The Buffalo Bills are the season favorites to advance to the Super Bowl with a dominating 31-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Thursday’s NFL kickoff game. Buffalo overcame four turnovers and added 31 more points in an impressive performance, dominating the second half to knock off Los Angeles.
Josh Allen finished 26 of 31 for 297 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the win, while rushing for 56 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Allen’s four-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal at the 4-yard line early in the fourth quarter gave the Bills a 24–10 lead that led to the win.
The touchdown run was Allen’s 32nd of his career, tying him with Fran Tarkenton, Kordell Stewart and Terry Bradshaw for 14th all-time in NFL history. Allen had his seventh game with three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, tied for third in NFL history in that category (Drew Brees has nine and Tom Brady has eight).
The Bills’ defense forced three turnovers (all interceptions) and had seven sacks on the night, holding the Rams to just 3.7 per play. Stefon Diggs caught a 53-yard touchdown from Allen in the fourth quarter to put Buffalo up 31-10, capping a night with eight catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper Kupp had a strong night in a lackluster offensive game for the Rams, finishing with 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. Matthew Stafford finished with three interceptions in the loss (his second three-interception game with the Rams) and was 29 of 41 for 240 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Rams head coach Sean McVay is under .500 in a season for the first time in his career. He fell to 5-1 in season openers.
Why the Bills won
The Bills weren’t perfect Thursday night, but they were certainly better than the reigning Super Bowl champions. Buffalo’s defense was excellent — from the pass-rush to the overall play of the secondary. But Allen’s play was so good.
The Bills’ franchise QB completed 26 of 31 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The first interception wasn’t his fault, as Isaiah McKenzie almost handed the ball to a linebacker, but the second was an underthrow. However, for 99 percent of the game, Allen was fantastic. He spread the ball to seven different receivers and always felt like he was on top where there was an open option. Allen had an “unfinished” first half as he went 17 of 20 for 153 yards, a touchdown and two picks.
The NBC broadcast indicated that Allen was getting the ball out of the ball in 2.2 seconds per drop-back entering the fourth quarter — well above average. He seemed comfortable relying on his receivers to make plays in the flat and waiting in the pocket for development downfield.
Everyone will agree that Allen is a star, but Thursday night he built on the fact that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and showed why the Bills are the favorites to hoist the year-end Lombardi Trophy.
Why did Rama lose?
A lot of the blame goes to LA. Jalen Ramsey had a rough night, Stafford missed too many throws and Allen Robinson wasn’t a part of the offense. But one thing that has made life difficult for the Rams overall is the play of the offensive line.
LA is replacing two starters on the offensive front this season and it certainly showed. Stafford was sacked six times for a loss of 43 yards in the first three quarters. According to the Associated Press, the six sacks the Rams have allowed in any game under Sean McVay. Stafford was dismissed once in the final stanza.
While the play of the offensive line hurt Stafford, it also hurt LA’s running backs. The Rams rushed for a total of 52 yards on 18 carries, averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
Down 14 points early in the fourth quarter, the Rams had to make something happen. Instead, Stafford threw his second interception of the night.
Three plays later, Allen Dicks found his way down the right side of the field for a 53-yard touchdown that extended Buffalo’s lead to 21 points.
Game of the game
It was either the moment you jumped for joy or felt your stomach sink. Down 21 points after a Rams interception and a Bills touchdown, Stafford threw his third interception of the night — an impressive do-it-yourself highlight-reel play by Boogie Basham.
Josh Allen is a tough hand
As a defensive back, it should be difficult to bring down a tall, athletic quarterback like Allen in the open field. Nick Scott found out firsthand that it wasn’t a pleasant experience as this highlight-reel from the Bills quarterback ended on the wrong end of a tough hand.
The Bills return to Buffalo for another primetime matchup as they host the Tennessee Titans next Monday night. As for the Rams, they stay at home and host Marcus Mariota and the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday afternoon.
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