Most Bills fans have shed the fatalism that was common during the long playoff drought, a feeling that some calamity was bound to occur, and that sometimes it just wasn’t their day.
Quarterback Josh Allen can assure the faithful that this current team doesn’t entertain such negative thoughts. No matter how tough the conditions or grim the circumstances, the players never think they’re out of a game.
“I tell you, it would be very difficult if we didn’t have the guys in our locker room that we did,” Allen said Sunday after the Bills rallied from 17 points down to beat the Ravens, 23-20.
“Guys that love each other, who want to play for each other, aren’t going to stress in frantic situations” he said. “When you have that love and respect for one another, I don’t think you ever really feel that way.”
Of course, it’s easy to never lose faith when you have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL — especially when you have a defense that’s consistently at the top of the league.
Allen said the confidence was palpable in the locker room at halftime. The Bills had scored before halftime to cut the deficit to 20-10. They figured the defense would stop Baltimore in the third quarter and the offense would get right back in the game.
“Von Miller always tells us, ‘Don’t blink,’” said all-Pro safety Jordan Poyer. “In the locker room coming out of halftime, we told them, ‘We’re going to get a three-and-out. You guys are going to get the ball in good field position. Go score.’”
That’s exactly what happened. The Bills’ defense dominated the Ravens for most of the second half, shutting out the league’s top-scoring offense after halftime and stopping a late drive when Poyer intercepted Lamar Jackson in the end zone.
Why wouldn’t the guys have been confident? The Bills’ defense hasn’t allowed a single point in the third quarter this season. They’ve given up seven points total in second halves, the only blemish the go-ahead touchdown by the Dolphins in a Week 3 loss.
Leslie Frazier’s defense continues to be the class of the NFL. Through four weeks, the Bills are allowing just 234.5 yards per game, which ranks second in the league to the Niners pending Monday night’s game.
A year ago, they led the NFL at 272.7 yards a game. They were the only team in the league that permitted under 310 yards a contest. They led the league in scoring defense, allowing 17.0 points a game. They’re currently third in the NFL at 14.5 points a game.
The Buffalo defense is second in the league in pass defense at just 150.7 yards a game. They’re first in adjusted yards per pass attempt at 3.8. That’s better in both categories than a season ago, when they led the NFL by a wide margin in both.
It was fashionable to attach an asterisk to the Bills’ defense stats from a year ago. They played half a dozen backup quarterbacks and some marginal offenses. But you can’t scoff at the quality of the opposing offenses they’ve faced this season.
They shut down the defending Super Bowl champion Rams and last year’s top AFC seed, the Titans. They handled Tua Tagovailoa a week after he had a career game, with all four starters in the secondary hurt. They solved Jackson, who came in on a historic roll as a favorite for league MVP.
Things should get a lot easier when the Steelers hit town on Sunday. Mike Tomlin benched quarterback Mitch Trubisky at halftime of Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Jets. Tomlin wanted a spark and went with rookie Kenny Pickett, who was 10 of 13 passing with three interceptions. He’ll likely get his first NFL start against the NFL’s top pass defense, a daunting assignment indeed.
“It was awesome to come up with the victory, down 20-3,” Poyer said. “Nobody blinked at halftime. We understood what we needed to do to come out with a win and we did it.
“It really showed a lot about how we were able to handle adversity today. A lot of people probably counted us out early in the game, down 17 against a really good football team. We were able to come back, keep our heads straight, don’t blink and we found a way to win.”
Jordan Poyer’s hot start
Poyer had two interceptions against the Ravens, the first multi-interception game of his career. He’s now leading the NFL in picks with four, and he missed the Miami game.
Three players are tied with three interceptions: Baltimore’s Marcus Williams, Chicago’s Eddie Jackson and Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, who comes to Buffalo next Sunday.
Poyer is the first Bill to record four interceptions in the first four games since Kiko Alonso did it as a rookie in 2013. Talk about history repeating itself. Like Poyer, Alonso had two picks in a 23-20 win over the Ravens in Week 4 that season.
Four Bills have picked off five passes in the first four weeks of a season. Jeff Nixon did it in 1980, including three in one of the most famous wins in team history — a 17-7, season-opening win that ended Miami’s 20-game win streak against the Bills.
