One weird stat with the Buffalo Bills the past couple seasons was their record in close games. Over the past two seasons they were 0-7 in games decided by seven points or less, including playoffs
It made the Bills look like frontrunners. They're fine if they get up early and can dominate a team, but could they win if there was adversity?
The Bills had an answer to that question Sunday. Early in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens, everything went wrong. Buffalo turned it over on two of its first three possessions. The Bills made sloppy mistakes in the rain. They had 68 yards on their first five possessions. The Ravens led 20-3.
Buffalo overcame it.
The Bills got their first win after trailing by 17 or more points since Week 3 of the 2011 season, coming back to beat the Ravens 23-20 in a game that wasn't pretty but meaningful for the Bills.
Josh Allen didn't have his best game but he made the plays that the Bills needed, especially on the final drive. A 20-yard pass to Dawson Knox on third-and-2 was huge. So was a roughing the passer penalty on the Ravens on that drive. Tyler Bass kicked a short field goal as time expired.
The Ravens had a questionable decision before that final Bills drive, but Allen and the Bills' offense probably factored into it. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line instead of kicking a field goal and taking a lead. Lamar Jackson was pressured and threw a desperate interception into the end zone. The Bills' final drive would have played out differently if the Ravens took the field goal with Justin Tucker. The Ravens probably didn't want to settle for a field goal, knowing Allen had the capability of leading a touchdown drive right afterward.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2022
The Bills needed a win. They didn't want to fall to 2-2 with the weight of being preseason Super Bowl favorites weighing on them. Also, they needed a close win like Sunday. They faced a big hole and dug themselves out of it.
The Bills are going to face close games, for the rest of this season and in the playoffs. It was an ugly game with a big deficit, and the Bills won it. Now they go forward with the confidence they can win in that situation.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 4 of the NFL season:
Green Bay won on the final play of overtime, 27-24. Mason Crosby kicked a short field goal after a nice drive by Aaron Rodgers. The Packers improved to 3-1 but like last week, when they couldn't put away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had to hang on at the end, you expect a little more from a team expected to contend for a Super Bowl. It wasn't the most impressive performance.
However, it was a win. Plenty of teams in the NFL would have taken a less-than-stellar win Sunday.
The Raiders won 32-23, and there are no more teams without a win or at least a tie this NFL season (the Houston Texans are the lone winless team at 0-3-1). The Raiders got a big 144-yard game from Josh Jacobs on the ground and 101 receiver yards from Davante Adams.
It wasn't an entirely lost afternoon for the Broncos. Denver has been searching for its offense and it finally showed up Sunday. Russell Wilson looked good with 237 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and another one rushing. Denver might have taken on a big loss if running back Javonte Williams' knee injury is serious, but at least there were signs of life from the offense.
it's not as good as the win, which the Raiders got. But at least it was something.
The Jets got a huge comeback 24-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Wilson completing some big passes on the deciding drive. Breece Hall scored on a 1-yard run in the final seconds to lift the Jets to a win.
Wilson, playing his first game this season after hurting his knee in the preseason, threw for 252 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a TD on a trick play. He threw two interceptions, so he still has work to do. But it was a positive first step in a big second season for him.
Head coach Arthur Smith and the Atlanta Falcons: Smith continues to get the most out of an Atlanta roster that didn't get a lot of respect before the season started.
The Falcons are 2-2 after a close win over the Cleveland Browns. The Falcons got a late field goal and picked off Jacoby Brissett to seal the 23-20 win. Atlanta ran the ball very well, gaining 202 yards on the ground. That was the difference.
The Falcons have two heartbreaking losses (the Saints came back on them in the final minute and their own huge comeback over the Rams came short) to go with the two wins. The Falcons are a lot better than anyone predicted, and that's a reflection on their second-year coach.
Reddick had two sacks, including the play that sealed the Eagles' fourth straight win to start the season. After the Eagles didn't get a fourth-down conversion, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a chance to tie trailing 29-21. But Reddick stripped QB Trevor Lawrence, the Eagles recovered and ran out the clock after that.
The Eagles started Sunday's game in a hole. They fell behind 14-0, with seven of those points coming off a pick-six. The defense mostly held after that, allowing the offense to get a lead. When the Eagles needed a big play to clinch the win, Reddick came through.
Everything is clicking for the Eagles early in the season, and they won after a bad start Sunday. They're proving their mettle early in the season.
