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Bills 37, Commanders 3: Three things we learned

Buffalo’s defense dominates as the Bills improve to 2-1 heading into October

Buffalo Bills v Washington Commanders Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have rebounded nicely from their crushing Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, outscoring two inferior opponents 75-13 in the last two weeks en route to two straight wins heading into October. That includes this afternoon’s 37-3 drubbing of the Washington Commanders on the road, an effort spearheaded by Buffalo’s suffocating defense.

Now, the table is set for a massive Week 4 matchup back in Orchard Park, NY next weekend. Before we start thinking about that, however, let’s talk about five things we learned from this game.

A huge day for Buffalo’s defense

Commanders second-year quarterback Sam Howell had by far his worst day as a professional, continuing a trend of strong Bills defensive play against young quarterbacks in the Sean McDermott era.

It started with applying pressure. Buffalo ended up sacking Howell nine times in this contest, with six different players recording at least one: defensive end Leonard Floyd (2), linebacker Terrel Bernard (2), defensive tackles Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones (1.5 each), and defensive ends Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa (1 each).

Once Howell was rattled, the mistakes started flowing. Bernard intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble forced by cornerback Taron Johnson. Safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Tre’Davious White both jumped in front of bad reads for easy interceptions, and Epenesa tipped a pass to himself on a rollout for a fourth pick, which he then returned for a touchdown.

Buffalo’s offense didn’t need to do much in this one, as the defense had the game well in hand essentially from the start.

What is there to learn about Buffalo’s offense?

Not a ton, to be honest. The Bills posted 387 yards of total offense, with quarterback Josh Allen throwing for 218 yards and a touchdown, adding 46 yards and a score on the ground in a 169-yard ground effort by the team, and only committed one turnover — an Allen arm punt that was inconsequential to the game’s outcome.

Allen was fine. The running game was fine. The team hit a few big plays, didn’t make the big mistake, and also very definitely left some meat on the bone. They neutralized a very strong Commanders pass rush — Allen was not sacked at all — and that was a big win in the overall game flow.

Buffalo’s defense has looked great for three straight weeks to start the 2023 season. Buffalo’s offense looked terrible in Week 1, and while there were certainly inspiring moments in Weeks 2-3, they haven’t been put to the test in a bit. That will change dramatically next week, when the Bills are going to need to score in bunches to score a huge divisional win at home. We’ll learn a lot more about Buffalo’s offense in seven days.

Bills-Dolphins Week 4 tilt is a huge one

Where the Bills have outscored their last two opponents 75-13, the Miami Dolphins just outscored their Week 3 opponent alone by a margin of 70-20. They are 3-0, they have the most explosive offense in the NFL by a considerable margin, and they are going to be a huge problem in a ridiculously difficult AFC.

Miami was already nipping at Buffalo’s heels in the AFC East last season; in case you’ve forgotten, the combined score in the three Bills-Dolphins meetings, including the Wild Card playoff round, was 85-81 in favor of Buffalo, with each team holding serve in their home stadium. No game finished with more than a three-point margin of victory. And now, they are better.

It’s only Week 4, and one early October game does not a season make, but it really does feel like the Bills have a lot on the line next weekend.