ATLANTA – Here's a breakdown of the Buffalo Bills' 23-17 victory against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
Everything changes: The modest expectations aren't so modest anymore. At 3-1 and with one of their biggest road victories in a long time, the Bills are a legitimate contender, not a team just looking to build for the future. They have a real shot at being 4-1 entering their Week Six bye. And take a look at the AFC East standings: The Bills' win, combined with the Patriots' loss, have Buffalo alone in first place.
Player of the game: Safety Micah Hyde. His two interceptions were one of the highlights of another solid defensive effort.
Player of the game II: Stephen Hauschka. His field goals of 56 and 55 yards in the fourth quarter gave the Bills their margin of victory. After a little shakiness early, Hauschka has been money.
Player of the game III: Defensive end Jerry Hughes. His sack and forced fumble, which rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White returned 52 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, was the decisive play of the game. It gave the Bills a 14-10 lead and great momentum the rest of the way. Hughes now has 34 sacks, tying him for 10th on the team's all-time sack list with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
White living up to Defensive Rookie of the Month Billing: Fresh off of being named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month, Tre’Davious White, with his fumble return for a score, became the Bills' first defensive back to score a TD since Nickell Robey-Coleman in 2013. His was the Bills’ first fumble recovery touchdown since Aaron Williams’ 53-yard return on Sept. 25, 2016 against Arizona.
Holding on: With no turnovers through the half, the Bills set a team record with 13 consecutive quarters without a turnover. They went without a turnover to extend the mark to 15. The previous mark of 12 was set in 2015.
Pass-catching milestones: Charles Clay's 44-yard reception in the second quarter was his longest since joining the Bills in 2015. The play set up Jordan Matthews' first scoring catch as a Bill and the 20th of his career.
Taylor surpasses 7,000: Tyrod Taylor surpassed the 7,000-yard passing mark for his NFL career.
Hyde hits milestone: Hyde's 10th career interception in the third quarter made him the third NFL safety with 10 interceptions and four sacks since 2013 (Reshad Jones of Miami of Harrison Smith of Minnesota are the others).
Big losses: The Falcons lost their top two receivers in the first half with injuries: Julio Jones (hip) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring).
Worthy of a roster spot: The Bills made a statement of sorts about how they feel about last year's third-round draft pick, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, by making him inactive. He has been one of the few members of the defensive front who didn't play particularly well through the first three games. As a result, the Bills sat him down in favor of Jerel Worthy, seeing his first regular-season action since entering concussion protocol at the end of the preseason.
Counting the house: The Falcons announced that they distributed 71,273 tickets for the game. There seemed to be a lot of empty seats. The full ones had a decent number of Bills fans in blue jerseys.
Up next: Another road game awaits, this time in Cincinnati (which got its first win of the season against Cleveland Sunday), site of one of the Bills' seven wins last season. After that, the Bills have their bye.