– Matt Haring
Another Miami visit to Buffalo in a familiar result for Bills fans. This time around, things were more competitive than they were when the Bills visited Miami in September, but it was ultimately another blowout in the favor of the Bills. The Bills get back on track with a much needed win at home.
Big plays, Big Results:
The theme of the day for the Bills offense was big plays. A 48 yard LeSean McCoy touchdown, 38 yard Karlos Williams touchdown, 44 yard Sammy Watkins touchdown, and 63 yard Watkins reception that would result in Karlos Williams first touchdown. It’s amazing what a difference a week can make as the Bills welcomed back Tyrod Taylor, Karlos Williams, Sammy Watkins and a fully healthy LeSean McCoy. Many, including myself, viewed Watkins as mainly a decoy this afternoon. Boy was I wrong. Watkins was dynamic all afternoon, making 8 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown, while being the only wide receiver to record a catch. I will admit I was hesitant about the thought of Watkins playing extensively this afternoon with a short week coming up, but the ankle injury did not appear to restrict Watkins whatsoever. With a healthy Taylor, McCoy, Watkins and Williams it’s like watching a whole new offense. Taylor has proven what he can do in terms of his elusiveness in the pocket, and his ability to make big plays with his legs and arm. McCoy finally looks fully healthy and looks sharp and decisive as a runner. We haven’t seen McCoy cut and get skinny through gaps the way that he did today.
The Turning Point:
The second half started off shaky for the Bills defense. They were being beaten rather easily due to some great play calls by Bill Lazor that took advantage of the Bills over aggressive nature, and they Dolphins were driving for their second touchdown of the half. Jerry Hughes lined up outside of right tackle Jason Fox, blew past him and strip-sacked QB Ryan Tannehill. The play was truly a fantastic individual effort on the part of Hughes, as he recovered the fumble with one hand while tumbling to the ground. This play opened the proverbial floodgates, with a long Watkins touchdown coming just a few plays later, and the Bills did not look back.
I briefly touched on Watkins above, but more so in context of the offense and its performance. However, I believe the subject deserves to be talked about quite a bit more. We all know it has been a tumultuous few weeks for Watkins. Struggling with injuries, and battling with fans off the field. I have been a staunch supporter of Watkins during all of this drama simply because I understand where he’s coming from, though I disagree with how he handled it. Nothing about Watkins tenure in Buffalo has been fair. He never had a fair chance to live up to his draft position, both in the eyes of the fans and especially the media. Forever, we’ll be forced to hear about the first round pick that we gave up for him, and how we could have had NFL darling Odell Beckham Jr. All of this, combined with the events of the recent past created a very real feeling of animosity towards the second year receiver. I thought all week that Watkins playing as extensively and effectively as he did today was a serious longshot, especially with a quick Thursday night turnaround. There’s no doubt in my mind that Watkins felt a lot of fan pressure to play this afternoon, despite it being in his best interests. For Watkins to have the type of dominant performance he did today is an amazing story that will hopefully end an excruciating narrative. It should alleviate a burden from his shoulders, and should soften the criticism from fans. Hopefully we won’t be seeing disgraceful comments about his infant daughter on Instagram anymore.
A Rex Ryan homecoming in New York looms large on Thursday Night Football. The Bills will be back to work tomorrow, and the only good news on a short week is that the injury list is just as short. The Bills will be without Kyle Williams, but beyond that there is nobody else that has been definitively ruled out. The Jets are 5-3, and are proceeding forward with a 1.5 handed Ryan Fitzpatrick playing with torn ligaments in his left hand. Going to New Jersey and leaving victory is always a tall task, but the Jets are hardly unbeatable. They are coming off two shaky defensive performances to the Raiders and Jaguars alike. It’s a game that is too tough to call on a normal week, and this sentiment is only magnified on Thursday night where unpredictability is the trend.