ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) – Admit it.
When the Buffalo Bills surrendered a picture perfect throw and catch from Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston to Mike Evans, you thought the game was over. After all, over the last three years, fans have been conditioned to seeing a late go-ahead score for the opposition to result in a loss for the Bills.
Except for this time, it didn’t.
The Bills kept a level head, marched down the field and tied the ball game so quickly that it left them time for the defense to stand out — to which they did. At the end of it all, the Bills collected a 30-27 victory and are now 4-2 on the regular season,
How did we get here? Seven observations from the Bills win.
Tyrod Taylor deserves a little bit of blame, and a whole lot of credit
– I’ll be the first to admit that over the past three seasons, I’ve given my share of criticisms towards Tyrod Taylor’s game. By this point, we all know what he is as a starting quarterback — and that’s someone that can make a few fascinating plays with his legs, make a throw or three that are great, and that won’t cost his team the victory by turning the ball over. He’s also a good enough quarterback to help a team sneak into the playoffs… and his effort down the stretch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was indicative of that. He certainly had his share of warts in the early going. He wasn’t the most accurate of passers, and it was a slow start in all for the passing offense against a pretty bad pass defense. However, on the third-and-long play when he scrambled away from multiple defensive linemen and found Nick O’Leary wide open for a huge play, you’re reminded that maybe only a few other quarterbacks in the league have the ability to escape that play and find the open man down the field. Then, with all, that’s been correctly written about his inability to lead a team to a comeback win… Taylor did just that. Following the seemingly back-breaking touchdown catch from Mike Evans, the three-play drive with just over three minutes to go and down seven points was nothing short of spectacular from the Bills. First play, with fans wanting Taylor to prove he could do it in a big spot, he spots Deonte Thompson and nails him for a 44-yard reception to have the Bills knocking on the door of a touchdown. He trusted the rookie Zay Jones on the next play for another nine yards, and then LeSean McCoy finished the job with a touchdown run from seven yards out. Then with a shortened field, they collected a key first down on a third-down attempt to help run out the clock even more, and give the Buccaneers next to no hope of tying up the game. Again, Tyrod Taylor is not perfect, and he’s probably not the franchise quarterback for the Bills. However, he is the quarterback of a 4-2 team… and a team that has a head coach and general manager that have said multiple times that they believe they can win this season. To those that are holding on hope to Nathan Peterman starting… do yourself a favor and follow the advice of Elsa and Anna: Let it go. Taylor isn’t being removed from the starting lineup unless he’s either hurt, or the Bills are way out of the playoff race — and the latter doesn’t seem to be all that likely based on what we’ve seen through six games.
2) Thompson steals the show… and deserves to start
– It’s hard to find a better candidate of what encapsulates the 2017 Buffalo Bills more than wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Signed on Tuesday, we didn’t really know what to expect from the new addition to the offense. All we knew was that he is a speedy receiver, started games for the Chicago Bears earlier this season, and that he spent a total of four training camps with starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor between Baltimore and Buffalo. From an unwanted entity to the only 100-yard receiver for the Buffalo Bills in six games this season. Perhaps my favorite stat: Thompson has more Bills receptions (4) than practices (3) with the team this season. He certainly provided the speed aspect to his game, and Taylor showed that he trusted Thompson by delivering a pass to him in a huge spot late in the fourth quarter. For the Bills and their overall lack of production at the wide receiver position this season, you cannot ignore a breakout game from a veteran player. Thompson’s 100-plus yard outburst should earn him even more time on the field — and I don’t think it should come at the cost of any Jordan Matthews playing time. I thought this could be the week that we see a little bit more from rookie Zay Jones — but an early drop defined his day. To his credit, he made a pair of receptions — including the one on the game-tying drive. However, something just isn’t right at this point. I’m not saying they should do away with his playing time entirely, but, I think Thompson should see more snaps next week against the Raiders until Jones proves to become a bit more dependable. You don’t want to bury his confidence, but, they also need production — and they aren’t getting it from him. Let Thompson take over for the most part until Jones figures it out, and more importantly until Taylor fully trusts him.