EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Here are my hot reads from the Buffalo Bills' 17-16 season-opening victory against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium:
Hottest Topic: Talk about a tale of two halves.
For the first two quarters, Josh Allen was terrible. He not only showed zero signs of progress to begin his season, he actually seemed to go in reverse in a game where the Bills called passes on their first 16 plays.
Allen was involved in four turnovers. He had two interceptions, although the first wasn't entirely his fault, and had one ball stripped from him and lost another on a center exchange. Allen had yet another interception wiped out by a penalty and a potential fourth that was dropped.
Then, after the Bills took over at their own 20 with 5:55 left, everything changed.
On third-and-2, Allen ran for a first down. He later threw a 20-yard strike to Zay Jones to the Jets' 44. With 3:07 left, on third-and-4 from the Jets' 38, Allen connected with John Brown for a 38-yard touchdown for the winning points.
Well Done: Given the four turnovers, the Bills' defense did a remarkable job preventing the game from getting out of hand in the first half.
Shaq Lawson had a sack of Sam Darnold early in the second quarter that took the Jets out of field-goal range and batted down a third-down pass late in the half. Rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver pushed the pocket and that led to a Lorenzo Alexander sack to end the Jets' first drive of the second half.
• After dropping dropping a third-down pass early in the second quarter, rookie running back Devin Singletary came back strong by rushing for 70 yards on four carries. On a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, he had gains of 23, 12 and 15 yards to help set up Allen's 3-yard scoring run.
• Corey Bojorquez, viewed as a liability entering the season, hit a 35-yarder that pinned the Jets at their own 5 late in the first quarter.
Ice Cold: Allen's involvement in all four first-half turnovers set the tone for a disappointing day for the Bills. The worst was Cole Beasley allowing a low throw to bounce off hands and get picked by linebacker C.J. Mosley, who returned it 17 yards for a touchdown to give the Jets a 6-0 lead with 10:34 left in the first half.
Here were more lowlights:
• The offensive line getting zero push in allowing the Jets to dump running back Frank Gore for a 2-yard loss in the end zone for a safety to make it 8-0 early in the third quarter.
• An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by guard Jon Feliciano that took the Bills out of field-goal range in the first quarter.
• How's this for an ugly sequence? Late in the second quarter, on third-and-two in Jets territory, the Bills called a quarterback sneak. Allen gained a yard. Then, on fourth-and-1 from the Jets' 36, Mosley recovered a fumbled snap at the Jets' 37.
• With a minute left in the half, another Bills scoring opportunity ended when Allen had a pass deflected by linebacker Harvy Langi and intercepted by linebacker Neville Hewitt at the Bills' 48.
• Siran Neal, who entered the game as the nickel back after Taron Johnson left the game with a hamstring, did a terrible job in coverage on the Jets' two-point conversion pass from Darnold to running back Le'Veon Bell.
• Late in the third quarter, Gore again lost 2 yards when running behind three tight ends lined up to the left.
Setting the Table: Seasons aren't made or broken on opening day, but this was an important win. Not only did it get a season of hope off to a good start, it also gave the Bills a vital divisional victory.
It reinforced the notion that the Bills' strength, their defense, can bail them out when it has to. It also provided Allen some much-needed confidence in himself, for being able to rebound, and the rest of the team some added faith in their quarterback.
The Bills are right back here next Sunday to face the New York Giants.