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A hot read? Experience has taught me not to overreact to a hot start by the Bills during the 17-year playoff drought. I still don't think they're a playoff team, and they're bound to find their level over a long season.
But they're better than I thought when I picked them to go 4-12 this season. That prediction suggested they were a bad team, one of the worst half dozen in the NFL. They're not a bad team, because they have a good defense. And when they play good D in front of their home crowd, they're hard to beat.
The Bills beat the Broncos, 26-16, on Sunday at New Era Field. It was a triumph in all three phases of football. Tyrod Taylor made the big throws and didn't turn the ball over; Stephen Hauschka kicked four field goals, three of 49 yards or longer; and the defense had a terrific day against a good offense.
They weren't as dominant as they had been in Carolina a week earlier. But make no mistake, the Broncos were a more formidable foe than the Panthers. They had a hot quarterback, Trevor Siemian, who has two elite wideouts and a solid one-two running back tandem of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles.
The Broncos moved the ball well at times. They targeted rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White early with great success. Siemian threw for 259 yards. The Broncos ran 23 times for 111 yards, but 51 of those yards came on two runs. The defense did what the good defenses do – they stiffened in the big moments and kept the opposition out of the end zone. Denver settled for field goals on drives that stalled at the Buffalo 20-, 17- and 10-yard lines. They have been rock-solid in the red zone all season.
The Broncos were down, 23-16, after Hauschka's third field goal. Again, they moved deep into Bills territory. But on first-and-10 from the 24, Siemian was pressured by Eddie Yarbrough and threw a horrible pass toward the right sideline and right into the arms of the rookie, White.
The Bills ran nearly eight minutes off the clock before settling for another field goal, then the defense held off down the stretch, giving an aroused home crowd reason to exult in the 90-degree heat.
With 1:55 to play, the Broncos faced fourth-and-4. Siemian threw incomplete.
On a day that began with 10 Bills kneeling to protest Donald Trump, the entire crowd was on its feet to root on the defense. I guess they'll worry about the draft later.