4:00 p.m. ET
Key Coaching Decision #1: (MIN ball, trailing 10-0 / third-and-8 MIN 27 / 6:04 Q1)
• Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Matt Milano. Two plays later, the Bills would tack on to their double-digit lead and make it a three-score game early. The Vikings never recovered.
• Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and the Bills staff deserve credit for overloading the Vikings offensive line, specifically the left side and playing stunt games to confuse both the offensive line and backup running back Latavius Murray playing for the injured Dalvin Cook. This was for all intents and purposes the end of the game. Minnesota was going to be in for a long day as they felt they had to abandon any semblance of a balanced attack against a swarming Bills defense.
• Clearly this game did not go the way it was expected to. It was a 27-0 lead at halftime. That is, a 27-point lead for the 16.5-point underdog, visiting and previously winless Buffalo Bills, who had lost by double digits in their two losses. If you said you liked the Bills in this game, (1) you’re a liar; or (2) you are related to a member of the team; or (3) you need to clarify your statement and say that you liked the odds.
• The Bills defensive line dominated the Vikings offensive line and sacked Cousins four times while holding the Vikings to 14 rushing yards. In addition, Cousins fumbled the ball twice in the first half, leading to short fields for the Bills. This contributed to the Bills scoring in their first five possessions.
• Forced to play from significantly behind, the Vikings coaching staff must have felt there was no choice but to abandon the running game. Vikings running backs only had four carries on the day. This might have been somewhat premature considering Buffalo did not score after the 6:21 mark of the second quarter.
• We expected Mike Zimmer’s defense to make life difficult for the rookie quarterback Josh Allen. That didn’t happen. Allen looked poised and was able to use his athleticism to escape danger. It was a sharp contrast from Allen’s first start last week against the Chargers. Much credit to the Bills offensive staff, especially quarterbacks coach David Culley, who helped prepare Allen for this road matchup.
• The Bills defense was again led by Frazier, the former Vikings head coach. Last week during a first-half defensive debacle against the Chargers at home, Bills head coach Sean McDermott took over the defensive play-calling duties. This week, Frazier assumed those duties again and the Bills defense had a dominant performance against Minnesota.