Rams at Bills - Week 3 recap
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
3 keys to outcome
1.) Don't call it a comeback
What a fantastic game. What a fantastic effort.
I know silver linings suck, but the Rams came back from a 28-3 deficit in the 3rd quarter against a very, very good Buffalo Bills defense. We're talking about a much uglier game if the Rams don't turn that around. That they made it a reality is a credit to everyone involved - coaches, offense and defense all around.
2.) Offensive onslaught
What the Rams were lacking in the first half was the ability to finish drives. The first possession, a missed field goal out of 1st & 10 from the Buffalo 31. The second, an interception after the Rams had crossed midfield. The third, a 1st & 10 from the Buffalo 12 that only ended in three points. The Rams fourth full possession was their first of the second half that ended in Rams HC Sean McVay going for it on 4th down (no, seriously!) in Bills territory. The Rams had four possessions all of which got past the 50 for all of 3 points.
And then things started clicking.
So yes, give McVay credit for not abandoning the run and going full deep passing game. And give credit to QB Jared Goff who was very good engineering the turnaround. Of course credit's due to the skill players especially RB Darrell Henderson, Jr., and WR Cooper Kupp who made their fantasy owners happy today. But show a ton of love for the offensive line who was fantastic in the run game and very, very good in pass blocking for a unit that took the brunt of the concern going into the season.
3.) Josh Allen is the NFL's chaos agent
I don't want to play Bills QB Josh Allen ever again. On one hand, he's too chaotic and it's too hard to deal with. On the other, I want to enjoy the chaos when he plays anyone else aside from the Rams. It's fun. Except when you're the one dealing with the path of destruction his tornadoing leaves.
1 not key to outcome
1.) The late pass interference call on Darious Williams
Referees don't lose games.
We covered this after the 2019 NFC Championship after the no call on then-Ram CB Nickell Robey-Coleman. We covered this two weeks ago on the offensive pass interference call on Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup.
The call on Rams CB Darious Williams today occurred on a play that snapped with 25 seconds left. The Rams played 59 minutes and 35 seconds before the PI call. If you want to blame the loss on something, blame it on the football before the PI call like giving up 17 yards on 3rd & 25 the play before the PI or the 3rd & 22 earlier in the drive the Bills converted or the dozens of other plays before the PI that created that situation. You fix any number of those, and the PI never exists.
Referees don't lose games. Bad plays like 3rd & 22 do. Blame those. I guarantee McVay is.
5 key factors revisited (from game preview)
1.) Injury impact
We got a sense of this early on when Rams S Jordan Fuller went out and the Rams turned to S Taylor Rapp much to fans chagrin in the first 30 minutes. Some version of "Now I see why Rapp got buried on the depth chart" made its way around Twitter like wildfire. And Bills WR John Brown missed the second half with a calf injury making the Bills' offense a bit thinner.
I do wonder if the Bills who were playing injured saw their performances hindered by playing through it though especially in the second half as the Bills' defense was completely gassed after some long Rams possessions.
2.) Offensive line play
They were fantastic. Banner performance. Need to live this one up, because we might not get many of these this year. They deserve all the love you can give them because we know they won't be winning any kind of awards. Anti-OL bias is real, and I simply won't stand for it.
(FWIW, Buffalo's OL was absolutely dominant in the first 30 minutes. Give them some love too.)
3.) Josh Allen's mobility
Good lord that dude is slippery. He's some kind of weird old Southern idiom. "He's slipperier than a greased eel in a soap factory!"
4.) Turnover battle
How weird was this one? Goff's errant throw in the first half. The interception call on behalf of S John Johnson. Rams DT Aaron Donald causing a fumble from Bills QB Josh Allen while Allen grabs his facemask and Donald recovers the fumble. So so so weird.
5.) K Sam Sloman
3 key matchups revisited (from game preview)
1.) Rams' EDGE v. Bills QB Josh Allen
Hard enough to deal with him, but I thought they did a good job containing him. As slippery as he is ("He's slipperier than an oily frog on a rainy day!"), he gained just 8 yards on four carries.
Not sure anyone will hold him to a lesser day all year.
2.) Rams' RB v. Bills LB
Yes. This. Was good. More.
3.) Rams' DB v. Bills WR Stefon Diggs
Did a great job here. Were it not for Allen's creativity, the Rams' entire passing defense would have looked fantastic on the day. Credit Allen and the Bills' coaching staff for most of their production, but Diggs was kept in check throughout.
Jared was great throughout. The early issues were more situational than anything, and the gameplan didn't have some of the more creative lateral expansion we've seen. He engineered the comeback making plenty of throws some at a very high level of difficulty.
Would have liked to see a bit more elusiveness out of Hendo. We know Akers has it in his bag, but just not a ton of extra yards from Hendo's athleticism . Still, his explosiveness and lack of wasted effort put together a fantastic final line.
Some early issues creating space, but plenty evened out in the second half. A great catch from WR Josh Reynolds. Great navigation of space from WR Robert Woods. More reliability from WR Cooper Kupp to exploit Bills spacing. Run blocking continues to be exceptional.
Not a ton to grade here. Both Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett were largely uninvolved throughout.
Grading this a bit on a curve given expectations and talent level, but they were incredible. They paved the way for Hendo. They kept Goff mostly clean which deserves more credit than the first two games because of deeper passing concepts (A seven-step drop for Goff! And it was glorious!).
This gets bumped a bit because of Aaron Donald's late-game heroics, but the Bills' offensive line absolutely wrecked this group early on. Coupled with the edge rushers, it can be a clear deficiency in situational work.
Just not good. Between Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon, the Bills' running backs were doing plenty of good work. And Allen was largely comfortable throughout the game.
The coverage continues to be very good. There were some issues early, but much of that was linebacker spacing in the passing game along with Josh Allen creating space on his own. Given the way the Bills' offensive line was playing early, there wasn't a ton this group could do though Rapp's work filling in for Fuller wasn't sparkling.
Another missed field goal. Another issue with Cooper Kupp in punt returns.
That adjustments continue to be so clearly well implemented for a coaching staff this inexperienced is evidence of how downright "good" this staff is. And to have a team down 28-3 with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter take the lead in the same game is a testament to the mental fortitude they've installed.
A hell of a comeback. Hell of a game between two very good teams. Sucks to lose and obviously in that fashion given the penalty, but you can't expect every single call to go your way. This one didn't. It stinks. But there's a ton to take heart in on both sides of the ball.