The Buffalo Bills welcomed the Las Vegas Raiders to sunny Highmark Stadium for the team’s 2023 home opener. In doing so, the Bills’ intent was to force the Raiders to walk the plank. To open the game, it appeared as though Buffalo could be in for a rough day, allowing an opening-drive touchdown to Las Vegas, then following that up with a three-and-out and punt that was far more momentous than it should have been, thanks to a failed block by Buffalo’s special teams unit.
Fortunately, the Bills didn’t need to punt again, and the Raiders’ never bested upon their opening drive. Both facts led to an overwhelming victory in favor of Buffalo, and Bills Mafia were happy to oblige the gift.
Following a frustrating loss six days ago to the New York Jets, the Bills made a point to focus on those areas where the team struggled in MetLife Stadium. For at least one week, the offense rolled out an efficiently patients attack, featuring a heavy dose of play-action passes and a multi-headed running attack.
Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was ready to reset things for quarterback Josh Allen and the offense, and boy did he deliver. Dorsey called a fantastic game that involved nine receivers and five rushers. Calls for Dorsey’s job feel premature at best.
A huge reason for Buffalo’s success was due to the standout play of its entire offensive line. Quarterback Josh Allen finished 31-of37 for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He added three rushed for seven yards and still tried to hurdle dudes — because that’s what Josh Allen does, and it’s amazing.
Wide receiver Gabe Davis was a handful for the Raiders in grabbing six receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Stefon Diggs was his usual HIM self, seeing the same number of targets as Davis (7), catching all for 66 yards. Khalil Shakir turned his only reception, a red zone target, into a nifty touchdown. Tight end Dawson Knox only managed three catches for 10 yards, but hauled in a key touchdown. Tight end Dalton Kincaid continues to progress as a pro, and he looks the part whatever that role asks of him. Kincaid finished with five catches for 43 yards.
The running backs came to play in a big way. James Cook tallied his first 100-yard rushing game in the NFL, finishing with 17 carries for 123 yards (7.2 yards per carry), plus four catches for four yards. Damien Harris carried it seven times for 33 yards and his first touchdown with the team. Latavius Murray rushed six times for 22 yards and his first touchdown with the Bills, while adding two receptions for nine yards. This trio could give teams fits this season.
Speaking of running games, Buffalo’s defensive line played lights out against Vegas’ rushing attack. Running back Josh Jacobs was held to nine carries for -2 yards. That’s a new career low for Jacobs. He did make up for things in the passing game, making five receptions for 51 yards — but Jacobs was held without a touchdown on the day. The defensive line gave quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo trouble all afternoon, forcing him to throw two picks while forcing off-target throws during much of the game.
Linebacker Matt Milano is also HIM. He continues to play incredible football, and pulled in his second interception on the season in as many weeks. But there’s another linebacker to note who grabbed his first NFL interception: Terrel Bernard.
Holy time of possession, Batman! The Bills were methodical on offense, especially in the second half. After receiving the second-half kick, Buffalo marched slowly down the field, eating up 9:01 on the clock en route to a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Las Vegas countered with a turnover on the next drive. Overall, the Bills held the ball for 40:04, while the Raiders managed only 19:56 of time on offense.