The offseason begins for the Buffalo Bills after finishing the season 9-7 and losing a heartbreaking game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild card round. Going from a projected 4-12 team to shocking the NFL by making the playoffs, the Bills will now to have the opportunity to reload instead of rebuild.
In their first four weeks, they faced the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. The team started 3-1 and were off to a hot start heading into midseason. Originally being called a team that was “tanking”, the Bills showed that they could produce with who they had.
Week 1: New York Jets
Both the Jets and Bills were originally the two teams that showed no hope for the season. Tyrod Taylor, already facing pressure and possibly his last season in Buffalo if the Bills didn’t go far showed potential for a good season against the Jets. The Bills offense looked great in both the pass and rush. Taylor finished with 224 passing yards for two touchdowns and one interception. He also added 38 rushing yards.
LeSean McCoy was chasing that 10,000 rushing yard milestone this season and this game was a good first start for him towards that goal. Unable to reach the end zone, McCoy still finished with 110 rushing yards off of 22 carries. McCoy also finished as the Bills third best receiver this game with 49 yards behind Charles Clay who had 53 yards and Jordan Matthews with 61.
The defense showed up and contained Josh McCown, who finished with 187 yards and two interceptions by Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. The Bills only allowed one rushing touchdown and they captured a 21-12 win
Week 2: @ Carolina Panthers
As well as the defense played, the Bills offense struggled majorly failing to score a touchdown and relying on Stephen Hauschka to get the Bills only 3 points in this game. An all out defensive battle, the Panthers had the chance to make the score 21-3 at one point but the Bills defense stood their ground in the red zone and held the Panther to three field goals.
If only the Bills offense would have at least gotten into field goal range, the Bills may have had the chance to tie the game. On the Bills last offensive drive, the offense were driving down the field and were close the end zone. The final play ended the Bills 1-0 record as Taylor threw the ball to Zay Jones who failed to make the game wining catch just a yard out of the end zone. The clock ran out and the Panthers won in a field goal match, 9-3 give the Bills a 1-1 record.
Week 3: Denver Broncos
The Bills biggest challenge so far. Going up against a 2-0 Broncos team in Buffalo. The Broncos were the clear favorite but the Bills were up to the test.
Much like the Jets game, the Bills were able to stop Trevor Siemian and take advantage of their chances on offense. Limiting Siemian to 259 yards and picking him off twice helped the Bills in a big way. Rookie Tre’Davious White and E.J. Gaines each had an interception that was crucial for the Bills late in the game. Siemian was sacked three times as well.
Tyrod Taylor led the Bills with 213 passing yards and two touchdown to Andre Holmes and Charles Clay. The offense was clicking, especially with Hauschka making field goals when it mattered the most. What sealed the game for the Bills? Broncos’ Von Miller took down Taylor on a crucial third down play when the Broncos were down by 7. After the play, Miller pulled his hand back from Taylor in what seemed like he was going to help Taylor back up. With it happening in front of a referee, an unsportsmanlike call was made and it cost the Broncos 15 yards that helped Bills make the game sealing field goal.
The Bills went on to win 26-16 and shook the NFL for a week by starting out 2-1.
Week 4: @ Atlanta Falcons
Arguably the Bills toughest game, yet their biggest win of the season. The Falcons who were 3-0 heading into this game were projected to handle the Bills.
Taylor continued to show what he is made of, facing a tough Falcons defense and putting 23 points on them. He was able to get Jordan Matthews in the end zone for the teams’ only offensive touchdown of the game. Taylor was able to keep Matt Ryan off the field at times which helped the Bills in a big way.
The defense was the real MVP squad in this game. Allowing just 17 points against a high scoring Falcons offense was amazing. What else helped the defense? Both Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu came out of the game due to injuries, The play of the game was made by Tre’Davious White who returned a fumble 52 yards for a Bills touchdown. After Ryan lost control of the ball and was originally ruled as an incomplete pass, the refs reviewed the play and it turned out that Ryan did indeed fumble it and White scored a touchdown.
Hauschka once again showed that he was a great free agency pick up as he went three for three on field goals, including two that were clutch near the end of the game.
The Bills defense held the Falcons and stopped them on fourth down late in the game to seal the 23-17 victory.
The Bills were at 3-1 and coming off of two tough wins and their season was showing promise for a potential playoff run.
Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the Buffalo Bills. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_ray79 and @FPC_Bills for Buffalo Bills Coverage.