ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sean McDermott often talks about the importance of winning up front and how much the Bills value winning in the trenches — and in their 38-10 win over the Raiders, both lines deserve high praise.
Defensively, the Bills run defense set the tone early as Ed Oliver tackled Josh Jacobs for a loss of four on the very first play. From there, the run defense only got better as Jacobs (last year’s league-leading rusher) ended with -2 yards on nine carries. Of those nine carries, six of them were either for a loss or no gain.
“We were very happy with our ability to stop him, we just preached all throughout the week stopping the run, stopping the run, stopping the run and today we woke up with the right mindset to stop the run,” Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd said after the game.
As a team, the Raiders only rushed for 55 yards which is a huge improvement for the Bills run defense after giving up 172 rushing yards last week to the Jets.
“We knew we had to stop the run, that was our biggest emphasis throughout the week, knew what type of football team they were gonna be, and we felt like if we got ahead of them and we were able to stop the run then we get them in a pass situation type game we would be able to feast and we did,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer explained.
And feast they did. Even though the Bills didn’t have a sack, guys were in Jimmy Garoppolo’s face all day. Ed Oliver had a monster game and is playing like he just got paid this offseason. Greg Rousseau continues to dominate as he had a tackle for loss and tipped a pass as well as A.J. Epenesa who batted down a pass as well. DaQuan Jones came up with one of those tackles for loss on Jacobs too, just to name a few guys up front who made an impact.
“Our front played well in the run game and that’s where it’s gotta start. It starts at the line of scrimmage every week. This is a game that usually comes down to the bigs on both sides of the ball,” Sean McDermott said. “They’re a catalyst for us playing well.”
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line set the tone for a balanced attack as Josh Allen not only threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, but the team ran for 183 yards. James Cook led the way in that department with 17 carries for 123 yards but all three guys got involved as Damien Harris had 7 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown and Latavius Murray had six carries for 22 yards and also found the end zone.
“I’ll tip my hat to our offensive line and our three running backs,” McDermott said. “I know when you have a good running game it’s not just the offensive line and the running backs. It’s more than that, the tight ends, the wide receivers have to block so it’s usually a team effort when you have a good day running the football, but it’s important that we have that, right? We can be a two dimensional offense, pound the ball when we need to pound it so I was proud and pleased to see that. When you can control the line of scrimmage it makes play calling a lot easier.”
Spencer Brown is a guy who’s had an up and down start to his career as a back injury hindered his season last year and at times he’s been the center of criticism when it comes to the offensive line but against the Raiders he had a great game and did a really good job against Maxx Crosby. While he did have help most times, Brown deserves a lot of credit for the way they were able to limit what Crosby did in the game.
“We had a good game plan for him, James chips, everything like that, tight ends helped me out, running backs out of the backfield. Crosby’s a handful, I knew that coming in. I respect the way he plays, he has another motor,” Brown said after the game.
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.