ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Earlier this week, coach Sean McDermott said the team's pass rush needed to improve. On Sunday, while not perfect, the unit stepped up and delivered results in a 31-14 win over the Carolina Panthers.
"Guys came up and made plays, they were doing the right thing, and the rush and coverage worked together," defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said. "That was definitely a huge part in this team's victory."
The defense sacked Panthers QB Cam Newton four times, the most sacks they've had in a single game since week two against Miami . Two of those four sacks came from Efe Obada, who joined the team this offseason after spending three seasons in Carolina.
"When I was playing with him [Newton] he had the red jersey, so that was the quickest ride to go home if you hit him," Obada said when asked about sacking his former teammate. "It felt good to hit him now. I asked for his jersey and I'm putting that out there now so I can hold him accountable."
"He had two sacks, especially the second one - the big moment - when we needed it," McDermott added. "Getting that four man rush is important for us."
Those two sacks from Obada came in a 2nd half series; the first on 2nd & 10 on the Buffalo 46 and again two downs later on 4th & 10 at the same exact spot. That 4th down sack gave the Bills offense the ball back, in which they later capitalized plays later to extend their 4th quarter lead.
"It was great effort from the coverage to allow me to get in there," Obada said. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be out there."
"Efe comes to work every day," safety Jordan Poyer said. "Extremely great teammate, great player, and he does his job. It was exciting to see him get those."
It was a unique day for the Bills defense who found out during pregame that the Panthers kicker injured himself during warm-ups. The unit adjusted and braced for a Panthers offense who would be a little more aggressive on 3rd and 4th downs. The Panthers wound up attempting five 4th down conversions, and was only successful on one of them.
"We consider playing smart one of the key components to our success," Phillips said. "We knew field goals weren't going to be an option so we needed to play those 3rd and 4th downs with extra awareness."
"We knew it was going to be a bunch of 4th downs today," safety Micah Hyde said. "We went out there and tried to limit them."
While the pass rush had one of its better games in recent memory, the Bills secondary grabbed their 17th interception of the season after A.J. Klein [his 1st of the season] came up big late in the 4th quarter to help seal the win. But they could always do more. The Bills defense had several tipped passes and missed opportunities, including a forced fumble they couldn't fall on.
"That's something I've already been thinking about," McDermott said. "I think we had two or three, maybe more than that, opportunities. We gotta come up with those and I'm confident our guys will."
"There were a lot of tipped balls today," Hyde agreed. "Things didn't bounce our way but the line did an awesome job getting their hands up, the linebackers did an awesome job getting their hands up, we just have to get those."
All things to work on and improve on ahead of a very big game next weekend in Foxboro. The Bills and Patriots will meet once again, just weeks after a 14-10 defeat at home. This time the lead in the AFC East will be on the line along with a potential home playoff game, but the team is locked in on it being their most important game because it's the next one.
"You don't want to look too far ahead, but it really is real," Phillips said. "We gotta win this week and it's the only narrative we're backing up."