too bad I don’t gamble. I thought that Basham would notch a sack and play around 35% of the snaps in an increased role with Greg Rousseau out due to an ankle injury. Basham played 30% of the snaps, but he did notch his second sack of the season, taking down quarterback Kirk Cousins for the first of two sacks on what was their final drive of regulation. Unfortunately , rather than those sacks preceding a discussion about Buffalo making a stop on 4th & 18, they just led to a ridiculously great play by a ridiculously great player. Basham had two tackles to go with that sack.
Can we really be mad at a hodgepodge, rag-tag group of young players doing the best they can against one of the NFL’s best wideouts in Justin Jefferson? Sure we can, but it doesn’t mean that they were the reason the Bills lost the game. Tre’Davious White was inactive again, and head coach Sean McDermott would not provide any further insight into his status in his Monday media availability. Kaiir Elam didn’t play due to his injured ankle. Christian Benford and Dane Jackson each managed to secure an interception, but each was beaten soundly at points by Jefferson. Veteran Xavier Rhodes, called up from the practice squad, was the only person other than backup quarterback Case Keenum to log a DNP in the game. Sometimes, great players make great plays, and a wideout like Jefferson is trouble even for the best corners in the game. Buffalo’s secondary did all it could do to hold him down.