The 2017 Buffalo Bills posted a huge road victory against the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Here are the biggest reasons why:
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. That was the case with the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon. The Bills were gifted two game changing plays in their favor. Over the years the Bills usually are on the other end of the fortune but this year things have changed (see last weeks Von Miller penalty) in their favor. The first play happened early in the second half and totally changed the momentum and tenor of the game. The play occurred when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan dropped back to pass and Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes wreaked havoc on the play; hitting Ryan’s hand in what initially appeared to be a forward pass. When the ball dropped to the ground, Bills corner Tre’Davious White scooped it up and cruised into the end zone for what the refs called a touchdown on the play. After replay, it appeared clear that it was a forward pass, but due to conclusive evidence, the officials kept the ruling on the field and the touchdown stood. That play clearly rattled the Falcons, finding themselves down 14-10. The second big fortunate play that went the Bills way came with the Falcons driving late in the fourth quarter down 20-17. Matt Ryan had his past tipped and Bills safety Micah Hyde made a shoestring catch to lift the ball off the turf. The interception led to Hauschka’s 56 yard field goal, and stretched the Bills lead to 6. Replay clearly showed the ball touching the ground on the interception but once again there was not enough conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field. Those two plays, more than anything else in the game, contributed to the Bills victory. Additionally, on the last play of the game, the Bills were able to stop the Falcons with only 10 men on the field. This was due to a communication breakdown, but if the Bills ended up giving up a first down there, the situation of 10 men on the field would have been a huge talking point after the game.
The play of Micah Hyde and Tyrod Taylor
Safety Micah Hyde was the player of the game coming up with two interceptions. He also made some important tackles and had some key pass breakups throughout the game as well. Hyde, the “quarterback of the defense”, has had a great season. Tyrod Taylor made the throws that he has needed to make, particularly two downfield strikes to Charles Clay, which set up the Bills first touchdown and the go-ahead field goal. He continues to get it done with a lackluster receiving unit relying on his running back and tight end in the passing game, which probably will continue to be featured all season long.
The Play of the Defense
McDermott and Frazier have this unit humming as they are number one in the NFL in DVOA and scoring defense. Jerry Hughes has returned to his pre-Rex Ryan form and is clearly very comfortable in the system. The completely new secondary has been a revelation. The safeties have continued to make game changing plays and both corners are getting it done in coverage, with Tre White a leading candidate for defensive rookie of the year.
The 23-17 win over the Falcons may be one that we look back on at the end of the year as a turning point in the Bills season…and a lot of that win is due to the reasons I listed above. Go Bills!