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Revisiting five Buffalo Bills to watch vs. the Las Vegas Raiders

It was a banner day for the boys in blue

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills allowed a first-drive touchdown to the Las Vegas Raiders, providing little resistance to their opponents — and little hope to fans looking for signs of a quick turnaround after an opening-week loss. The bad taste left by that drive, however, was quickly washed away, as the Bills put together a clinic from there on, leading to a 38-10 rout of the Raiders.

Buffalo executed in all three phases of the game, looking every bit the part of the AFC favorite we expected them to be. With so many great performances, it’s hard to find a player who played poorly in the game. Our five players to watch, in particular, were all excellent.

Here’s how our list looked this week.

QB Josh Allen

It certainly wasn’t the flashiest version of Allen, nor was it the swashbuckling, daring downfield passer we’ve come to know and love. What it was instead was something that, if it makes repeat appearances, should be absolutely terrifying to opposing defenses. This was a version of Allen that forced nothing, took everything the defense gave him, and dinked and dunked his way to a 31-for-37, 274-yard, three-touchdown outing. While it was happening, it looked to be incredibly “ho hum” at times. When it was over, though, it was clear that the performance was really a masterpiece. Allen was poised, and he trusted his reads all afternoon long. Of all the great plays and throws that he made — and there were many, including his second touchdown pass, an 11-yard strike to Khalil Shakir — my favorite play was a pretty nondescript completion early in the third quarter. On first down right around midfield, the Bills clearly had a shot play dialed up. Both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis ran deep, and Allen looked for a bit as if he was going to uncork one of those signature long balls. Instead, he read the coverage, realized he had nothing, and took a short completion to Dalton Kincaid on the right side. The rookie gained eight yards, keeping the Bills right on schedule. Rather than an incompletion and a 2nd & 10, or worse, an interception, the Bills had 2nd & 2. That’s the kind of quarterbacking that’s going to take Buffalo far. Those deep shots will be there. Allen doesn’t need to force the issue. When he lets the game come to him, there aren’t many people who are better than him (and, truthfully, I’d go as far as to say there’s only one person in the league better than Allen is when he plays this way). This was a great performance.

RT Spencer Brown

Speaking of great performances... how good was the big guy on Sunday?! He’s been absolutely dragged, and rightfully so, in most corners of Bills fandom for poor play since last year. But on Sunday, Spencer Brown was a shutdown tackle. He kept stud pass rusher Maxx Crosby in check, as the Raiders’ top sack man managed just two pressures and no sacks on the afternoon. Sure, it wasn’t as if Brown dealt with Crosby all by himself, but he was the first man up, and he had a great game plan. I’ll let him tell you what it was, but it definitely was a plan that worked this week. It’s not going to be any easier next week against the Washington Commanders, either, with Chase Young on tap. If Brown can build on this, though, look out.

DE Leonard Floyd

The negatives here are twofold, as the Bills failed to register a sack against quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and Floyd left the game with an ankle injury suffered in the second half. He said after the contest that he’ll be good to go against Washington, but head coach Sean McDermott labeled him “day-to-day” in his Monday press conference. That designation is McDermott’s go-to, though, so I’m not too worried just yet. The positive for Buffalo’s defensive line is that they absolutely manhandled the Raiders in the running game, holding last year’s rushing leader, Josh Jacobs, to -2 yards on nine carries. The Raiders totaled just 55 yards on 20 carries, and 34 of those yards came on an end-around on the first drive of the game. Floyd had just two tackles on his 16 defensive snaps, which accounted for 40% of the team’s defensive total because Buffalo dominated time of possession so thoroughly.

LB Terrel Bernard

Speaking of guys who played well, Bernard was really, really good in his second start of the season. The hesitation that plagued him early in the Monday night loss to the New York Jets was non-existent, and he did a great job exploding to the gaps that his defensive tackles created for him. Speaking of those guy, shout out to Ed Oliver, who absolutely dominated old friend Greg Van Roten, and DaQuan Jones up front, as the big boys ate up blockers, space, and gaps so that the guys behind them could make plays. Bernard made the first big play of the game for the Bills, as he snared a tipped pass for his first career interception in the first quarter. That pick set the Bills up at the Raiders’ 28-yard line, and Latavius Murray capitalized with a four-yard touchdown run seven plays later. The Bills never looked back. Bernard led the Bills in tackles for the second straight week, this time notching six.

S Taylor Rapp

Well, Rapp was not the answer to the question of whom the Bills would use to replace slot corner Taron Johnson in run-heavy sets this week. Instead, Buffalo ran some traditional 4-3 looks at times, using Tyrel Dodson as an extra linebacker for some plays. Dodson saw eight defensive snaps, which was two more than Rapp played this week. The safety was flagged for a personal foul when he leveled wideout Davante Adams late in the game. He had one tackle, and he also recovered a fumble forced by cornerback Dane Jackson to keep the Raiders off the board late in the fourth quarter.