1. There’s no substitute for elite talent, as LeSean McCoy showed on two of the biggest runs in the Buffalo Bills’ 30-21 victory over the Houston Texans.
The first was a 20-yard run with 2:16 left that put the Bills into position for the winning touchdown. Pulling guard Kraig Urbik led the way on the power run off right tackle. But McCoy saw the Texans’ defense overflowing and cut back to the weak side so fast everybody but safety Quintin Demps was out of position. McCoy outran Demps to the left sideline and ran to the Houston 43. Sammy Watkins blocked Johnathan Joseph flat onto his back downfield. Two plays later …
2. Clay’s easy layup. It was a bad day for Demps, who blew the coverage on Charles Clay’s decisive 40-yard TD catch with 1:53 left. Demps followed tight end Matthew Mulligan on a flag route to the right sideline. Clay, stacked behind Mulligan before the snap, delayed his release a moment, then ran a post pattern. Demps’ eyes were locked onto Mulligan, even though there was help on the boundary for Mulligan. Easy throw for Taylor.
“I was like, ‘Please don’t miss the layup, please don’t miss the layup,’ ” said Bills coach Rex Ryan.
3. Shady bounces. McCoy made another wicked cut to the sideline on a 32-yard run late in the first quarter that set up the Bills’ second TD. This was a strong-side run led by the fullback, and Houston linebacker John Simon had it plugged up at the line of scrimmage. But McCoy made a hop step – whoop – that left Simon grasping air. It went to the Houston 37.
4. Mad bombing. The Bills have gone years and years without a quarterback who could throw a consistently good deep ball. Taylor seems to have a feel for it. His 53-yard deep-post pass to Watkins in the second quarter was perfect and set up the Bills’ third TD. Richie Incognito blocked up J.J. Watt on the play. Demps was shading toward Watkins but was like a center fielder who didn’t break at the sound of the bat. Too late. Watkins was behind him and rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson.
5. Read-option speed. Talk about elite speed. There may not be another QB in the league who would have scored on the 8-yard read-option run Taylor took to the end zone in the second quarter. It was a fake to McCoy, and fullback Jerome Felton only got a piece of Simon, who was setting the edge on the strong side. But Taylor was too fast and got around Simon to the pylon. The Bills double-teamed J.J. Watt on the play side.
6. Red-zone precision. The Bills’ third TD showed how tough it is to stop a well-timed back-shoulder throw in the end zone. Johnson had good coverage, but Robert Woods came back to the ball, and the throw was perfectly placed. It put the Bills up, 21-13.
7. Rambo strikes again. Bacarri Rambo, the Bills’ third-year safety from Georgia, has done a fine job filling in for injured Aaron Williams. His big play Sunday was a hit that separated Cecil Shorts from the ball and forced a Texans punt with 2:46 left and the game tied, 21-21. Shorts had his hands on what would have been a 13-yard third-down conversion at the Houston 23. Rambo’s big hit caused a drop.
8. Power football. Mike Gillislee’s first carry as a Bill went for 32 yards to set up the first TD of the game. Eric Wood pulled and wiped out linebacker Benardrick McKinney. Urbik pulled and took out safety Andre Hal. Watt was slanting inside, so the scheme took him out of the play. Gillislee followed the convoy to the Texans’ 10.
9. Soup sandwich D. The Bills could not have been more messed up on Houston’s first TD. Once again the culprit was a late defensive call and late substitutions. Houston did not sub and took 23 seconds to snap the ball after the end of the previous play. First the Bills subbed Corbin Bryant for Leodis McKelvin. Then they sent Kevin Reddick on for Nickell Robey. When the ball was snapped, nobody was covering the two receivers to the right and only Stephon Gilmore was covering two receivers to the left. Brian Hoyer could have thrown to three wide-open guys. He picked Ryan Griffin for an 8-yard score.
10. Zone dog bitten. Houston called a perfect draw play against a Bills zone dog for a 17-yard gain to set up its first TD. It was a third-and-7 play, and Robey joined a four-man rush, with both Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson dropping back. Neither had time to get in position to stop the run. Nobody knows zone dogs better than Rex Ryan, but how about fewer of them with Hughes dropping into coverage?