By definition, “pay dirt” is the “ground containing ore in sufficient quantity to be profitably extracted.” In football parlance, it is reaching that hallowed ground of the end zone for a touchdown.
The Bills reached pay dirt three times against the Redskins on Sunday, without allowing Washington to mine that ore once, in a strangely unsatisfying 15-point win, 24-9.
Devin Singletary is a human jukebox. He somehow runs sideways like a crab, with a burst of speed he is not supposed to own. With X-ray vision only superheroes possess, he can see through walls, seemingly behind him, and before stuff happens in real life.
Bills fans have been screaming for Singletary to get the rock more, and he finally had his breakout game with a few breakaway scampers, including the Bills' first well-designed, timed, and executed screen pass in 83 years.
Singletary hit pay dirt by skedaddling to the corner of the end zone from two yards out to ice the game and put the Redskins out of our misery.
Frank Gore tried to batter-ram his way into pay dirt on three consecutive carries in the first quarter but got steamrolled each time. During the Bills' first drive of the third quarter, on fourth-and-1, they tried to bum-rush it in again and got barricaded again, turning it over on downs. Undeterred, or insanely stubborn, in the fourth quarter on third-and-2, they tried it a fifth time and got promptly curb-stomped. Looks like a trend.
Bills fans complain offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gets a little too cute at times in the middle of the field, and then is not adorable enough in short yardage.
Many Bills fans left mildly if not majorly disappointed with the win. A substantial portion of Bills Mafiadom is not all that happy with the 6-2 record because they have all been untidy wins against bottom dwellers. Buffalo has not had a clean, convincing victory all season.
But the team plays to win, period.
Josh Allen led the Bills to pay dirt on the ground and through the air. The Bills now rank first in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage at 71.4%. Inside the 20, Allen has the second-highest completion rate, at 70%, among the 35 qualified quarterbacks.
He also boasts the NFL's second-highest completion percentage, 75%, inside the 10-yard line. Allen is only the fourth QB in league history to have at least 20 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Allen had a solid outing despite pedestrian stats. An unfortunate toss hit a Redskin in the back of the helmet on a great pass and easy TD to Singletary. He had a clear interference on a deep toss by a CB cutting John Brown’s body at the knees before the ball arrived. Late in the game, Allen had a drop by Brown on a fantastic escape and bullet, followed by another jailbreak and pinpoint dart on third-and-18 for a first down that set up the game-clinching TD with 2:21 left.
For the last two decades, the Bills could have punted on third and more than 10 yards. Allen almost routinely picks them up.
He eludes wide-open onrushing defenders looking to dismember him, the kind of play that Jordan Phillips buried Dwayne Haskins on. Allen does it virtually every time, immediately, and makes it look easy.
It is not.
Allen did lose six yards on first-and-goal from the 2 on an ill-fated scramble, looking for an open Tyler Kroft and Dawson Knox at the goal line. He needs to throw that away. On that same drive, he got sacked after dropping the snap, which became third-and-goal from Big Tree, and almost out of field goal range.
But the indecisive win lies at the feet of many players and necks of several coaches. McDermott drives this Bills car like a little old lady, and refuses to floor the gas when they get ahead. Leslie Frazier needs to hire a high school tackling coach. Daboll somehow believes that the Bills can convert QB sneaks from two yards away but not half a yard.
It was Adrian Peterson's three straight gallops of 18, 17 and 28 yards that drove Bills fans particularly batty, especially the third lug in which the defense held a meeting in the middle of the play and field, and then collectively decided not to tackle him.
Peterson gained 63 of his 101 first half yards on those three jaunts, but the Skins inexplicably stopped handing it to him. In turn, they handed us the game. Washington was held to a field goal on the drive.
The next drive AP went 9, 19 and then 22 on a pass, but from then on did nothing, and again the Skins were held to three points. Peterson finished with 108 yards rushing, after only seven on eight carries in the second half. It seemed far worse than it was.
Levi Wallace was exposed and exploited for the second straight game, but it never really killed Buffalo. With his weak, if accurate lobs, Haskins couldn't get the ball downfield. Kicker Dustin Hopkins was the only Skin who scored.
In order to win big games against good teams, the offense needs to hit pay dirt more often. It is almost inarguable. But there are no columns for hygienic versus soiled wins in NFL standings. The Bills are 6-2, one game out of the division and conference overall lead, and tied for second in the AFC. That is inarguable.
And they now play three poor, grimy teams in a row, starting with the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday.
Play dirty, or hit pay dirt, they just need to mine the ore in the end zone in sufficient quantity, to come out profitably on top.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan, and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.