Dwight Harrison had five in the first four games in 1975; Butch Byrd, the Bills’ career interception lead with 40, had five through four games in 1969. Charley Warner had five picks in the first two games for the 1965 AFC champs and finished with five.
Henry Jones had four in the first four games in 1992, including two returns for touchdowns in one game against the Colts.
Poyer is tied for 10th on the Bills’ career interception list (22) with George Saimes and Jairus Byrd. No Bill has had more than six picks in a single season since Byrd had nine in his rookie season of 2009 — including a stretch of eight in five games.
The Bills’ record for interceptions in a season is 10, held by Billy Atkins (in 1961) and Tom Janik (1967). Byrd, Nate Odomes (1993) and Tony Greene (1974 and ’77) had nine.
Ravens’ questionable gamble
The NFL active interception leader is the Ravens’ Marcus Peters, who has 32 picks for three teams since entering the league with the Chiefs in 2015.
Yes, the same Peters who had to be restrained from going after Baltimore coach John Harbaugh before the Bills kicked the winning field goal —after Harbaugh decided not to kick a field goal and go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Bills 2-yard line late in the game.
Evidently, Peters didn’t appreciate an apparent lack of faith by Harbaugh in his defense. Poyer intercepted Jackson in the end zone and the Bills drove to the winning field goal. The Ravens, who came into the season 100-3 all-time when leading by at least 17 points, have now blown two such leads this season.
“Emotions run high,” Harbaugh said of Peters’ tirade. “We’re on the same page. We’ve got a great relationship. I love him. I hope he still loves me.”
Harbaugh said the analytics supported his decision. How it supported taking a risk against an elite defense that had given up seven points in the second half all season is open for conjecture.
Is He Owned?
This week’s fantasy football find is Atlanta rookie running back Tyler Allgeier, who rushed for 84 yards in Sunday’s 23-20 win over the Browns. Allgeier’s value shot up Monday when the Falcons placed starter Cordarrelle Patterson on the injured list.
Allgeier, who rushed for 1,606 yards and 23 touchdowns for BYU last season, is a 5-11, 220-pound power back who led the FBS with 50 broken tackles in college last year.
He had 104 scrimmage yards against Cleveland — 10 carries for 84 yards and a catch for 20 more. With Patterson hurt, the Falcons went run-heavy against the Browns. Caleb Huntley had 10 carries for 56 yards. But Allgeier played before Huntley and was the running back in the late going.
The Browns were without two of their top edge rushers. But Atlanta coach Arthur Smith likes Allgeier, so he figures to get a good share of touches. You can never be too deep at running back in fantasy.
I might even put in a bid. I took Jonathan Taylor first overall in the media league, and with Taylor underperforming and dealing with a high ankle sprain, I could use the depth.
Josh Allen has 15,341 career passing yards and has passed Jack Kemp (15,134) for the third-most in team history in regular season. Jim Kelly leads with 35,467 yards and Joe Ferguson is second at 27,590. If Allen plays every game and averages 275 yards a game (his average since the start of the 2020 season), he’ll pass Kelly late in the 2026 season.
Mark Andrews, who leads all NFL tight ends in receiving yards since the start of the 2021 season, had two catches for 15 yards against the Bills. That’s the fewest catches he’s had in a game since October of 2020 and the fewest yards in a game since he had one catch for 14 yards in a 24-17 win at the Bills in December of 2019.
Geno Smith passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 49 yards and a score in Seattle’s 48-45 win over Detroit. The last time Smith had 300 passing yards, two passing TDs and a rushing TD in a game was in the third game of his rookie season in 2013, when he led the Jets over the Bills and fellow rookie EJ Manuel.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano tied his career high with 13 tackles against the Ravens. He had 13 in a loss to the Eagles in 2017. Milano had several key stops on Lamar Jackson. He’s as good a tackler as there is in the NFL.
Seattle’s win over the Lions was the first 48-45 final in NFL history — what has become known as a “Scorigami.” It was the first 48-45 final in history, and 1,073rd unique final score.
Jerry Sullivan is an award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in 2020 after three decades as a sports columnist at The Buffalo News. See more of his work here.