After two games, the 2016 Buffalo Bills looked like a team heading for disaster.
Turns out, the third game was in fact the charm, and the Bills righted the ship, beating the Cardinals 33-18 at New Era Field.
Controversy swirled around the Bills since the Jets 37-31 win in Orchard Park last Thursday which resulted in the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
The drama surrounding the team wasn’t evident on Sunday as the Bills defense forced five Arizona turnovers and their offense played significantly better.
Rhythm in the run game eluded the Bills in their first two games, but from early going looked in synch against Arizona. With a 3-0 lead helped by a Tyrod Taylor run, LeSean McCoy scampered for a 24-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first quarter to give Buffalo a 10-0 lead.
McCoy found the endzone again early in the second quarter to make it 17-0, sending Bills fans at New Era Field into a hysterics.
The Cardinals got on the scoreboard with a minute remaining in the half via a David Johnson run that capped a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took nearly ten minutes of gameclock.
Arizona received the ball to open the second half, but the Bills defense forced a three & out. Buffalo then proceeded to march down the field and Tyrod Taylor ran untouched into the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 23-7 Bills. Dan Carpenter then missed the ensuing point after kick.
The next Cardinals drive seemed destined to result in points, but after the Bills defense forced a stop inside their own 10-yard line, Arizona fumbled the snap on a field goal attempt and Bills safety Aaron Williams returned the ball 53 yards for the first touchdown of his pro career.
Even at 30-7, the game was far from over. The Cardinals flew down the field in a little over two minutes to score, making the game 30-13 late in the third quarter. Head coach Bruce Arians decided to go for two points, but the attempt failed, maintaining a 3-score lead for the Bills.
Arizona would kick a field goal on their next possession, but their final four possessions of the game each ended in Bills interceptions.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor did not have a strong game under center, throwing for 119 yards and no touchdowns along with an interception on 14-for-25 attempts. Truthfully, Taylor didn’t need to have his best game because the Bills running attack was so strong.
Taylor did use his running skills effectively against the Cardinals, rushing for 76 yards and a score. Besides him, LeSean McCoy ended the afternoon with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
The doom and gloom from the early part of the season may be behind the Bills. Their upcoming schedule is favorable with next weekend’s game in New England against the Patriots and the still-suspended Tom Brady.
After next weekend, the Bills play the Rams, 49ers, and Dolphins. Combined, those three teams are 2-4 entering Week 4.