Taylor threw for only 213 yards, but it wasn't so much about the yardage as it was his efficiency. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 213 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The 76.9 completion percentage was the best of his career, and outside of a few typically off-target throws -- including a few that went for completions as the receivers made nice catches -- Taylor looked sharp against a solid Denver defense.
"Tyrod responded in a major way," running back LeSean McCoy said. "And hey, if we've got to win like that, I'll bet my last dollar, and you know I'm a betting man. So if we've got to win like that with Tyrod, we can do that."
Taylor said one of the reasons for the improvement in the passing game after two rather mundane weeks was that offensive coordinator Rick Dennison tried to create more opportunities for Taylor to move outside the pocket.
"Rick Dennison always has an open ear, even from my time working with him in Baltimore (when Taylor was a backup and Dennison was quarterbacks coach)," Taylor said. "This week, I talked with him about the things I have seen and that I liked, the things I felt we were good at."
Taylor struggles when he stays in the pocket. First of all, he's only 6-foot-1 and that creates vision problems. Second, he's not very good at making quick and decisive choices and that sometimes leads to sacks.
He's better when he can get outside, open his lanes of vision, and his mobility allows him to extend plays until someone comes open. And if no one does, he's one of the best in the league at scrambling for yardage.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught three passes for 61 yards, said one of the biggest reasons for the Bills' lackluster passing game has been the opposition, and he has a point.
Even the Jets in Week 1 possess a pretty good defense, let alone Carolina and Denver.
"First of all, you've got to look at our first three games," Matthews said. "We played two teams that in the last two years have been to the Super Bowl. And then we've got another team next week (Atlanta) that's been to the Super Bowl recently. So, things aren't going to just be awesome.
"Our biggest thing is we want to make sure we're efficient. That's where I tell all the guys, 'Look, whether we're having a hundred-yard game, 30-yard games, 20-yard games, are we putting our team in a position to win games and are we being efficient? Are we catching the ball when it comes to us? And if we're not, we just continue to work and we go back and try to get the next opportunity.'"
Wide receiver Andre Holmes, who caught two passes for only six yards, including one on a deflected ball that he snatched in the end zone for a touchdown, said the receivers know they have been singled out by fans and media, and they had to tune out the criticism.
"That was just kind of an emphasis for the week, that we wanted to get the passing game going," Holmes said. "J-Matt (Matthews) early on in the week had said, 'Don't speak too soon on us receivers,' and that's just the kind of mindset we have.
"We've been in the league long enough to know what type of players we are and that we're good receivers. We never got down or anything. We just went out there and made plays."
Cornerback Tre'Davious White showed some mettle against the Broncos. With veteran receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it was clear very early that they wanted to test White and they came after him. Not surprisingly, the Broncos won early as White endured a tough first half. However, the rookie first-round pick bounced back in the second half and had a much better performance, one that included a big interception as Denver was approaching the red zone in the fourth quarter.
"I wouldn't say they were picking on me," White said. "Every pass I was pretty much there. You're going to have your ups and downs, but it's all about how you respond."
Well, he wasn't right there on every one, and in fact, he was completely burned by Sanders for what would have been a 44-yard gain if not for Sanders bobbling the ball right at the end. Still, safety Micah Hyde was impressed. "He's one of the most humble rookies I've ever played with," Hyde said. "He's beyond his years when it comes to football knowledge and football savvy. I don't know if it's him playing in the SEC -- I'm a Big Ten guy so I can't stand the SEC -- but obviously it must have gotten him ready."
Kicker Stephen Hauschka had a quite a day. He made all four of his field-goal attempts, including from 53 and 55 yards, as he scored 14 of Buffalo's 26 points. "It feels awesome," he said. "A lot of hard work goes in, starting at the beginning of the offseason. It was a big transition for me to come across the country (from Seattle) with my family and come here to Buffalo. ... It's rewarding to see some success from all the hard work put in."
Hauschka had gotten off to a rocky start. He missed his first attempt, a 46-yarder against the Jets. Last week in Carolina he made a 45-yarder, but it caromed in off the upright. Against Denver, there were no issues as every kick was true.
"Kicking is about rhythm," he said. "I just feel more and more comfortable each game I'm here, learning this stadium, learning the winds. The ball was flying well. It was about 80 degrees, which it's like this a lot in Buffalo, right? It's like this in December, right?"
It might have gotten lost in the shuffle, but the Bills' best offensive drive of the season came in the fourth quarter when they were clinging to a seven-point lead. Following an interception by Tre'Davious White, the Bills took possession at their own 38 and proceeded to march 53 yards in 16 plays, consuming 7:30 off the clock before Stephen Hauschka kicked a clinching 27-yard field goal with 3:14 remaining.
