Pa Henry McKenna
By FOX Sports AFC East

The Buffalo Bills (3-1) have an unfortunate habit of making a mess for themselves in the first 20 minutes of a game — before spending the next 40 minutes cleaning up that mess.

Theirs 23-20 win against Baltimore Ravens (2-2) on Sunday was another proof. It fit the script of what the Bills did in their season opener vs Los Angeles Rams. Elements? Early losses, sloppy execution, uncharacteristic defense. Once they get that out of their system, they play some terrific football.

against the ravens Josh Allen threw an interception in the first quarter. Running back Devin Singletary fumbled the ball on the team’s third pass. As the Ravens’ offense got going, Buffalo came out looking almost cocky.

The Bills won the coin toss and received the kickoff. They thought they would take an early lead, in part because, as coach Sean McDermott explained after the game, they had good weather to start the game and expected the rain to come later. (And it did rain.) So the Bills wanted to get the ball before it rained. They tried to take control in this battle of MVP candidates bwteen Allen and Lamar Jackson.

Baltimore beat Buffalo in that first quarter.

But anyone who danced on the Bills’ grave did so prematurely.

Something changed in Buffalo’s demeanor late in the second quarter. The Bills didn’t jump out to the early lead they wanted. So they flipped the script. They went for a doubleheader, scoring late in the first half and early in the second. This move is usually reserved for the team delaying the start of the game. But the Bills scored a touchdown, the first of the game, on Allen’s pass to the Isaiah McKenzie with seconds to go in the second quarter. Then the Bills’ defense forced a 3-and-out to start the third quarter. So Buffalo scored again, on a field goal, to open the second half.

Anyone watching the 2022 Bills knew they would be back in the game.

Fast forward to three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh made the stupid decision to go for it on fourth down on a tied game. Jackson threw an interception. Security Jordan Poyer, who caught his second interception of the day, fumbled the ball in the end zone. That put Buffalo at the 20-yard line instead of the 2.

So the Bills offense went back to work. And there was good parallelism in the impressive final drive compared to their lackluster opening drives. While Allen and tight end Dawson Knox just couldn’t connect (including one attempt that went to an Allen interception), the quarterback found his top tight end for a 20-yard pickup on the final drive with two and a half minutes left in the game.

And while Singletary had that trick, Allen and the running back managed to connect for a 16-yard touchdown catch. Even better, Singletary chose not to punt beyond the 5-yard line. It looked like Baltimore missed him in the end zone. He missed the opportunity and took a knee near the 2-yard line. It effectively won the game, with the first long allowing the Bills to run out and score their game-winning field goal.

“[Singletary] knew not to score,” McDermott said after the game.

At the 1-yard line, Buffalo drained the clock and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. Harbaugh’s game management seemed to infuriate the cornerback Marcus Peterswho was seen yelling at his coach on the sideline in the final moments of the game.


Good. Do you need a deep breath? I need a deep breath.

The Bills needed great play from their guys and questionable decision making from their opponents to get the W.

They need to take a hint. If the Bills aren’t careful, they’re going to start beating themselves up.

“If you look at the composition of the game as a whole, it didn’t go our way because of a lot of variables, right?” McDermott said. “But I thought again that the coaches adjusted in some ways. We followed the plan in other ways. They adjusted and then the players executed.”

That’s an optimistic view of it.

Ahead of Week 5, the NFL will make teams pay for bad losses. The first four weeks of the season are a good time to work out the kinks. It’s perfectly fine to hang a “under construction” sign on the coaching staff, schemes, playbooks and team personnel — for those four weeks. Now it’s time for Allen to drop it with those turnovers in the first half. The running backs need to stop breaking the ball, which they have done ad nauseam this season.

If Buffalo’s offense improves in those two areas, the Bills will roll over teams like they did vs. Tennessee Titans in the 2nd week. If mistakes continue, they will allow lesser opponents to stay put and equal opponents to win.

The Bills developed a pattern to lose in the first half and a pattern to win in the second. It’s time for them to start playing their best for 60 minutes.

Before joining FOX Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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