Bills fans will be leaving Orchard Park this evening with a sign of relief after their Buffalo Bills outlast the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18 on Thursday Night Football. Josh Allen and the Bills had some trouble with the Buccaneers defense in the first quarter, only managing to take a 3-0 lead. Allen must have said something to his offense on the sideline before the second quarter because Allen became the catalyst to jumpstart Buffalo’s offense by scrambling 13 yards to give Buffalo a 10-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half. Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers would find some momentum near the end of the second half after converting a field goal and then forcing Josh Allen to throw an interception on the Bills following drive. This turnover would set up Tampa Bay to drive two plays and have Mayfield find Chris Godwin on a goal line slant for a touchdown to tie the game at 10 with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Buffalo answered back quickly with a 9 play 75 yard drive that ended with rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid recording his first career touchdown catch, giving the Bills a 17-10 lead going into halftime.
The Bills offense would continue to move the chains for the majority of the second half, but were unable to score any more points after reaching their final total of 24. The Bills would open the second half with a 9 play 75 yard drive ending in a touchdown catch from Gabe Davis. Davis finished the night with 9 receptions for 87 yards on top of the touchdown catch. Davis was finding pockets in the Buccaneers coverage all night, which opened up windows for fellow wideout Stefon Diggs. Diggs finished the contest with 9 catches for 70 yards. Although Diggs did not find the endzone he managed to create mismatches for other wideouts like Davis, Kincaid, and Khalil Shakir who led the game in receiving with 92 yards on 6 catches. This assortment of distribution helped Josh Allen go 31/40 for 324 yards, 2 TDs, and the one turnover, ultimately leading to a bounceback win for the Bills.
Baker Mayfield continues to show that he can be a serviceable quarterback for the Buccaneers after going 25/42 for 237 yards and 2 TDs. Mayfield did everything he could tonight to try to keep up with a determined Josh Allen but ultimately this game finished with how the majority of Tampa’s games will finish this season, disappointing. The Buccaneers are in some sort of an NFL purgatory as they continue to be competitive in games but cannot get over the hump to actually pull out wins. Tampa Bay now moves to 3-4 with many questions swirling around their locker room as the trade deadline approaches on October 31st. Maybe the spookiest rumor surrounding this team is that of veteran wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans has spent his entire nine year career in Tampa Bay but with this being the last year of his contract and the Buccaneers continuing to look like a team that won’t make the playoffs, I would not be surprised to see the Pro Bowl wideout shipped come next Tuesday. Evans did catch a touchdown tonight but only hauled in 3 receptions for 39 yards on 6 targets. Evans is reaching the back end of his career but is still proving he can provide value to a capable offense. It will be interesting to see what a team will give up in order to bring such a reliable target into their offense. The Buccaneers will look to get off their losing streak as they head to Houston with a date with the Texans.
Buffalo will be elated after outlasting the Buccaneers in this “get right” game after losing a heartbreaking game to division rival New England last week. After their loss in Foxborough, many were questioning how good this Bills team actually is after failing to show up against a weak Patriots team. Josh Allen has been performing as one of the best quarterbacks all season statistically but his teams record has not directly reflected his statistics. Allen performed at the level we have grown accustomed to seeing and Bills fans should feel reassured that their team is not as far away from the Super Bowl aspirations as one could have previously thought after last week's loss. Allen seemed to be able to play more freely tonight, using his legs and making more off schedule plays work, through spreading out targets and not just forcing the ball to Stefon Diggs when they needed to make a play. The Bills will continue to look to get starters back on their defense that continues to struggle to get off the field in key situations, but thankfully they have the MVP frontrunner as their quarterback to take a good amount of the pressure off their shoulders. The Bills will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Cincinnati for a duel with the Bengals.