Taylor’s four touchdowns lead Bills over Texans, 30-21

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Strange as it sounds, the Buffalo Bills control their own destiny once more.

The Bills are back into the thick of the AFC Wild Card after a 30-21 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

After the Bills and Texans exchanged scoring drives, Buffalo led after the first half, 30-21. In the second half, however, both defenses stepped up. Buffalo’s offense finally made the final plays on offense, with two plays over 20 yards to score the touchdown to take the lead for good with just 1:53 left in the game.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 11/21 for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown. Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran for 112 yards, while Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins had 109 yards and a touchdown on just 3 catches and Bills tight end Charles Clay had 4 catches for 66 yards and the winning touchdown.

Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer was 26/43 for 293 yards, 3 touchdowns and a last gasp interception. Texans running back Chris Polk has 72 total yards and a touchdown, while Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught 5 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, while fellow Texans wideout Cecil Shorts III had 6 catches for 91 yards.

Here are some postgame observations from Buffalo’s big win over Houston:

  • Buffalo may have won the battle for Sunday, but may lose the war of attrition. Buffalo suffered many injuries in this game: cornerback Stephon Gilmore left the game with a shoulder injury, reserver linebacker Tony Steward and reserve cornerback Ron Brooks all left the game. Already missing starters in safety Aaron Williams, linebacker Nigel Bradham, running back Karlos Williams and offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson and John Miller, Buffalo’s depth will be tested even further.
  • Taylor and McCoy kept making the plays needed to advance the Bills in this game. With several key throws, Taylor flipped the field in big situations, while McCoy continued to show how he can be a huge problem for defenses when healthy. They set the tone for the game in the first quarter, when Buffalo had 101 yards rushing after the opening quarter. This is what Buffalo needs to do in order to be potent on offense: Run the ball at will and let Taylor bomb it against a stacked box. The offense works best when it operates through McCoy. By the way, this is your friendly reminder that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly traded McCoy for a lackluster Kiko AlonsoThanks, Chip Kelly!
  • People mock offensive coordinator Greg Roman for bad play calls during games (guilty myself), however, we all need to point out when his schemes work out. Buffalo did a great job shutting down Houston’s superstar defensive end, J.J. Watt, in this game. Watt had no sacks, and minimal pressure on Taylor in this game. Yeah, there was that one play where a Bills tight end, Chris Gragg, wound up on athletic Texans end Jadeveon Clowney, but that will happen at times. But Buffalo did a great job neutralizing Watt, a feat not many teams get to say in the NFL.
    • Furthermore, what a call on the Clay touchdown. Watkins went deep and the offensive left, and blocking tight end Matthew Mulligan ran a wheel route to the offensive right. Watkins and Mulligan drew the Houston safeties in their Cover 2 scheme. Clay, meanwhile, delayed his route with a chip block, and then ran down the middle, wide open for the win.
      • I will say that I am concerned with how quickly Buffalo stops targeting Watkins after teams roll coverage to him. Watkins is your best receiver and a yards-after-catch king, get him the football.
  • Buffalo’s defense reeled itself back in, despite a great drive by Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins in the fourth quarter. Bills rookie cornerback Ronald Darby has come back to earth in recent weeks, but the rookie held strong after Buffalo regained the lead. Darby held Hopkins to 88 yards, with 71 yards coming on one dominant drive. That means that Darby had him to just 16 yards throughout the rest of the game, which is not easy to do.
  • Buffalo finally found a way to win. No excuses, no stupid penalties, no over-the-top bad calls by the refs (there was offensive pass interference that was ignored on Hopkins’ touchdown), no odd ball plays that happened. Buffalo’s offense paced them in the first half. Then, the defense flexed its muscles in the second half. We have yet to see a complete game from this team in a while, but this was more than good enough for a win.
  • Buffalo remains in the race, but got minimal help from other teams. The Jets and Dolphins won, the winner of Raiders/Chiefs doesn’t truly help yet (it’s preferred for Kansas City to win), and they need the Colts to beat the Steelers (likely won’t happen). However, to end the season, Buffalo faces Philadelphia (4-7 entering Week 13), Washington (5-6 entering Week 13), Dallas (3-8 entering Week 13) and the Jets (7-5 after a Week 13 win). That’s not a horrible slate.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buffalo (6-6, 3-2 AFC East) heads to Philly to take on the Eagles (5-7, 2-2 NFC East) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, December 13th.

Written by Derek Kramer

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