All NFL fans think their teams have suffered crushing defeats that tend to overshadow big victories, but Bills fans can tell you the Bills 33-30 overtime loss to the streaking Minnesota Vikings in Highmark Stadium was the most crushing loss in memory.
Oh I know, Wide Right, the Music City Miracle, and :13 seconds still hurt and were more important, but this one was excruciating.
Blowing another two TD halftime lead was tough, but seriously?
The 8-1 Vikings have been doing this all year, but it looked like the Bills finally had their number after an incredible goal line stand late in the 4th quarter let the Bills hold a 27-23 lead with :49 seconds left. The Bills chose not to take a safety from their own one because the Vikings would have too much time left. But who could have predicted Josh Allen would mishandle the center snap and somehow, incredibly, a Vikings player recovered the ball for a TD and 30-27 lead? I’ve never seen that happen. Not once.
It was that kind of day for Allen, who didn’t practice at all until Friday, and defied all the experts by playing despite an injured elbow UCL injury a week ago against the Jets. Ahem, somebody said all last week Allen would play, and they laughed. Hint. It was in this space if you want to check back.
What we hoped was an anomaly is now becoming worrisome, with Allen throwing two red zone interceptions in the 4th quarter and overtime that essentially cost the Bills the game. Allen now has thrown 4 red zone int’s in the past two weeks.
His courage and heart are inarguable. He’s a lion. In this game Allen threw for 330 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 84 on six carries, but the int’s were stunningly poor decisions. Nobody feels worse about it than Allen.
So now 6-3, the Bills are in third place in the AFC East behind the Dolphins at 7-3 and idle 6-3 Jets, and with 8 games left, there’s work to do.
Before we tear apart the Bills, again missing some key players on defense, like Greg Rousseau, Jordan Poyer and Kaiir Elam, let’s talk about the Minnesota Vikings. They’re resilient and good in all 3 phases. Kirk Cousins did throw a couple picks, but he kept the chains moving with 357 yards and a TD, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson was simply unstoppable. Jefferson is the guy the Vikings drafted with the first round pick the Bills gave them for Stefon Diggs, and both teams benefitted. Diggs had another great game with 12 catches for 128 yards, but that paled to Jefferson’s output. With several of his 10 catches keeping drives alive on 3rd and 4th down, the speedster from LSU racked up 193 yards despite being tightly covered on several of the grabs. What a player!
Josh Allen is a generational talent. An incredible competitor who is sometimes the victim of his own desire to win, and it now seems obvious he’s pressing, which leads to poor decisions. Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox did step up in this one, but running back Devin Singletary averaged only 3.6 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble. He did score his first 2 TD’s of the season on short runs, but Allen continues to be the Bills leading rusher. My hope is that Bills fans will understand that Allen is human, and playing aggressively sometimes leads to mistakes. He’s been the vocal team leader along with others like Diggs and Von Miller, but now the team needs to rally around him and have his back.
Everything the Bills want is still ahead of them with 8 games left, they’re 0-2 in the AFC East, true, but they still play Miami, the Jets and Patriots at home, in what has become the NFL’s toughest division.
With any luck, the Bills just might see these Vikings again.
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