Sunday's game was supposed to be remembered as Josh Allen's first career start. But that will only be a footnote, because cornerback Vontae Davis stole the headlines by outrageously deciding to retire in the middle of the Bills' 31-20 loss.
You read that correctly. Two quarters into his Bills career, Davis took off his gear and went home, telling coaches he was finished. He said later in a statement that reality hit him in the middle of the game and he realized he shouldn't be out there anymore. Teammates were dumbfounded.
There's an argument to be made that the Bills are better off without Davis. They trailed 28-6 at halftime and allowed only three points in the second half. Davis will undoubtedly go down in history with other Bills quitters like Doug Marrone, Mike Mularkey, Anquan Boldin and Kyle Orton (just to name the recent ones; Lou Saban, anyone?).
And yet, it feels like something's missing here. At some point, everyone realizes they can't keep up anymore. Most players gut it out and try to find new or creative ways to contribute. At worst, they'll think it over and make an announcement during the week. But they never, ever leave their teammates hanging in the middle of the game.
So here's what doesn't add up: Davis has never been a quitter. Life has presented him thousands of chances to take the easy way out, and he passed every time. Davis started taking care of his siblings when he was 11 years old because his parents battled addiction and weren't around. He stayed positive, kept his grades up and got into college, became a first-round pick out of Illinois, then became a Pro Bowler – matching his older brother Vernon, the 49ers tight end. Davis has been lauded for his charity work with orphaned children and speaks warmly of using his platform to change kids' lives. That guy is going to walk away IN THE MIDDLE OF A GAME just because his performance dropped and his body hurts? Until Sunday, Davis had never been the type to just up and leave. It's curious that he would suddenly start now.
So, about the game... It was another ugly loss. The Bills gave up touchdowns on four consecutive drives in the first half and trailed by as many as 25 points before closing the gap in the second half. The only shred of optimism came from Allen's first start. He wasn't great, completing 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions while taking a number of unnecessary sacks, but it was a step in the right direction. Allen finished with a QB rating of 63.3, which was a full 63.3 points better than last week's starter. You can relive the game quarter-by-quarter right here.
Jay Skurski's observations: Coach Sean McDermott took over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier during the second half. He didn't know if the switch would be permanent. “I just thought we needed a spark and that’s my background,” McDermott said in his postgame news conference. “Coach Frazier does a really good job as well as the defensive staff. I just felt like we needed a spark.”
Report card: Turning Fs into Ds is technically a step in the right direction, but there were still some Fs out there, including coaching.
More good times ahead: The Bills, who are rivaled by only the Cardinals as the NFL's worst team, go on the road the next two weeks at Super Bowl contenders Minnesota and Green Bay. The Vikings opened as whopping favorites over the Bills, according to a Vegas sportsbook.
Plays that Shaped the Game: The Chargers skewered the Bills with both talent and scheme, Mark Gaughan wrote. This is a good time to mention that Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has outscored the Bills 85-44 since being passed over for the head-coaching vacancy after Rex Ryan was fired.
Edmunds has rough outing: When Chargers receivers caught passes over the middle, rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds could usually be seen chasing after them a few seconds too late. “Everything is a learning experience," he said. "Got to look at it and learn from it."
Philip Rivers thinks Allen has the "right mindset": When Rivers comes up in Hall of Fame discussions, I guess we'll be able to say that he once made a cornerback retire in the middle of a game. But the potential HOFer thinks Allen will get better. "I was just telling him, 'It's your first start of a long career. You're only going to improve,' " Rivers said.
Taiwan Jones bloodied after taking hit to head without helmet: The play looked scary live, but Jones was somehow able to walk off the field with only a bloody forehead.
In the lots: For tailgaters, Bills Nation starts with community, Mark Sommer wrote. Sunday was the team's home opener and several former players came back for the tailgate.
Inactives: Shaq Lawson missed the game with an injury, while only four receivers dressed.
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