Josh Allen was the star of the show on Thursday Night Football as the Buffalo Bills battled their way to a 24-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Highmark Stadium.
After the disappointment of a 29-25 defeat to AFC East rivals New England Patriots in their previous outing, the Bills responded in the best possible way to take down the Bucs in Buffalo.
Throwing two touchdown passes and running in another, it was a night to remember for Bills quarterback Allen.
The Buffalo star was close to his best as he guided the hosts to victory at Highmark Stadium to move the Bills to 5-2 in the AFC East.
It was an important win after losing out to a Pats side that has struggled for much of the NFL season so far, with just two victories to speak of against the New York Jets and the Bills.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment for many Bills fans on Thursday night when Allen landed on his throwing shoulder after a tackle from Bucs linebacker YaYa Diaby.
This was much to the annoyance of head coach Sean McDermott, who has lost count on how many times he’s asked Allen to slide to avoid contact.
Allen was seen testing out the movement in his shoulder as he headed back to the huddle, before running in a 13-yard touchdown on the very next play to calm the home faithful's fears.
After the victory over Tampa Bay, Allen admitted he did feel something in his shoulder, but has played down concerns of anything serious ahead of the Bills next game at the Cincinnati Bengals on November 5.
"Took a little, little fall on it and felt a little funky about it, but you know, just trying to keep it warm and keep it loose," Allen said after the game. "I'll be sore for a couple of days, but we'll be fine."
The Bills are favored by -1.0 currently -115 ML to win at the Bengals, while Cincinnati are -105 ML for the victory.
Buffalo are available at +1000 to win the NFL Championship this season.
The Tampa Bay defense has been holding its own for much of the season, but the lack of points on offense saw the Bucs suffer a third consecutive defeat with Thursday’s loss.
Having only scored 19 points in their previous two defeats to the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, the Bucs offense was slightly better at Highmark Stadium but it was still not enough to overcome the Bills.
Tamp Bay started the season promisingly with three wins in their first four outings against the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, but things have taken a turn for the worse since.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles knows his side are in a tough spell at the moment, but has backed them to respond ahead of their next game at the Houston Texans on November 5.
"My faith in these guys has never wavered,” he said. “I'll take them anywhere. I'll take them down an alley. I'll fight with them any kind of way.
"I believe in them wholeheartedly. We believe in ourselves as a team and know we'll push forward and get better."
While quarterback Baker Mayfield has recorded 10 touchdown passes this season, the Bucs have only scored one rushing touchdown.
The running game is an area that has been letting Tampa Bay down, as has their discipline.
Right tackle Luke Goedeke had three false starts on Thursday night against the Bills and that hurt the momentum in the visitors’ offense, especially with one of those penalties coming in the fourth quarter with the Bucs chasing the game.
A 42-yard completion for receiver Mike Evans was also scratched off due to a holding call on rookie guard Cody Mauch.
In a six-point game, these errors mounted up for the Bucs and helped the Bills pick up an important win in their battle to finish top of the pile in the AFC East.
For the Bucs, they will be looking to stop the rot next time out in Houston after moving to 3-4 for the season.
Coach Bowles will certainly have an eye on proceedings in the Texans’ next game as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday.
The Bucs are available at +115 to win in Houston next month, with the Texans -110 ML and favored by -2.5.