Justin Herbert: The Los Angeles Chargers lost two straight and faced a tricky game at the Houston Texans on Sunday. Going 1-3 to start the season would have been a tough start after a lot of preseason hype.
Herbert was playing hurt, after fracturing rib cartilage in Week 2. Franchise quarterbacks have to be their best when a win is needed most, and Herbert rose to the occasion.
Herbert threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 win. When it looked like the Chargers were blowing a big lead, Herbert hit Austin Ekeler for a 21-yard gain on fourth-and-2 and later in the drive hit Ekeler for the running back's third touchdown of the game. That turned away the Texans' comeback.
The Chargers still have a lot to overcome including some enormous injuries. But they have Herbert, and that is enough to give them hope.
Justin Jefferson: After a couple of quiet games, Jefferson was back.
Jefferson, often matched up against New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl corner Marshon Lattimore, had a huge game in the Minnesota Vikings' exciting 28-25 win in London. Jefferson had 147 yards on 10 catches and had the biggest play of the game. He beat Lattimore for 39 yards to set up the Vikings' go-ahead field goal.
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
The Vikings held on when Wil Lutz's 61-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds double-doinked off the crossbar. Minnesota held on, thanks to a huge game from its best player.
That’s not great for Mayfield, who beat out Darnold in the preseason to be the Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback. Darnold is out with injury and, shockingly, Panthers fans might be hoping he returns soon and retakes the team’s QB spot.
Mayfield had another bad day as the Panthers lost 26-16 to the Arizona Cardinals. Mayfield hasn’t played well all season and didn’t get much against an Arizona defense that hasn’t been very good this year. Mayfield had 197 yards on 36 attempts in the loss.
Darnold probably isn’t the answer but it’s looking like Mayfield isn’t either. It might be a long season in Carolina, with an uncertain offseason to follow.
Frank Reich: The Indianapolis Colts weren't supposed to be bad this season.
They're 1-2-1 with those two losses and a tie in the division. That's a big hole to dig out of. The Colts lost 24-17 Sunday to the Tennessee Titans, looking flat from the outset in a defeat that gives back any gains they made with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week.
Reich hasn't had the answers. The Colts haven't won a playoff game with him as head coach since the 2018 season and it's a very disappointing start to this year after a really bad end to last season. Reich might not be under any extreme pressure yet, but at some point he has to feel heat for the Colts' repeated failures.
The Colts were sloppy Sunday, whether it was a Jonathan Taylor fumble on a key third-and-1 or Matt Ryan taking a key third-down sack in the fourth quarter that led to a missed field goal. Indianapolis' season is slipping away fast, and Reich better come up with answers.
The Cowboys have won all three of Rush's starts, a surprising development after Dak Prescott's thumb injury. Rush outplayed Wentz on Sunday in the Cowboys' 25-10 win and it wasn't close. The Cowboys have a fierce defense that Washington doesn't have, and that's one reason Wentz struggled. But he has practically been the same Wentz he has been since his brief flash of brilliance with the Eagles. He makes too many mistakes. He didn't do much to help the Commanders on Sunday.
The Cowboys are 3-1 with a backup quarterback leading the way. The Commanders are 1-3 and can't be thrilled about the direction of their season or their future with Wentz.
The 1-3 Detroit Lions: The Lions came into this season with positive buzz and high hopes. They were up against it Sunday, with several key pieces of their offense, notably Amon-Ra St. Brown and D'Andre Swift, out due to injury.
Still, you can't lose at home to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Lions are 1-3 after a miserable 48-45 loss, a week after blowing a game in the final minute to the Vikings. The Lions looked bad in the first half and then Jared Goff started the second half with a terrible interception that was returned for a touchdown. That gave Seattle a 31-15 lead.
The Lions got back in the game after that a couple times, but the defense let them down. The final failure came with a little more than two minutes left and Seattle leading 41-38. On a third-and-5, Rashaad Penny broke a 41-yard touchdown run. That's inexcusable.
The Lions have done some good things this season, and there are reasons to hope they're improving. But they're also 1-3 and nobody wants to hear about empty promise anymore.
The Bears got some yards, with 149 on the ground and 174 passing on those rare Fields completions. But it wasn't close to enough. They don't trust the offensive cast around Fields, they don't trust Fields or both, because the conservative approach looks like something from 40 or more years ago. They'll need to open things up at some point or keep losing winnable games.