Along the way, the Bills converted four third downs. Tyrod Taylor scrambled to convert a third-and-5; the Bills caught a break when Von Miller's silly penalty for faking to help Taylor off the ground cost Denver 15 yards after they'd held on third-and-6; LeSean McCoy made a great cut to gain seven yards on a short pass to pick up third-and-6; and McCoy gained two yards on third-and-2.
NOTES: QB Tyrod Taylor had one of his best days in terms of efficiency as he completed 76.9 percent of his passes, a career best. He threw for only 213 yards, but he did have two touchdowns. ... RB LeSean McCoy had another tough game as he was held to 21 yards on 14 carries. He was a factor in the passing game, though, as he caught seven passes for 48 yards. ... TE Nick O'Leary had only one target, but it was a good one as he caught a 31-yard pass near the sideline, a play where he tracked the ball impressively. ... WR Zay Jones continues to struggle in his rookie season. He was held without a catch and dropped a touchdown pass at the goal line, though the ball fortuitously caromed to Andre Holmes who caught it for a touchdown. Jones has only three catches for 39 yards in three games. ... WR Jordan Matthews made a nice play on a crossing route for a 28-yard gain, and he finished with three catches for 61 yards. ... CB Tre'Davious White had a rough first half, but bounced back and played better in the second half. He had an interception that killed a Denver scoring threat, broke up three passes, and made seven tackles. ... K Stephen Hausckha had a great day as he made all four of his field goals from 27, 59, 53 and 55 yards. He became the first Bills kicker to make two of at least 53 yards in the same game. ... LB Preston Brown led the Bills with 10 tackles, but he did have a couple problems in coverage.
REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS
--PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus - The Bills have had trouble moving the ball downfield in the passing game, and while this wasn't a great game by any means, there was progress. Tyrod Taylor completed 76.9 percent of his passes (20 of 26 for 213 yards) and three of his completions went for 28 yards or longer. On the Bills' second touchdown drive, he threw dimes to Nick O'Leary and Jordan Matthews and finished it with a nice throw in the end zone to Charles Clay after he baited the defense into thinking he was running. Rookie Zay Jones continues to struggle as he had no catches on two targets, and one was a drop at the goal line.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus - The Bills are finding it increasingly difficult to get their run game going. This is two weeks in a row where it was largely unproductive, but they were fortunate that it didn't matter. LeSean McCoy gained only 21 yards on 14 carries, meaning that in the last two games, he has 26 carries for 30 yards. That's almost hard to believe, but the offensive line has not been able to cope with eight-man boxes and the focus of the opposing defense on shutting down McCoy. Mike Tolbert actually led the Bills with 41 yards on 11 carries, but Buffalo averaged a paltry 2.3 yards per rush.
--PASS DEFENSE: B-minus - Rookie Tre'Davious White may have had his welcome to the NFL moment in the first half as he was continually picked on, and had a tough time. He bounced back in the second half and made an interception and three other pass breakups, but overall, it wasn't a great day. On the other side, E.J. Gaines was very good as he made an interception, two breakups, and allowed only four completions on 12 targets for 39 yards. The Bills' pass rush came up with three sacks, and forced Trevor Siemian to leave the pocket numerous times, leading to some poor throws.
--RUSH DEFENSE: B - The Bills didn't have injured DT Marcell Dareus, but it really didn't matter. Denver's C.J. Anderson came into the game ranked No. 2 in the NFL in rushing, but had only 36 yards on eight carries, while Jamaal Charles had 56 yards on nine carries. The Bills did a good job except on Charles' 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter where he broke several tackles. Linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber combined for 18 tackles, though none were for lost yardage which is somewhat of a concern. They need more impact plays from the linebackers.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus - Stephen Hauschka had a big day as he made four field goals and he became the first kicker in Bills history to make two field goals of at least 53 yards in the same game. Deon Lacey made a superb play to snuff out and stop a fake punt by the Broncos that gave the Bills the ball at the Denver 31. Brandon Tate was back in the lineup after being inactive last week and he had a 17-yard punt return and a 23-yard kickoff return. The kickoff coverage unit allowed a 36-yard return. Colton Schmidt averaged only 38.0 net on five punts, and that needs to be better. Perhaps the best aspect of the kicking game is that the Bills committed no penalties, a rarity for them.
--COACHING: A-minus - Rick Dennison had a good game. His offensive plan was pretty dull last week in Carolina and the Bills scored three points, but he did some nice things to get Tyrod Taylor on the edges of the pocket, which is where he does his best work. Dennison does have to find a way to rejuvenate the run game, though. On defense, coordinator Leslie Frazier and head coach Sean McDermott are pushing all the right buttons. The Bills have given up just two touchdowns in three games, and they're getting contributions from all three levels of the defense. The Bills were the hungrier team, and it showed all day.