4 Observations: Bills beat Panthers 31-14

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) reacts after wide receiver Gabriel Davis (13) scores a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – I’m not sure what or how much we learned about the Bills during Sunday’s win but they got the job done and that’s enough this time of year.

The two main objectives entering the day: 1. Win 2. Keep Josh Allen healthy. The Bills were able to check both boxes and set up a big time showdown next Sunday against the Patriots that will got a long way in determining who wins the division.

Here are my 4 observations following the win:

  1. Role players step up. Sunday’s win wasn’t about the marquee names but about the “next man up” making big plays. Defensive lineman Efe Obada had 1.5 sacks this season but was able to bust through for a pair of sacks against his former team. The Bills receiving crew wasn’t led by Stefon Diggs but instead it was Gabriel Davis putting up a team-high 5 receptions, 85 yards and 2 touchdowns. The only time the Bills running game gets attention this season is when it’s negative but that wasn’t the case on Sunday. Devin Singletary finished with season-high 86 yards and a career-high 22 carries. 
  1. A rookie’s rough game. Spencer Brown will want to forget Sunday as quickly as possible. The 23-year-old offensive lineman was flagged 5 times (4 upheld) including a personal foul that got him benched for a few plays in the 2nd half. “That was me being an idiot and hurting my team,” Brown said after the game. To be fair, Spencer was put in a tough spot. Starting left tackle Dion Dawkins was placed on the COVID list so Brown was flipped from the right side to the left side. His 1st NFL start at left tackle came against one of the best passing rushing defensive lines in the NFL. It wasn’t an ideal situation for Brown or the Bills but there will be better days to come.
  1. Happy feet. Josh Allen had a walking boot on after the Bucs game but was wearing a smile instead this Sunday. The Bills quarterback suffered a foot sprain and was limited the first two days of practice during the week but was full go on Friday and looked healthy against the Panthers. He tossed 3 touchdowns in the win but the big test came when decided to run the ball. Allen ended any doubt about foot issues in the 3rd quarter when he sprinted 26 yards for a 1st down. After the game Allen said he felt good. 
  1. Numbers game. Josh Allen has 31 touchdowns passes this season and is now the only Bills QB to throw for 30+ TDs in consecutive seasons. Stefon Diggs has over 1,000 yards receiving this season and joins Stevie Johnson as the only Bills players to go over 1K in back-to-back seasons. Sean McDermott beat the Panthers for the first time as a head coach. The Browns, Cardinals, Bears, Packers, and Eagles are the only teams he hasn’t beat. The halftime score of 17-8 was a first in NFL history.

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