ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sean McDermott often talks about the importance of winning up front and how much the Bills value winning in the trenches – and in their 38-10 victory over the Raiders, both lines deserve high praise .
Defensively, the Bills’ run defense set the tone early on, as Ed Oliver tackled Josh Jacobs and suffered four losses on the first play of the game. The run defense only got better from there, as Jacobs (last year’s league-leading rusher) finished with -2 yards on nine carries. Of these nine transfers, six were for either a loss or no gain.
“We were very happy with our ability to stop him. “We just preached all week about stopping the run, stopping the run, stopping the run, and today we woke up with the right mindset to stop the run,” Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd said after the game .
As a team, the Raiders ran for just 55 yards, a huge improvement for the Bills’ run defense after giving up 172 rushing yards to the Jets last week.
“We knew we had to stop the run, that was our biggest priority during the week, we knew what kind of football team they were going to be and we felt like if we could get ahead of them and stop the run, then “If we put them in a pass situation, we could be happy, and we did,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.
And they celebrated. Even though the Bills didn’t have a sack, the guys were in Jimmy Garoppolo’s face all day. Ed Oliver had a monster game and is playing like he just got paid this offseason. Greg Rousseau continues to dominate as he had a tackle for loss and deflected a pass, as did AJ Epenesa who also deflected a pass. DaQuan Jones also came up with one of those tackles for loss on Jacobs, just to name a few of the guys up front that made an impact.
“Our front line played well in the running game and that’s where it has to start. It starts every week at the line of scrimmage. “This game usually comes down to both sides of the ball,” Sean McDermott said. “They are a catalyst for us playing well.”
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line set the tone for a balanced attack as Josh Allen not only threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, but the team also ran for 183 yards. James Cook led the way in that department with 17 carries for 123 yards, but all three guys chipped in as Damien Harris had 7 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown and Latavius Murray had six carries for 22 yards and also found the end zone .
“I take my hat off to our offensive line and our three running backs,” McDermott said. “I know that a good running game isn’t just about the offensive line and the running backs. It’s more than that, the tight ends, the wide receivers have to block, so usually when you have a good day to run the football it’s a team effort, but it’s important that we have that, right? We can be a two-dimensional offense and hit the ball when we need to hit it. I was proud and pleased to see that. If you can control the line of scrimmage, play-calling becomes a lot easier.”
Spencer Brown is a guy who had an up-and-down start to his career as a back injury hampered his season last year, and at times he was the focus of criticism when it came to the offensive line, but against the Raiders he had one great game and did a really good job against Maxx Crosby. Although he had help most of the time, Brown deserves a lot of credit for the way they were able to limit Crosby in the game.
“We had a good game plan for him, James chips, everything like that, tight ends helped me, running backs out of the backfield. Crosby is a handful, I knew that coming in. I respect the way he plays, he has a different motor,” Brown said after the game.
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. You can find more information about her work here.